A reader writes:
This looks like it could be any one of a thousand different college campuses. At any rate, I’ll (wildly) guess this is Bryn Mawr. I dated a girl there 15+ years ago, and it sorta looks familiar.
Maybe it’s because I’m neck deep in exams, but this looks very much like a view out of the windows of Firestone Library at Princeton. I could be delusional from all the all-nighters, though.
Leaves changing colors but dude still wearing shorts – gotta be the South! Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina?
I wanted to cry initially because the clues seemed so paltry. But then an epiphany: The dude jogging is wearing the University of North Carolina Tar Heel’s colors. Gotta be somewhere on that campus.
This is my favorite VFYW picture yet. So evocative of college memories and that all too short but wonderful late autumn time where the weather is crisp, the trees are beautiful, the final exams are lurking but with Winter Break ahead and 3-4 weeks off with nothing to do but visit family and old friends and eat, drink, sleep and play. Can you imagine having 21 days off now and how wonderful that would be?
All that said, I have no clue on this one. How about Chapel Hill?
I’m a loyal reader of your blog and have people here at work who guess amongst ourselves every week for this contest. I am pretty sure of the answer this week since I’m pretty sure it is my alma mater. This is a picture from a first flood window in Buttrick Hall on the Vanderbilt University campus in Nashville, TN. The picture is pointing northeast. The building to the far right is Garland Hall. I’ll include my address below for my prize if I win, although I have to assume alot of Vandy people have already sent in their guesses as well.
This is the first time I have made a guess for the VFYW Contest, and it is only because of this photo I took last autumn. So here it goes: Student Union at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City.
That building on the right screams University of Florida to me. I don’t remember the trees taking on that color, but they very well may in the later fall. The young dude on the left wearing shorts further supports my inclination. I’m just getting really really hard vibes that this is my favorite place in the world.
As to where the shot itself is taken from: I’m going to have to guess that it’s Library West (which was only open my freshman year, ’01, but has since finished its remodeling phase.) It is definitely one of maybe two or three buildings that could produce such a view of Plaza of the Americas (where my Cuban-exile parents met, btw!).
But I’m worried cus I don’t see any Spanish Moss …
I was originally going to guess Princeton simply because I know it has elm trees (and I’m not eligible because I won contest #3). And once again I’ve never been there, but one Google search for “elms on campus” goes straight to a similar photo at Penn State and an entire web site dedicated to all its elms. Based on the attached map, I’m guessing it’s the double column of trees on the west side of the mall at Old Main, but I expect you’ll have many scores of more precise locations than this one from old Nittany Lions … or from people far away from Pennsylvania who saw that view every fall on another campus that still has those stately old endangered trees.
The picture certainly looks like the quad of a Northeast college campus in autumn, especially because the colonial building on the right. I think the trees are Japanese maples. I am going to guess that this is my alma mater’s quad then: Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, possibly taken from Rockefeller Hall.
An allée of beautiful, mature ginkgos in what looks like a university campus. I believe this may have been taken at the University of Tokyo, in Tokyo, Japan.
I am almost 100% positive about this one. I immediately recognized it as a college campus. I quizzed my father, a botanist, about the trees, which he identified as ginkgos (“I hope they are males, because the females smell like dog shit!”). So I started searching for college or university campuses with ginkgo populations. During one of these searches (on Google Image) I found this photo, which looks quite similar to the content photo but from a different angle. It’s Olin Library, on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. A satellite search on Google Maps pretty much confirms it. I even bit the bullet and did a schematic marking the direction from which the photo was taken and the locations of the people in the photo (switch to satellite view). I’m attaching a screenshot too, just in case:
I looked at this picture and my heart almost stopped: I have seen this view thousands of times (no exaggeration). It’s the view from Olin Library, in the heart of Washington University in St. Louis, looking east. At the end of the path is Duncker Hall, home of the English Dept., where I spent many happy years getting a PhD in English, and where I met my husband. It was actually in Olin Library that he asked me out on our first date; it was at the end of a Renaissance Lit seminar which for reasons that I cannot recall anymore, was meeting in a seminar room in the Library. Duncker Hall blends into Eads Hall, home to the Foreign Languages Department, where my father-in-law spent four decades teaching Latin American Studies. The gingko trees are sublime (though being female, they shed their fruits in the late summer, and create a godawful stink when trodden underfoot).
Incidentally, I’ve written in to VFYW once before; I’m the college professor whose travel-themed Composition classes have been looking at the contest every week as a end-of-class-period fun exercise. (We guessed Galveston a couple of weeks back but didn’t write in.) Next week we have our last class meetings. I’m going to have fun having my students try to guess this one!
I knew exactly where this was the instant I saw it! I usually suck at guessing the locations, so I’m excited to see one that I can pinpoint to the nearest square foot! This is taken from the Ginkgo Reading Room in the Olin Library on the campus of Washington University. The view is looking east, towards downtown St. Louis and the Gateway Arch. My boyfriend and I graduated from WashU in 2007, and we both have fond memories of 2AM study sessions in this library. He took this picture in the room shortly after the library was renovated in 2004 (I was probably studying Organic Chemistry just out of frame):
Finally, all of those hours in the library paid off! Although, if I’m being honest, I usually studied in the basement of this building which doesn’t have any windows. This photo is taken looking east from the ground floor of Olin Library (which is the third of that building’s five floors). From this view you can see Dunker Hall on the left, where I had classes, and Eads Hall on the right, where I occasionally ate lunch. The entrance to the quad can be seen at the end of the tree lined path. For good measure I just showed the photo to my wife, another alum, and she agrees: unmistakeably Wash U. Thanks for the memories.
To a botanist, the ginkgo tree is unique for its leaf shape, bark, branches, and bright yellow fall color, all obvious in this view. A Google image search for “ginkgo walkway” brought up a picture of this path on the Washington University campus as the first response (perhaps due to your many readers). A second search for “Washington University ginkgo” brought up the Olin Reading Room, from which the picture was taken, and a poem, “The Consent,” by Howard Nemerov, WU faculty member and U.S. Poet Laureate, about these very ginkgo trees:
Late in November, on a single night
Not even near to freezing, the ginkgo trees
That stand along the walk drop all their leaves
In one consent, and neither to rain nor to wind
But as though to time alone: the golden and green
Leaves litter the lawn today, that yesterday
Had spread aloft their fluttering fans of light.
What signal from the stars? What senses took it in?
What in those wooden motives so decided
To strike their leaves, to down their leaves,
Rebellion or surrender? and if this
Can happen thus, what race shall be exempt?
What use to learn the lessons taught by time.
If a star at any time may tell us: Now.
Many poets become botanists because they have an place in their hearts for the attention a poet can give to a tree. The ginkgo is especially worthy of that attention. Global in extent before the rise of mammals, it was thought extinct by European botanists, known only through the fossil record, until discovered growing in Buddhist gardens in China, from which it has again spread to gardens, streets, and campuses around the world.
Thanks from a botanist for your reminder of the pleasures found in nature, poetry, and work. Now back to it.
When I was a grad student there in the ’90s, older Asian women would gather the gingko berries, the smell of which was memorably compared to human vomit by poet Howard Nemerov.
This is a true Proustian moment, as the sickly sweet smell of the gingko trees has been unleashed somewhere in my brain.
I’ll be damned if that isn’t the view out of my old university’s library, looking down the path toward the Brookings Quadrangle between the rows of ginkgo trees. They all shed their leaves simultaneously at a certain point in the fall, and I’ve always wanted to witness that one moment when those trees all suddenly shuck and denude themselves like corn husks.
Oh, what fun! My friends at Wash U always said that a social engagement never went by where I failed to mention the Daily Dish; it’s a delight to see my alma mater featured so prominently on the blog.
I remember one of these walks in particular, as I came in to campus early on a Saturday morning, right after the first hard freeze of the year. The yellow leaves on these trees had fallen en masse, turning the walkway into the yellowbrick road, and I was the first one to walk through them. It was sublime.
I haven’t seen that alley of gingko for 34 years, but apparently nothing has changed. It’s impossible to forget the yellow transparency and tenacity of their fall foliage. The only thing about this photo that does not compare with my memory is the vision of my professor, the poet Howard Nemerov, walking the path under a blazing blue autumn sky, the same color as his eyes.
I’m touched to see you include a picture that’s so close to the heart of those of us from my alma mater. I can note that the second tree on the right is an excellent tree to climb and read a book.
The building to the right is where I had most of my classes, and a favorite memory is having class outdoors underneath the trees.
The picture has been taken facing east from a window in the John M. Olin library back toward the main quadrangle, which was, after construction, leased to the organizers of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair to be used as the event’s headquarters. At the same time, the 1904 Olympics would be held at the school’s Francis Field. Ridgely Hall (at the far end of the walk) and Holmes Lounge (the building on the right in the photo and the campus’s original library) were the location of the International Congress of Arts and Sciences, a week-long academic conference held in association with the World’s Fair. When I was a student pursuing my Ph.D. in British History at Wash U in the early ’90s, the location of this window was the main entrance to the building, so I walked down this avenue many times (after a major renovation, the main entrance is now on the south side of the building).
In the romantic/tragic story category: Holmes Lounge is now a student lounge and I spent many hours between classes there with my friends, including my first wife, who died shortly after I completed my degree and shortly before she completed hers. There is now a commemorative brick in her honor in the plaza outside the entrance to the lounge near the far end of the walk in this photo.
As a grad student at Wash U, I pass through the area of the original picture almost every day, and I stopped by today on my way to lunch. I’ve attached a picture of the window this was taken through from the outside as well as a view from a window of the original view from the window.
As a physicist, I also have to point out that the building you see to the right is Eads Hall, where Arthur Holly Compton did a series of experiments and discovered the Compton Effect (a type of scattering of x-rays and gamma rays in matter). Compton later received the 1927 Nobel Prize in Physics for the work he did in that building.
I don’t know if I’m allowed to send in an addendum to my VFYW entry, but it’s worth noting that, because of the curious political boundaries in the St. Louis area, the photograph was technically taken in unincorporated St. Louis *County*, Missouri (I checked on the county map). The art school and some parking lots at the university are in St. Louis City, the undergraduate dorms are in Clayton, and the off-campus administration buildings are mostly in University City.
This is my college! I frequently study in that room or near those trees and have great memories of this area. It’s amazing how I often see these contests and think that since I’ve never left the country or traveled that much that I would never know the place. Then the contest takes place just a ten-minute walk from my apartment!
The following entry is simply too unique not to award the window book to. Our winner writes:
Could I be the first VFYW contest submitter to stumble across the image while sitting in the exact room it was taken in? This window is in the Gingko Reading Room in the main library of my school, Washington University in Saint Louis, where I happen to be sitting right now. Alas, most of the yellow is gone (see attached), but the image I snapped of the same walkway about a year and a month ago sits as my phone background, a reminder of Midwestern Falls.
What inquisitive soul reads the Daily Dish alongside me?