We here in the UW Alumni Association are hopping aboard the “Throwback Thursday” bandwagon by sharing photos from the University of Washington’s storied history. We could think of no better way to launch this series on our blog than with photos of the Quad and those beautiful cherry blossoms.
The Yoshino cherry trees, which blossom for a week or two every March, symbolize the end of winter, the onset of spring, and countless photo opportunities in the Quad. But it wasn’t always that way.
Here, for example, was the Quad in 1942. Notice anything missing?
Until the early 1960s, the Quad was an open, treeless yard that bore little resemblance to the iconic gathering space of today. The brick paths were almost replaced with asphalt in 1963, but the plan was abandoned in the wake of pressure from student groups.
The Quad as we know it today first took shape in 1964, when UW President Charles Odegaard arranged for the 31 cherry trees to be transplanted from the arboretum to keep them from being bulldozed as part of the State Route 520 construction project. They found a home in the Quad because there was nowhere else to put them, but the trees quickly became a cherished part of campus lore.
Yoshino cherry trees live for 60-100 years; as they grow old and die, the trees are replaced with younger trees grown at a nursery near Mount Vernon.
Walk through the Quad this week or next — when the blossoms are near full bloom — and you’ll see a stunning display of pink clouds delicate petals. But don’t take our word for it; see for yourself in this photo, which was taken in 2013 near the location of the photo above: