It’s hard to deny that springtime Chicago is a beautiful thing; the bright sun brings out the best that the University has to offer. On campus, the ivy begins to explode across the stony facades of Cobb and Rosenwald. Div School iced coffee in plastic cups replaces its steaming, paper-vessel cousin. The quads, weeks earlier devoid of human life, become bustling hubs of social connection. In effect, Spring in Hyde Park is wonderful precisely because it allows students to experience campus in a way that was impossible in the months previous. Students and faculty alike no longer walk briskly to class—they stroll aimlessly in comfortably cool clothes, as if constantly waiting for their photo to be taken.
It turns out that our predecessors also appeared ready for impromptu photo-shoots long before Scott Schuman began snipping street shots of fashionable men and women. Now, these shots of UChicago gents of years past are sometimes clearly staged and sometimes extraordinarily organic. Some of these pictures are from the Sears campaign that used U of C men as models and campus as a set (believe it or not). Whatever their origins, however, all these photos show men who appear ready to come or go from all sorts activities.
Perhaps more than anything, this set of pictures highlight some of the best features of our academic institution. Through these, we see how men dress against our cold Neo-Gothic backdrop. Some men respond with rigid dedication – wearing razor-sharp heavy wool suits to brave the elements. Still in well-tailored clothing, others seize opportunities to break loose with large plaid overcoats or a slightly disheveled tie. In the end, however, these men respond to our campus just as we do today – with a mixed combination of respect and whimsy. While chances are slim that these guys would have scrawled Doctor Who references in chalk across the stone walls of Harper, these spur-of-the-moment pictures (or heavily staged photos that appear as such) give us an idea that these guys interacted with the campus just as we do today.