Academic Quad

Are you tired from all of those stairs? That's due to Wellesley's campus planners, including Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted, who situated buildings on top of hills. The idea was that one would emerge from a building with a view into a valley, then descend into the valley and see the next building as a vista on another hill. So here we are in the Academic Quad, another example of a glade. You won't find many species here besides red and black oaks, gray squirrels, and some shrubs planted along the academic buildings. Virginia creeper and Boston ivy climb up the sides of the buildings.

Now you might be wondering about about the thick black rings around the trunks of the oaks. Well, they come with an interesting story, which began in nearby Medford, Massachusetts in 1856 when an enterprising French immigrant named Etienne Leopold Trouvelot decided to try and produce silk from a caterpillar he introduced to the country, a caterpillar that taxonomists then considered to be closely related to the silkworm. It turned out that this mysterious foreign caterpillar was no relation to the benign silkworm; instead, it was the gypsy moth larva, which would go on to wreak havoc on trees on Trouvelot's street, in his town, and throughout New England. The black rings are tar, an innovation of the Gypsy Moth Commission, which was formed in 1868. The idea was that the caterpillars would get trapped in the tar as they made their way down the tree before hatching. In reality, however, the caterpillars don't climb down trees...Trouvelot, by the way, fled the country soon after the moth outbreak began, and was never heard from again.

So now we'll cross the Academic Quad, being sure to admire Galen Stone Tower and listen for the carillon, and then we'll head down the steps by Founders Hall and stop, facing the library and Severance Green.




Created by: Niki Zhou and Carla Holleran
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: June 25, 2004
Last Modified: August 7, 2004
Expries: June 1, 2005