General Views: Evanston Campus

The land for Northwestern University’s Evanston Campus was purchased by the University’s founders in 1854. When the University was chartered in 1851, the founders bought a block of land at LaSalle and Jackson streets in the heart of downtown Chicago for the new school. They later decided that the growing city would not provide the appropriate atmosphere for the university they had envisioned and began looking for land in outlying areas near the city. After considering a plot in Jefferson Township (northwest of the city), they purchased 379 acres of farmland along Lake Michigan, twelve miles north of Chicago, with the intention of gradually selling some off the land to finance the University. The Northwestern officers platted what became the town of Evanston, built their first building near the downtown area, and began selling lots in the town to spur the growth of their new university. They named the town after one of their group, John Evans, an influential Chicago physician, who was later appointed as governor of the Colorado territory and continued to serve on the University’s Board of Trustees until his death in 1897.

From three buildings in 1871, the University’s Evanston Campus has seen approximately 150 buildings rise on its grounds, and the total area of the campus now stands at 240 acres. For the first fifty years of Northwestern's history, campus buildings filled the southernmost portion of the University’s land holdings, orienting the campus toward downtown Evanston. After the turn of the century, the University began to expand northward to accommodate its growing needs for classroom buildings and student housing. Swift Hall, Patten Gymnasium, and the Men's Quads were all built on the north campus between 1900 and 1920. In 1932, the University's trustees voted to commemorate the generosity of two significant donors by naming the southern area of the campus, between University Place and Willard Place, the Milton J. Wilson Campus, and the area north to Lincoln Street the James A. Patten Campus.

After World War II, with thousands of new students eager to attend the University, classroom and housing space on the campus were quickly found to be inadequate, and quonset huts and other temporary structures were erected on several open areas across the campus, including behind Lunt Hall and adjacent to Dyche Stadium. Between 1949 and 1974, over forty buildings were constructed or remodeled on the Evanston campus to accommodate the University’s growth. The most significant addition to the campus began in 1962 with the construction of the J. Roscoe Miller Campus on seventy-four acres of lakefill. This addition to the Evanston campus, dedicated in 1964, along with another ten acres of lakefill added in 1968, made it possible for the University to expand to the east and has been the site of much of the new construction on the campus in recent years.

Evanston Campus:
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