When and why was there an airplane hangar, including two airplanes, in the middle of campus, where Evans Hall and Memorial Glade are today?
The answer to this question, plus thousands of other facts, photos and stories about Berkeley's history are now online, thanks to the Bancroft Library.
A new website called "Days at Cal" describes itself as "a virtual tour" through the history of Berkeley. The "tour" is organized in five general categories: history, a photographic tour through campus history, the Hall of Distinguished Berkeleyans, Bear traditions and original sources.
The site includes sections about past chancellors (including a new feature on former chancellor Chang-Lin Tien), a brief history of the Free Speech Movement, and the full text of Berkeley's "Charter"-the legislative act that created the university in 1868. Randomly chosen facts about campus history and randomly-chosen pictures from its past are also featured.
"I really had two goals with this website," says Steven Morgan Friedman, who created the web site (both the research and the computer programming) for Bancroft Library this summer.
"I wanted to created a hip website for the student-so you can discover fun facts about Cal's past, find great photos, and just revel in the history of your university."
"Days at Cal" is also a resource for scholars and students. Says Friedman: "The site is both a great starting point-with its general histories and time lines-for the freshman writing a history paper or searching for a fact, and also an invaluable resource for scholars, with many primary source documents fully transcribed online."
Hundreds of photographs are also included-among them scenes of the traditional freshman-sophomore brawls in the beginning of this century and a photo of President Kennedy addressing his largest audience ever in Memorial Stadium. Users can access these photos randomly or locate them using a search function.
From the random Cal Fact on the front page, users learn about the airplane hangars on campus, how the streets of Berkeley got their names or that Rube Goldberg was in the Class of '04.
"There's much more to Cal's history than the 1960s," Friedman added. "But you wouldn't know it talking to most students. This is what I hope to change."
So where was this airplane hangar? In the summer of 1917, during the First World War, a training session for the military aviation corps was established here. A wooden hangar was built "in the hollow just below the Mechanics Building," about where Evans Hall and Memorial Glade are today.
The site can be accessed at the following web address: http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/CalHistory.