Rain, snow and fun: a look back at Oxy’s weather

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Snow covers the field of Jack Kemp Stadium at Occidental College in January 1949. Grace Pozen/The Occidental

Los Angeles is well-known as the land of sunshine for its beautiful weather year-round. With many students coming from climates of rain, snow and sleet, sunshine is one of the reasons why a campus such as Occidental is appealing. However, there is more to LA weather than a 70-degree forecast. LA and the Occidental campus have experienced weather such as snow and heavy rain throughout the years. With a historically cold February here in LA, a look at the college campus then and now may tell us more about what living in LA means — maybe even what the Occidental spirit is all about.

A group of students make a snowman on what is now part of Jack Kemp Stadium in January 1949. 1949 was one of three years when LA experienced considerable amounts of snowfall, the other years being 1882 and 1932. Snowfall brought with it much joy for students at the time, who can be seen sporting overcoats and gloves as they make the most out of the rare weather occurrence. Seventy years later, similar weather phenomena in LA still occur on campus. Graupel, which is similar to hail, struck campus Feb. 21. Jack Kemp Stadium may remain snowless today, but it still experiences gloomy weather, pictured here March 1.

Snow covers the field of Jack Kemp Stadium at Occidental College in January 1949. Grace Pozen/The Occidental
View of the Marketplace from the Jack Kemp Stadium field at Occidental College. Friday, March 1, 2019. Grace Pozen/The Occidental

The snow in 1949 blanketed many familiar areas with a white sheet, as seen in this photograph of a student walking between Johnson Hall and the Tiger Cooler. The surrounding area remains virtually the same 70 years later, minus the snow — apparent in a photo from March 1.

Snow-covered view of campus leading up to Weingart Gallery at Occidental College. Photo taken in January 1949. Image courtesy of Occidental Special Collections
View of campus leading up to Weingart Gallery at Occidental College. Friday, March 1, 2019. Grace Pozen/The Occidental

The graupel Feb. 21 may have been quite the sighting, but it was nothing compared to the snow that covered the Emmons Rear Garden in 1949. A thick layer of snow covered the walkway and the surrounding trees. In 1949, trees and bushes are still visible behind Emmons. Now, the rear garden leads directly to Stearns Hall, pictured here on again March 1.

Emmons Rear Garden at Occidental College, taken January 1949. Image courtesy of Occidental Special Collections
View of the backside of Emmons Wellness Center at Occidental College. Friday, March 1, 2019. Grace Pozen/The Occidental

Also from the Emmons Rear Garden, the snow-covered trees of Sycamore Glen. Today, the trees remain green without any signs of snow or winter. The snow is now replaced by the construction on the Bioscience building.

Snow at Occidental College. Photo taken in January 1949. Image courtesy of Occidental Special Collections.
View of the Moore Lab of Zoology across the Sycamore Glen at Occidental College. Friday, March 1, 2019. Grace Pozen/The Occidental

Snow wasn’t the only weather to come to the Occidental campus. In a photograph from November 1963, heavy rain falls. Two students walking down the Academic Quad captured dealing with the rain in two different ways: one of them maybe not so well. The Academic Quad is usually sunny, however, clouds hang overhead as a student is seen walking March 1.

Rain on the quad at Occidental College. Photo taken November 1963. Image courtesy of Occidental Special Collections
A student walks through the quad at Occidental College. Friday, March 1, 2019. Grace Pozen/The Occidental

Whether it’s snow or rain, seeing LA without its famous sunshine may just show us what makes a campus like Occidental so special. Students have made the most of LA weather, even when it is not all sunshine and warmth. Perhaps in 2019, unusual weather can bring back some of that same spirit to the Occidental campus once more.