Observing Britton Plaza: History

Britton Plaza: the heart of campus. How has this area changed through history? When completing this assignment, I imagined hands of a clock spinning back in time. 50 years. 100 years. 1000 years.

First, I observed the nature. I imagined the dense forests, spanning for miles, only to be cleared and turned into the buzzing hub of activity it is today. I see several large oaks are placed tastefully in the Plaza, perhaps a century old. Next, only a few feet away are young saplings. How will these look in a couple hundred years? Will they still be there? Or will time and advancement drive them away as it did for their grandfather trees? I then turned to the woodchip walkway. Once large trees as well, they are now chopped and grinded, simply for our aesthetic and walking convenience. Why has this nature been manipulated throughout history? It tells a story about our human needs and what we believe is important for the center of our campus.

Then, I turned to the people. I imagined the original students of Dickinson College, walking through this area, whatever it may have looked like. I then pictured the subtle changes over time- styles, mannerisms, technologies, and areas of studies changing. I imagined the innovation and ideas accompanying this time lapse.

I then turned to the buildings in this area: the HUB, the Library, and Biddle House. I observed and noted their vast differences in architecture. Biddle House, a former private home, is tasteful and elegant, whereas the HUB and Library has a more severe, practical vibe. I imagined how striking the difference in architecture would have been at one point, only to fall basically unnoticed today.

This exercise helped me realize the vast amount of history and information stored all around us. Each landscape tells an ongoing, different story. While we cannot know the exact time and date of every major occurrence, if we open our eyes, we can look to the landscape to provide us with patterns and insight we may have originally overlooked.

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