That's right, Stanford University has its own zip code (94305 if I'm not mistaken). Home of the first US web site (created by SLAC), Stanford also gave rise to such companies as eBay, Hewlett Packard, Google, Cisco, and Yahoo.

Stanford opened its doors on the first of October in 1891 after six years of planning and construction. It was founded by Jane and Leland Stanford, in memory of their son, Leland Jr, who died at 15 of typhoid fever in 1884. Stanford was one of the few coeducational and nondenominational private universities of its time. In addition to donating huge wads of cash, the Stanfords also granted the university their Palo Alto Stock Farm, weighing in at over 8000 acres.

Stanford is a haven for research and palm trees. Located in Northern California, the school excels in such diverse fields as Tiger Woods, computer science, law, medicine, electrical engineering, english, and business. With one of the most pleasant campuses, beautiful people (the men ranked top 10 in Playboy's survey), and biggest minds around, Stanford is arguably one of the best, if not THE best, university in the world.

Leland Stanford Junior University
Organized 1891

The University

Stanford University is one of the world's most prestigious institutes for higher education. Located on the Stanford's former Palo Alto Stock Farm of 8,180 acres (Which can never be sold) where thoroughbred horses were raised, it is effectionatly dubbed, "The Farm." Located in Palo Alto, California it's so big that it has its own zip code (94305). The university is home to around 14,000 graduate and undergraduate students at any given time, and housing has always remained a problem (i.e. The infamous housing lottery).

Early History

The university was founded by Leland and Jane Stanford as a memorial to their son, Leland Stanford Jr., who died on March 13, 1884, of typhoid fever, on a family trip to Italy. Upon return to America in May, the Stanfords visited several prominent East Coast universities: Cornell, Harvard, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At Harvard they spoke with President Elliot asking which of 3 ideas would be most favorable: A university at Palo Alto, a large institution in San Francisco combining a lecture hall and a museum, or a technical school. Elliot replyed with a university, with an endowment of no less than $5 million.

After deciding on a university, the Stanfords decided that it would be co-ed, non-demoninational and was practical, producing "cultured and useful citizens," and on November 11, 1885, Leland Stanford called several stenographers to come from San Francisco, and dictated, without notes, the founding grant of the university. Three days later, the 24-member Board of Trustees accepted the grant.

Stanford, now a United States congressman, had little time to work on the organization of the university until summer, conferring with Francis A. Walker, president of MIT, and Frederick Law Olmsted, Central Park's architect. The actual drawing of the plans was given to 28 year-old Charles Allerton Coolidge, the youngest member of the well-known Boston firm, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge.

The original design of Stanford University by Olmsted called for a rectangular plan with long, low buildings connected by arcades to form a double quad with a naturalistic plan that blended into the surroundings. The Stanfords, however, favored a Beaux Arts design, having been heavily influenced by their European travels. The constrasting views would lead to much disagreement between the Stanfords, Olmsted, and the architecture firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge. Whatever the case, the ultimate result, a California Mission style using local sandstone and red tile roofs is now the trademark of Stanford.

On May 14, 1887, the cornerstone was laid. This was at the insistance of the Stanfords' who wished the event to coincide with their son's birthday. A little more than 4 years later, on October 1, 1891. At the time construction was complete on the Inner Quad of 12 classroom buildings plus three engineering buildings, Encina Hall for men and Roble Hall for women. David Starr Jordan, a renowned ichthyologist, from the University of Indiana, was selected in late March of 1891 as the university's new president.

A little less than 3 years after the university opened, Leland Stanford died. His funeral was held in the university's Inner Quad and began the start of a 6 year long financial battle to keep the university after Stanford's estate remained in probate. In light of husband's death, Jane Stanford rose up and took the reins of university. As advisors urged her to close the university for a time, she instead kept the university alive. Working with Dr. Jordan, they worked at cutting expenses to keep the school going... only to get slapped with a $15 million claim by the government for construction loans to the Central Pacific Railroad owned by Stanford. After appeals to President Cleveland for action by the courts, the claim was thrown out on March 2, 1896 by the United States Supreme Court. Finally, in 1898, the estate was released from probate. Jane Stanford eagerly set about constructing the building that her husband and she had planned including the Outer Quadrangle, a chemistry building, and the Memorial Church. In 1903, Jane Stanford gave all power to the board of trustees that were given to her in the founding grant. She died not too long after, on February 28, 1905, while on vacation in Hawaii, foul play remains suspect.

Stanford Presidents

  • David Starr Jordan (1891-1913)
  • John Casper Branner (1913-1915)
  • Ray Lyman Wilburt (1916-1943)
  • Donald B. Tresidder (1943-1948)
  • J.E. Wallace Sterling (1949-1968)
  • Kenneth S. Pitzer (1968-1970)
  • Richard Lyman (1970-1980)
  • Donald Kennedy (1980-1992)
  • Gehard Casper (1992-2000)
  • John L. Hennessy (2000-)

Stanford Slang

  • AA (Academic Advisor): Academic mentor for undergraduates, the person who helps students make academic decisions.
  • All Nighter (To pull an...): a common phenomenon, especially when it's time for final exams.
  • ASSU (Associated Students of Stanford University): The student government .
  • Axe: The symbol of rivalry between Stanford University and our traditional rival, U.C. Berkeley (Cal). The Axe is awarded each year to the school winning the Big Game.
  • Axess: The student information system for registering, reviewing grades, changing addresses and other administrative tasks.
  • BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit): The subway system carrying passengers throughout the San Francisco area.
  • Big Game: The annual football matchup against rival Berkeley. Traditionally it's the last, most highly anticipated football game of the season.
  • Caltrain: Don’t have a car? Need to go to San Jose or San Francisco? This is your best bet.
  • Cardinal: Stanford’s mascot: The color, not the bird! Possible link:
  • The City (Known as San Francisco to non-Bay Area residents): It's the cultural center of the Bay Area and popular with students when they want to get off campus.
  • The Claw: The nickname for the fountain in White Plaza, between the Bookstore and Old Union.
  • Co Ho (Coffee House): Place for late-night java, music, backgammon, studying and beer (For those over 21).
  • Co Po (Corner Pocket): Located in Tresidder and home of pizza-by-the-slice and fro yo (frozen yogurt).
  • The Daily Stanford: Students’ independent newspaper.
  • Dead Week: The week immediately preceding finals week. It is intended that students study feverishly during this week.
  • Dink Dinkelspiel: Music building (Or the auditorium housed therein), directly across from Tresidder.
  • The Dish: The largest of the radio telescopes in the hills behind Lake Lagunita. Also short-hand for the open space area behind Stanford in which this radio telescope is located.
  • Dollies: The five spirited women who accompany the Stanford Band with dance routines.
  • The Draw: The ultimate in stress Spring Quarter. This hair-raising process decides students' housing fate for the coming year.
  • EANABs: Equally attractive non-alcoholic beverages. Required at campus parties serving alcohol.
  • The Farm: Campus nickname, derived from the days when horses rather than students roamed in what previously was the farm of university founders Leland and Jane Stanford.
  • Flicks: A stress-relieving movie screening on Sunday evenings.
  • Flo Mo: Florence Moore Hall, a dormitory complex.
  • Fountain Hopping: A common activity after football games.
  • Gaieties: The student-written, student-produced musical performed the weekend before Big Game.
  • Hoover Tower: Erected in honor of Herbert Hoover. An elevator ride to the top provides an outstanding view of campus and the Bay Area.
  • IHUM: Introduction to the Humanities, the program of courses that all freshmen take in to satisfy a graduation requirement.
  • IMs: Intramurals Sports tournaments ranging from football to inner-tube water polo that are expressly for dorm teams. A source of good-natured dorm rivalries.
  • Lake Lag: A deep wide basin at the corner of campus; don’t, however, look for the lake there until mid-January or February, when winter rains have an opportunity to fill the lake.
  • LSJUMB: Those merry masters of madcap melody, the truly incomparable Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band!
  • Mem Aud: Memorial Auditorium, the largest on campus.
  • Mem Chu: Memorial Church.
  • Oski: The Berkeley Golden Bear -- and the nemesis of Stanford's Tree.
  • The Oval: The large grassy elliptical area at the end of Palm Drive that's perfect for an afternoon of Frisbee or volleyball.
  • PAA: Peer Advising Associate An invaluable source of information to freshmen about planning which classes to take.
  • Primal Scream: Tradition of stress alleviation for students. Listen for it at midnight the Sunday night of Dead Week.
  • Quad: An enclosure of buildings housing some of the classroom space on campus and many departmental offices.
  • RA (Resident Assistant): The truly dedicated upperclass student who lives in dorms and serve roles ranging from dorm activity coordinator to advisor, confidant and friend.
  • RCC (Resident Computer Coordinator): The human guide to computers that comes with every dorm.
  • The Row (Mayfield Avenue): Location of some upperclass houses and fraternities.
  • Stern Dining Hall: Open weeknights until 1 a.m. for students in search of a late-night snack.
  • Tres Ex: Stanford's rendition of a 7-Eleven.
  • The Tree: The Stanford Band's mascot.
  • White Plaza: Otherwise known as downtown Stanford; the wide open space that contains Old Union, the Claw, the Bookstore, the post office, and Tresidder Union.
  • The Zoo (KZSU): 90.1 FM, Stanford’s student radio station.

Famous Alumni

Companies Created at Stanford or Founded by Stanford Alumni

Ah, yes. My alma mater. Stanford is a great place to spend four years of your life.

Stanford was founded in 1891 by robber baron Leland Stanford and his wife Jane in memory of their sickly son Leland Jr., who died of typhoid fever at the age of 16. Leland Sr. kicked the bucket just two years later so it was up to Jane to shape the university in the image of her Victorian values. She would probably be sputtering in some form of righteous indignation if she knew that today Stanford is the epitome of laid-backness and California cool. Jane was later murdered mysteriously, perhaps even at the behest of the university's first president, David Starr Jordan, but that's another story.

Stanford has since evolved from a sleepy small-town university for stuck-up rich white kids into one of the top research universities in the world. Some pretty cool things have happened at Stanford over the years. Stanford physicists won the Nobel Prize three years running from 1996-1998. Lewis Terman invented the IQ test. Psych professor Philip Zimbardo conducted the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment. Vladimir Nabokov and Wallace Stegner taught literature. Raymond Carver wrote fiction at Stanford.

Ever heard of Silicon Valley? There's a reason why it's located right next to Stanford. A Stanford server received the first packet ever sent over the internet in 1969. Hewlett and Packard were both Stanford alums. A guy named Jerry Yang started some company called Yahoo! while a student at Stanford. Google was born inside a brightly colored lego house in the basement of Stanford's Computer Science building. Sun Microsystems? The "Sun" originally stood for "Stanford University Networks." I could go on.

Some other famous people were students at Stanford. Supreme Court justices William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor. First female astronaut Sally Ride. John Elway honed both his football spiral and his fastball at Stanford, and Tiger Woods perfected his swing on the beautiful Stanford Golf Course. I'm not sure what to say about Ted Koppel though. And perhaps Herbert Hoover shouldn't be mentioned. That Great Depression thing kind of sucked.

Stanford has some wacky traditions. There is "Full Moon on the Quad" where seniors and "seniors" kiss freshmen and give them mono. There is the Mausoleum Party at Halloween when everybody dances on the Stanfords' graves. Exotic Erotic is the skankiest party imaginable (think tubs of pudding, blow-up dolls, and giant penises). There is the no-longer-well-named "Gaieties" musical, which mostly involves trashing UC Berkeley and lots of nudity.

And then there is the Stanford Band. Crazy costumes. whore-riffic pseudo-cheerleaders called "Dollies." Lots of booze. Rock and Roll music. That crazy tree. Banned from two states and Notre Dame (could it possibly have been the pregnant nuns?). Tried to tip an airplane mid-flight. Honestly, what more could you ask?

Oddly enough, for an elite academic institution, Stanford has been ridiculously good at sports over the years. Walter Camp, the inventor of modern American football, coached at Stanford. So did Pop Warner, the creator of the I-formation. Stanford has produced more Olympians than any other university and has won the Sears Director's Cup for winningest collegiate athletic program nine years running. Stanford's fine baseball team has been to the College World Series 14 times. The annual Big Game between Stanford and California has produced one of the longest-running and the most storied rivalries in college football, creating such legends as the Stanford Axe, the Immortal Twenty-one, the most famous play in college football history, and the Axe Yell:

Give 'em, the axe, the axe, the axe,
give 'em, the axe, the axe, where?
Right, in the neck, in the neck, in the neck
right, in the neck, in the neck, there!

And of course Stanford has a gorgeous sprawling campus, with some great places to make out: a raft on Lake Lagunita; the meandering paths of the poppy-laden Stanford Foothills; the tiki garden at night. Bored? You can always go steam-tunneling or fountain hopping or climb Hoover Tower or explore the utter strangeness that is grad student life in Escondido Village.

All in all a strange, surreal, beautiful place.

How it's like to go to Stanford, at least as an undergrad:

  There is this thing we have called the Duck Syndrome. Basically, you see this serene-looking duck gliding on the surface of a lake, and you think, ah, duckies! Woot. And how relaxed and gracefully it moves across the lake, doing these number 8s

        while those tiny little legs are kicking FURIOUSly under the water.

  So on the surface you have the kids running around throwing frisbees shirtless on the lawns, mucking around with the band on their band runs, partying hard on weekends, and then you go to Green library, and you see the same frat boy who was doing that amazing keg stand giving you a sober nod as you walk by, as he tries to grind thinner the right side of his open engineering textbook.

  It's sad, really. You have all these ex-nerds who spend all of their freshman year trying to master the art of drinking and coming off as cool or wacky college kids, but they all know deep down who their daddy is. It's that problem set due next week, or midterm or final, or final project, or whatever. So you go through these four years looking around you at this sort of thin experience that's not exactly college and not exacty grad school. No one's totally into anything, so the parties are halfway ok but end way too early, the kids care enough to do well-enough in tests to make the grading curve annoying, but not enough to remember what happened once the next quarter rolls in. Palo Alto, the surrounding city, also sucks. A bourgeois stretch of road leading out of campus that's nothing but wall-to-wall expensive restaurants and exotic furniture stores, and maybe two bars that are so lame even the fizzy cocktails can't sparkle, and the alcohol will only make you sad drunk.

  Like I said, it's a thin, mildly-offputting Kafkaesque experience. But if you do end up going to Stanford, I highly recommend hanging out with the international students. You can say they're the Stanford rich kids who actually know how to spend money in interesting ways, if you're international too (yay me) they're the ones who will hang out with you in the airports of connecting flights or fuck it, our flights leave in about four hours, let's see what Zurich's up to, the ones that host soirees not parties in their off-campus houses, the ones who know how to get a hold of the more interesting drugs like molly and blow, why lie, these are cool kids. Also fun are the hipsters and assorted artsy types, but sure to bring along your irony for a fun time. The football players are also neat too.

  OK, I can't knock it too much, I had fun. Just don't expect the experience to make itself, you've got to get in there and make it happen for yourself.

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