It was the tall and mighty oak trees that caught Orrington Lunt's eye on his first visit to the land that today is Northwestern University's Evanston campus.
"The thought first struck me that this is where the high and dry ground began," Lunt, one of the University's founders, later wrote. "It continued in my dreams of that night, and I could not rid myself of the fairy visions constantly presenting themselves in fanciful beauties — of the gentle waving lake — its pebbly shore — the beautiful oak openings and bluffs beyond."
Bedazzled by the hardwoods along the Lake Michigan shore 12 miles north of Chicago, Lunt helped convince the other founders that this was the place to build Northwestern University.
The majestic bur and white oaks, some well over 200 years old, still stand in splendor on the Evanston campus. You'll find these hardy native oaks by the John Evans Alumni Center and in the wooded grove between University Hall and Deering Meadow and north of Deering Library. They are home to squirrels, cardinals, Cooper's hawks and crows that often roost in them in late afternoon.
The oaks, some of the longest-lived trees on campus, share their space with densely leafed maples, arching American elms, clump crab apples and delicately branching Eastern redbuds.
These majestic leafy and pine-boughed sentinels stand in glory throughout the four seasons.