Saint Louis University

1932 image of SLU

The SLU2018 Landscape History project examines the ways in which the physical campus of Saint Louis University has grown, changed and adapted as part of the St. Louis metro area.  The University will be celebrating its bicentennial in 2018, and this study is one of the ways that the University is exploring its history.

The SLU main campus at the corner of Grand and Lindell Blvds in Mid Town St. Louis has changed considerably since DuBourg Hall, the first campus building, was constructed.  By using aerial photography and satellite imagery this project will show how the present campus is a palimpsest of the past, in that traces of past settlement and urban areas are still present in both the layout of the campus and in soil around campus.

Aerial photography collected using extremely high definition MIST cameras deployed through a cooperative research agreement between  SLU and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.  The photographs will be used to create a 3D model of the topography of campus, and will be used in a process called photogrammetry to create micro-topographical studies of open areas of campus in order to detail possible sub-surface features.  

In March 2012 a thermal camera used by NGI will be deployed to take very sensitive thermal images of campus.  These images can be used to define minute temperature differences in soil, which can again lead to the discovery of sub-surface features.  

When these two techniques are utilized with the study of historic maps and photography of campus, we will be able to detail a complete picture of how certain areas of campus changed over time, and the extent to which further archaeological excavation might lead to a more detailed understanding of late nineteenth and early twentieth century St. Louis.