I observed four small monuments to create one larger monument. I took a closer look at the four main gateways that surround the historic Old Queens campus on the College Avenue Campus (the Henry Rutgers Baldwin Gateway, the Class of 1882 Memorial Gateway, the Class of 1883 Memorial Gateway, and the Class of 1902 Memorial Gateway). Overtime, these donated and preserved gifts from graduates from these years, have served as a link to graduates that preceded them as well as future graduates to come.
When I began researching Old Queens, I first found the rich history of the architecture of the buildings to be the most fascinating. In terms of the gateways, I had not even considered to regard them as monuments, let alone had the desire to investigate them further. However, in reading various online articles about Old Queens, I came across the Rutgers Library Special Collections section, where I learned that they had each been individually donated by various graduated classes. I found it particular curious as to why not one, but four classes had donated gateways to the university as gifts and wished to explore this more in depth.
It was my sense of surprise that lead me to re-evaluate my chosen monument for my project, which brought me to understand that the history of these gifts are just as rich as the buildings of Old Queens. In using Trachtenberg’s ideas that monuments can have “usable pasts,” I was able to analyze that these gateways allow for the freezing of memories that the Class of 1882, 1883, and 1902 left behind for future Rutgers scholars to study. Personally, it allowed me to explore the symbolism and the history of this campus, which lead me to figure out what the gateways’ true expected narrative is.
Through personally observing these gateways, I’ve been able to conclude that their expected narrative is one of progress. Ultimately, the gateways have come to represent the progress of pursuing knowledge and how Rutgers University has and will provide this for its students of the past, present, and future.