Cal Poly: The First Hundred Years
On March 8, 2001, Cal Poly’s 100th birthday, the Kennedy Library released Cal Poly: The First Hundred Years. The rich holdings of the Kennedy Library’s University Archives have been captured in the first published history of the university, featuring more than 250 illustrations that include vintage black-and-white photos, aerials of the campus from May of 2000, and colorful ephemera such as yearbooks and sports programs.
The handsome volume chronicles the story of learn-by-doing at Cal Poly, from its beginnings as a co-educational vocational high school during the Progressive Era to its present-day standing as one of the country’s leading undergraduate polytechnic universities.
The book retails for $19.95 plus tax. Copies are available at El Corral Bookstore and Cal Poly Downtown.
Additional Ways to Secure a Copy
- (805) 756-1161 (local)
- (800) 367-0771 (toll-free)
- (805) 756-5320
- El Corral Bookstore
Attn.: Order Dept.
San Luis Obispo, CA. 93407
P is for Poly
The Poly P, one of the oldest hillside initials in the West, is the embodiment of Cal Poly's eventful history. Although there are several versions of the Poly P's origins, the first mention of the hillside icon is found in a 1919 issue of The Polygram, the student newspaper. Rivalry between the California Polytechnic School and San Luis Obispo High School was always intense, but one fall morning of that year, Poly students awoke to find several large stone H (for High) letters on the hills surrounding the town. The Poly students changed each H to a P; the San Luis High students battled back. Students from the Poly concentrated their defense on hillside P overlooking the campus, which has adorned the foothill ever since.
The hastily chosen site was ideal, visible from the highway, the town, and the original Administration building, where the clock tower now stands. Born out of rivalry, the P now shone as the symbol of students' pride in their campus. Throughout the 1920s, the freshman dormitory boys, under the "delicate supervision" of the sophomores, maintained the 24-by-40-foot P, tidying up its stone outline and filling it in with a fresh layer of lime. The cleaning of the P, organized by the Dormitory Club, took place each fall before the Homecoming game. After particularly rainy winters, the P received additional care from the freshmen, usually before the Easter break. Before the 1921 Homecoming game, the Dorm boys lighted a large bonfire and guarded the Poly P through the night from rivals.
Faculty also recognized the P's significance to the school, supporting the students' protective efforts. Don Fulwider '25, recalled:
One Friday night hours after the lights were out there were rumors that the school we were playing on Saturday was going to deface the P. While trying to wake another friend, I was met by Captain Deuel [the dorm monitor]. He shone his flash[light] in my face and wanted to know what was going on half the dorm was AWOL. When I told him he said, Wake your friends and get up there but spread the word — Don't step one foot off the campus.
Read more about the history of the Poly P and Cal Poly itself by ordering your copies of Cal Poly: The First Hundred Years..
The book, which retails for $19.95, plus tax, is available at El Corral Bookstore and Cal Poly Downtown. For mail orders, please call (805) 756-1161 (local) or (800) 367-0771 (toll-free).