Campus Memories: Taking a Stroll Down Lovers’ Lane

Now that it is officially summer and campus has emptied out, it’s a perfect time to take a wander down memory lane. There’s no better place to start than by exploring Lovers’ Lane!

Cover of The Siren, October 1911

Cover of The Siren, October 1911

Lovers’ Lane was located on Daniel Street and Champaign, between Fourth Street and Wright Street [1], next to the Kappa Alpha Theta house. For decades, it was a spot close to campus where couples would gather to take walks.

From The Siren, November 1921

From The Siren, November 1921

Lovers’ Lane was even featured on the October 1911 cover of The Siren. It’s no wonder the lane, and its proximity to sorority houses, was profiled; The Siren’s editor lived on Daniel Street in the Beta Theta Pi house [2].

As the University replaced brick walkways with cement, a Champaign City ordinance necessitated the removal of the great trees to create a sidewalk [3]. A 1915 Daily Illini article notes, “The sentiment of the majority of people living along the street seems to be in-favor of making the new walk narrower so that the long, shaded lane may be spared to future generations of strolling lovers” [4]. This, however, was not to be the case. The trees were condemned after the fall of 1915 and all had been removed by 1926 [5].

Lovers Lane

Lovers’ Lane

The loss of the walk meant, of course, that courting lovers needed to find elsewhere to stroll. Many couples took to University Hall. Uni Hall soon saw a  “[c]ongestion of cooing couples” spending time on its basement benches; a Daily Illini article joked that “administration [was] seriously considering changing the name of the hall to Lovers’ Lane” and that students were saving significant money on shoe leather, as they were spending less time promenading [6]. By the end of the 1930s, students were calling for a new lovers’ lane in South Campus [7]. Though no official path was constructed, students in the 1940s began calling secluded parts of South Campus “Lovers’ Lane,” as this part of campus was off-limits in the evenings [8].

Even after Lovers’ Lane was razed, it was still a popular reference point, particularly for alumni returning to campus. In the Homecoming issue of the 1921 Siren, for example, the editors describe alumni visitors as those “who know…why the arbored walk on Daniel Street goes by the name of Lovers’ Lane”[9].

As you pass by Daniel Street on our now-quiet campus, remember the “cloistered walk for the heart smitten” so dear to the past campus community [10].

 

[1] “May Destroy Daniel Street Lovers Lane by Ordinance,” Daily Illini, May 21, 1915.
[2] Siren Vol. II, No. 1, p. 8.
[3]-[4] Daily Illini, May 21, 1915.
[5] Daily Illini, October 9, 1926.
[6] “New Lovers Lane,” Daily Illini, May 4, 1921.
[7] “Throw South Campus Wide Open,” May 26, 1937.
[8] “Sherman Recalls UI Daze,” Daily Illini, September 27, 1963.
[9] Siren Vol. IX no. 3. November 1921. p. 9.
[10] “Fate of Lovers Have to Be Decided,” Daily Illini, August 12, 1915.

 

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