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Compton Speed Bumps for Traffic Control, 1953


Nobel-Prize-winning physicist and former Washington University Chancellor Arthur Holly Compton often took time from his scientific and administrative duties for pleasurable diversions like playing his banjo-mandolin at the annual freshman picnic. After watching motorists speed along the thoroughfare in front of Brookings Hall (now known as Hoyt Drive), Compton designed a series of speed bumps, which were first installed along Hoyt Drive in the spring of 1953. Compton produced two different variations on the same design: one with a single hump; one with a double hump. Both can be seen in the graphic below (original located in Compton's Personal Papers, Series 04, Box 01, Notebook June - July, 1953):

[gif of Compton's design for the bumps] Higher Resolution image also available(1.74MB pdf)

The "humps" were quite popular and even liked by Mrs. Betty Compton, as recorded in several newspaper clippingsalso saved in his notebook

The original bumps were eventually removed, but two of Compton's one-bump models were constructed on each end of Hoyt Drive in 1992 as part of the University's celebration of the 100th anniversary of Compton's birth. Other Compton Bumps have since been installed along Throop Drive, the service road which runs along the northern edge of campus.

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