October 1, 1891: Stanford University opens after six years of construction.
In 1884, Leland Stanford, Jr., the only child of Leland (the same Stanford of transcontinental railroad fame) Stanford, died of typhoid fever. The same year, he and his wife, Jane Stanford, began planning a nondenominational, co-ed, prestigious university in Leland, Jr.’s honor, to be funded by Stanford’s own railroad fortune. The pioneer class, made up of over 500 students (both men and women), included future president Herbert Hoover and his wife.
Today, Stanford has expanded to cover 8,180 acres, the largest contiguous campus of any American university. It is also regarded as one of the most esteemed universities in the world, (both its undergraduate and graduate programs); Forbes named it sixth in the nation, while Time named it fourth in the world, ahead of Yale, Princeton, and Oxford.