Answered By: Alison Carrick
Last Updated: Dec 21, 2022     Views: 1838

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):

drawing of speed bump by A. H. Compton

The "humps" were quite popular and even liked by Mrs. Betty Compton, as recorded in several newspaper clippings also 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 were installed along Throop Drive, the service road which runs along the northern edge of campus.  However, no examples of these speed bumps exist on campus any longer.

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