University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame

America - Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger

Notre Dame, March 1, 1964

The First Time by Car to Chicago

One can best experience the modern, industrialized America between Gary, Hammond, East Chicago and the center of the City of Chicago. The Indiana Toll Road streaks through the steel mills of Gary and the refineries of Hammond to the Chicago Skyway which spans over the Harbor of Chicago. The Skyway runs into the 14-lane Dan Ryan Expressway that leads directly to the Loop in the center of town. To drive for the first time on these freeways is an impressive, although also a stressful experience. One gains the impression that America has solved the technological problems of population density and the sprawl of the industrial areas as well as the traffic jams in the big cities in a most rational way. The population is overall moving into the suburbs. The suburbs or residential areas surround the city in a 60 mile radius, while they are more and more extending.


[In a circumference of about 100 miles Chicago has, after New York and Los Angeles, the third largest population concentration in America. Despite continuous improvements and new road constructions, it is difficult to meet the needs of the increasing traffic volume. At rush hours long traffic congestions on the Dan Ryan Expressway are not rare anymore.]

Notre Dame, March 2, 1964

A Country of Asylum for the Aristocracy

It is surprising to find out that the United States, since its foundation, has always been a country of asylum also for the European aristocracy. During the French Revolution members of the French high aristocracy sought refuge in the Etats-Unis. Also during the revolutionary upheavals in the 19th and 20th centuries, aristocrats from Europe who had been persecuted for political reasons fled to America, where they were received with open­heartedness.

Notre Dame, March 5, 1964

Campus Architecture

On a tour through an American university campus, one can study the various architectural styles the United States has gone through in the course of its history. Inevitably, one will at first come across some of the raw brick and wooden structures from the colonial period or pioneer times. Then one will see the temple-like buildings with their many columns from the “Greek Revival” period. Predominantly, however, are the ivy-covered halls of the “College Gothic” style with their pointed arch windows, narrow entrances, turrets, adornments and Latin inscriptions. They give the campus a nearly medieval, scholastic ambience. But at the moment, as the new, large library building on the Notre Dame campus demonstrates, a new architectural style is emerging that is, detached from European models, more functional. It will give American colleges and universities a new look.

Notre Dame, March 10, 1964

Cut Off from the Outside World

The American Middle West remains to a large extent cut off from the outside world. For example, it is not possible to exchange a note in a foreign currency into dollars at a bank in South Bend.

Notre Dame, March 18, 1964

The Civil Rights Bill

The Civil Rights Bill is up for a vote in Congress. It is regarded as the most important legislation to overcome racial discrimination in the United States since the Fourteenth Amendment of 1866 that gave the colored population citizenship after emancipation.

The Civil Rights Bill was already adopted by the House of Representatives on February 10 by a vote of 290:130, and was then passed on to the Senate. The debate that is now unfolding in the Senate puts this important legislation again in doubt. The representatives of the South argue among other things that this law would limit the right of a private citizen to make his own decisions. The owner of a restaurant, for example, would lose his right to decide who may enter his establishment or who may not. Furthermore, the senators from the South point out that the execution of this law would give the federal government in Washington too much power. They also express their concern that mob violence could break out.

[The debate in the Senate dragged on until June. Voting was mostly delayed by filibuster, i.e., obstruction policy by marathon speaking. See entry below of June 10, 1964.]


[The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was proposed by a resolution of Congress in 1866. After it had been ratified by three fourths of the States in the Union, it became law in 1868. Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Thereby, the foundation for American citizenship was laid. At the same time, about four million people of color who had been emancipated from slavery received citizenship.]

[March 23 - April 1, 1964]

Round Trip during Easter Vacation

The three states tour: Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky - eight days by car - 2,000 miles (3,200 km) covered.

The Itinerary:

Indiana: From South Bend in southwesterly direction via Rochester to Lafayette/West Lafayette (location of Purdue University); further on westward to:

Illinois: Via Danville to Urbana/Champaign (location of the University of Illinois); further on to Springfield, the capital of Illinois. In Springfield a visit of the Lincoln Memorial sites, including the Pioneer Village of New Salem, which is located ten miles to the northwest. There, Abraham Lincoln started practicing law and being active in politics. From Springfield we drove south to the Mississippi River and St. Louis, Missouri. On the right hand bank of the Mississippi one could see the gigantic construction site of the “Gateway Arch” project.

Gateway Arch, St. Louis

After eight years of construction, the Gateway Arch was completed and opened to the public in May of 1968. This masterpiece of modern architecture stands on the right hand bank of the Mississippi River in St. Louis at the center of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial park. The stainless steel Arch, which rises 630 feet into the sky, is a symbol of the gateway to the Western expansioni and settlement of the American West in the 19th century. Inside the two columns of the Arch, a narrow-track cog railroad leads to the top. The observation station at the top of the Arch affords a magnificent panoramic view: To the East, one can look across the Mississippi far into Illinois, and to the West, across St. Louis far out into the suburbs. This photo was taken the middle of October, 2000.

[The Gateway Arch, which with its altitude of 630 feet (192 m) frames the skyline of the city, has become the landmark of St. Louis.] After a short stop in St. Louis, we traveled south on the Illinois side of the Mississippi; at first to Fort Kaskaskia, and then further on to the area of “Little Egypt” via Thebes to the promontory of Cairo, where the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi. Cairo, Illinois, was on the itinerary of this journey because the surrounding area is reminiscent of a famous scene in French literature. In his novel Atala (1801), Francois Chateaubriand had chosen the mouth of the Ohio River as the fictitious backdrop for “Les Funérailles d’Atala.”

Kentucky: After crossing the bridge over the Ohio, we visited the “Mounds,” the burial grounds of various Indian tribes at Wickliffe in Kentucky. From there we moved on via Paducah to the Kentucky Dam Village State Park. Here, at the dam of the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) a recreational resort area has been developed. At a length of 183 miles (293 km), the Kentucky Lake is regarded as one of the longest man made lakes in the world. From the Kentucky Dam Village we drove on the newly-built Western Kentucky Parkway eastward through marvelous natural scenery to Elizabethtown and Bardstown in Central Kentucky. In Hodgenville near Elizabethtown we visited the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. The Log Cabin in which Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 stands in a museum like building open to visitors. As had been planned in advance, the family spent Easter in Bardstown, a bishop’s see with a well-known cathedral. The renovated plantation “Old Kentucky Home” stands on Federal Hill in Bardstown. It was named after the song “My Old Kentucky Home,” which Stephen Foster had composed there in 1853. In the Old Stone Inn we could enjoy a delicious Kentucky Easter meal. From Bardstown we drove directly north via Louisville to Indianapolis and then back to South Bend. Thus, this long and very informative round trip came to a happy conclusion.

The Big Surprise

The big surprise of this journey was the small town of Bardstown in Kentucky. Central Kentucky belongs to the oldest areas of settlement west of the Appalachians. Bardstown was founded in 1788. Little known is the fact that Louis Philippe of Orleans (1773-1850), the later King Louis Philippe of France, after having fled the French Revolution, spent the winter of 1796 in the Old Stone Inn in Bardstown. During the long winter, he supposedly painted al fresco on the walls of his room. The allegorical figures of these murals show the demise of the Old World in contrast to the flowering of the New. They express specifically the view of the “bon sauvage,” the idea of the noble savage. As a token of his gratitude for the hospitality that had been extended to him, Louis Philippe as King of France sent as gifts to the St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Bardstown a number of paintings that are attributed to the school of Van Dyck.

Observations and Travel Impressions

Indiana and Illinois have rich agricultural areas, where also large industries have developed; altogether a high living standard and progressing communities.

The racial problem shifted to a large extent to the ghettos of the big cities, where it represents a serious danger and is urgently pressing for a solution.

The Mississippi and Ohio Rivers are a distinct cultural border line between North and South. While the agricultural areas in Indiana and Illinois thrive and prosper, even a Border State like Kentucky shows long stretches of images of poverty and neglect.

What comes to the particular attention of the traveler from Europe is the historical continuity of American institutions. This applies at first to the enduring political order since the foundation of the Union in 1789. Upheavals, changes of public institutions as well as changing borders, as they happened in Europe as the result of revolutions and wars, are practically non existent. One gains the strong impression of an extraordinary stability of the legal and political system in this country.

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