Cornell's Rock Park

Fossilized tree trunkWhen Cornell's Department of Geological Sciences, which is now the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, moved from McGraw Hall to Kimball Hall in 1971, several large rocks that had been displayed inside McGraw had to be relocated.
Meyer Bender '29, a long-time benefactor of the department, became interested in the idea of placing the rocks outdoors where they would appear in a more natural setting, could be easily accessed for teaching purposes, and where passers-by could readily examine them. He and his wife, Gertrude, provided the funds to build two rock parks on the Pew Engineering Quad in front of Kimball, Thurston, and Bard Halls.

The first, “Rock Park East,” was installed in 1971 and accommodated the rocks formerly in McGraw. The second, “Rock Park West,” was completed in the fall of 1978 following an ambitious effort, led by Ted Snedden '78, to acquire large rock specimens from across New York and New England and create a collection that was representative of the geology of the region.
In 2022, both collections were moved to the southeastern portion of the Pew Engineering Quad and rearranged to align with how faculty use the rocks in their teaching. The Bender family also sponsored additional rock parks on the east side of Snee Hall and at the Cornell Center for Jewish Living.