Piazza Leonardo and the Poli: “Once, here it was all palm trees”

From the archive of our MAP, we relive the old look of “Piazza Leo” in the years in which it became the first home of the Politecnico

Long before they reached the Duomo (do you remember them?), brought by an American coffee shop chain, the palms arrived in Milan, in Piazza Leonardo da Vinci, almost a century earlier.  

In 1915, the first stone of the Città Studi complex was laid, and shortly afterwards the first palm trees were also planted. Postcards from the past, which bring us greetings from that era, show us that the palm trees were there even in the 1930s and 1940s. In that “expanse of Lambrate fields”, as Carlo Emilio Gaddadescribed it, there rose an exotic landscape; an African panorama under which the first students began to write our story. In 1920, the author of Quer pasticciaccio brutto de via Merulana. graduated in Electronic Engineering at the Politecnico. A year earlier, Gio Pontigraduated in Architecture. In the shade of a palm tree, they prepared for their future.  

The postcards reached us thanks to the great virtual archive project Milano Sparita e da Ricordare, (Milan Disappeared and to Remember), a Facebook page that collects images and photos of the Milan of the past. There are many comments and shares of the photos of the Politecnico at the time of the palm trees. Someone writes “My father would remember it like this” and another tells us “They were replaced immediately after the war with black locusts and holly bushes.” Behind this collection is the desire to rediscover together the wonders of the past and present “of a city that many think is just fog and smog,” say the administrators of the page. And instead, we add, it is also vintage palm trees

See the gallery: 

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