Craig Box's journeys, stories and notes...

Boston and Harvard University

Oh no, Sara's not going to.. with the.. POLE, is she?I went on a Contiki trip around Europe a couple of years ago, and met some cool people. I put a call out to some who were close to Toronto and ended up with an offer to stay in Boston with a friend named Sara. Here's an out-of-context picture of her on the Metro in Munich.

Sara lives in Somerville, which is actually two cities over from Boston, but part of the "greater" metropolitan area. She works at MIT, which is in Cambridge (named for the city where this travel started a month prior), and goes to university in Boston.

Confused yet? Here's a picture. Pictures relieve boredom.


The MBTA, locally known as the T, is much older and less tended to than the Underground I rode on to the airport I departed from earlier in that day. It doesn't go all the way to the airport, the cars are wide and creaky, and it looks like they stopped upgrading anything in 1984. But, it gets you where you need to go - I was staying a few blocks from Davis station. Buses ran semi-regularly but the walk was pleasant enough.

(I think I'm danger of becoming a metrophile.)

I had the usual "look the wrong way crossing the road" problem, and couldn't figure out this crazy 'fahrenheit' system. I'd adjusted to miles per hour though, having driven around England for a month; can't estimate distance in them though. (I grew up taught only metric, yet describe myself as 6 foot tall. Go figure...)

Tourists should do the "Unofficial" Hahvahd University tour, more popular than the official one by several orders of magnitude, and now, strangely, enough, official. Go figure again. It's a great insight into the oldest university in the US, and, erm, "most well endowed" in the world. In case you're wondering about the spelling, it's how they pronounce their Rs in Boston.

They're proud of how old their institute is - founded in 1636, it's older than the Declaration of Independence (1776), for example - but they don't really have a global perspective, being that their city is named after the home of the second oldest university in the English-speaking world, founded in 1209.

Boston is also very famous for its role in the foundation of America, of course, which we'll get to in a later post.

They play up the rivalry between the City of Cambridge and the University: the gatehouse building on the right, due to taxes, was the most expensive building, per square foot, on campus.

Cambridge wanted to build a fire station near the campus, but the university only agreed to give them the land on the condition their firehouse was built in the style of a Harvard building. This almost doubled the cost, and came back to bite them when Memorial Hall caught fire in 1956. Cambridge FD claimed they couldn't respond in less than 30 mins - to a building 100m away - because they hadn't been able to afford a tall enough ladder, due to the inflated cost of the building, and thus had to wait till the building burned short enough.

Unfortunately style changes over time, and in the 1970's they built this eyesore.

The tour guides are paid only in tips, but I thought the $20 suggestion was a bit steep, compared to other walking tours I'd been on.


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