Facts About Harvard Square
Harvard Square has a rich legacy and cultural influence of its own. Here are some interesting facts about Harvard Square that you should know more about:
- Historian Charles Sullivan has stated that the current Harvard Square area was established in 1630.
- It was originally called the Newtowne Puritan village which eventually turned into Cambridge in 1638.
- Several original thoroughfares still remain, including areas of Story, Church, Arrow, Eliot and Mount Auburn Streets. Several early 18th-century wood-framed homes still remain along Dunster, Winthrop and South Streets.
- Harvard Square is today a bustling commercial hub and major attraction for tourists and residents of Cambridge.
- The sunken area adjacent to the MBTA subway entrance or the pit is a prime location for performances, activists, skateboarding and more.
- Mass Avenue has games of chess being played by connoisseurs throughout the day.
- Harvard Square houses America’s oldest university.
- It was here that George Washington assumed command of his Continental Army.
- 371 years earlier, the very first printing press in the hemisphere was taken across the Atlantic with Stephen Daye, the first printer in America.
Cost of Living in Harvard Square
Median prices of single-family homes stand at roughly $1.59 million in Harvard Square while this is roughly $747,000 for condominium units. Average rentals hover at around $1,396 in the neighborhood.
You can expect to pay roughly $170 every month for utilities along with close to $350 in food bills. Restaurant meals may cost anywhere between $15-$40 per individual.
Tips to Visit Harvard Square
Here are some tips that will benefit visitors to Harvard Square:
- You will be walking around quite a bit and hence have seasonal and appropriate footwear which will come in really handy.
- You will not want to use a car which will turn into a burden. Avoid exorbitant charges for parking space and hassles of obtaining permits.
- Get hold of the T Pass for 7 days or even the CharlieCard which has discounts on subway rides and bus transfers.
- You should ideally visit during the fall for experiencing Harvard Square in all its glory.
Things to Do in Harvard Square
Harvard Square offers a mélange of attractive and fun things to do as far as visitors are concerned.
1. What are the most popular things to do in Harvard Square?
Some of the most popular activities in Harvard Square include visits to the Brattle Theater, Harvard Book Store and Alden & Harlow which is another major landmark. You should also check out the Shays Pub & Wine Bar along with the acclaimed Club Passim and Charlie’s Kitchen alike. The Harvard Film Archive is also worth exploring.
2. What are some free things to do near Harvard Square?
Some free activities in Harvard Square include checking out the Harvard Art Museum, Harvard Museum of Natural History and Central Square. You should also visit the MIT Museum along with the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East.
3. What are the most family-friendly things to do near Harvard Square?
Family-friendly activities near Harvard Square include visiting the renowned Curious George Store with your children. You can also visit Club Passim for the family events and shows on offer. The new café is also worth checking out. Go on a trip to the Longfellow House and its grounds where there are free tours offered. The gardens are lovely and make for a pleasant sight by all means.
Places to Visit in Harvard Square
Here are the best places to visit in Harvard Square:
- Harvard Book Store – The Harvard Book Store is an acclaimed independent bookseller that you must visit. This iconic bookstore comes with helpful staff manning the vast collection. Students from the University frequent this bookstore while the basement is where you can find fascinating used books at fabulous bargains and discounts!
- Brattle Theater – The Brattle Theater came up in the 19th century, bang in the middle of what we know as Harvard Square. It resembles a classic barn and is a nonprofit that has survived several disruptions over the years. You will love the rare movies playing here, particularly if you have an eclectic bent of mind.
- Alden & Harlow – This is a neatly tucked-away previous site of the Casablanca institution. You will find a multi-room drinking and dining hub with a charmingly rustic ambiance. The industrial themes also find favor with diners here. This is a must-visit if you are in Harvard Square. Michael Scelfo, the Chef cum Owner, helms the place masterfully.
- Shays Pub & Wine Bar – Another famous Harvard Square institution and a major tourist landmark today in its own right, Shays is a must-visit. It is run and owned by expats from England. It lies sunken a little below the surrounding sidewalk with a delightful outdoor patio. The bar draws several regulars including artists and hardcore academics alike. The beer and wine menu is vast to say the least.
- Club Passim – Another must-see for visitors to Harvard Square, this venue once had the distinction of patronizing 1960s folk. It regularly witnessed star performers such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez among numerous others. The club still has its community vibe and relaxing feeling. There are numerous performances that you can enjoy here.
- Charlie’s Kitchen – Charlie’s Kitchen is known for its famous double cheeseburgers which locals sear by! The young and vibrant crowd is something! You will love the vast selection of beer, the vibrant jukebox and of course, the seasonal beer garden outdoors.
- Harvard Film Archive – The Harvard Film Archive houses the biggest collection of New England 35 mm movies. It has its own screening space alongside. There is a vast and diverse movie catalog housed here and the selections are heady stuff! Several events and retrospectives also take place on a recurring basis.
- The Sinclair – The Sinclair is a classier joint in comparison to the Middle East complex in Central Square as claimed by patrons. It draws several leading performers, indie acts and stars alike. It has an in-house restaurant in the front while music fans and couples will love the scintillating shows played here.
- Clover Food Lab Harvard Square – Looking for a unique place to visit? Try the Clover Food Lab which is sheer paradise for vegetarians. It offers several delights including the chickpea fritter along with hummus, Tahini, falafel which is golden fried and red pickled cabbage that stuffs wonderfully into a round bun. Accompanying beverages include hibiscus iced tea along with brown-sugar lemonade.
- Grolier Poetry Book Shop – Nestled along the sidewalk near Harvard Book Store, Grolier has become a go-to institution over the years. It has been around for more than eight decades. There are tons of poetry volumes here including anthologies, rare collections, books by little-known poets and even translations. There are several contests, events and readings held here too. The Grolier Poetry Book Shop harnesses that quintessential Harvard feeling for sure.
Places to Eat In Harvard Square
Harvard Square is packed with several delightful places to eat. From the best contemporary cuisine to eclectic delights, you will find a lot of options on the menu, quite literally! Some of the top choices include the following:
- Alden & Harlow
- Parsnip Restaurant
- Border Cafe
- Felipe's Taqueria
- The Hourly Oyster House
- The Longfellow Bar
- Russell House Tavern
- Beat Brew Hall
- Orinoco Harvard Square
- The Red House Restaurant
- Pinocchio's Pizza & Subs
- El Jefe's Taqueria - Harvard Square
Street Food in Harvard Square
Harvard Square has an abundance of street food options worth considering. The street food culture of the area is vibrant and packed with delicious flavors. Some of the top picks include the following:
- Chutney's Cambridge
- Spicies | Thai Street Food & Noodles
- Beat Brew Hall
- Tasty Burger
- Shake Shack
- Grafton Street Pub & Grill
- Oggi Gourmet
Shopping in Harvard Square
Harvard Square is paradise for shoppers with several leading brands rubbing shoulders with independent stores and vast collections from local names. Here are some of the top choices for shopping here:
- The Garage
- The Abbot
- The Atrium
- Mint Julep
- The Andover Shop
- The Harvard Shop
- Harvard Coop
- Goorin Bros. Hat Shop - Harvard Square
Transportation in Harvard Square
Harvard Square has its own MBTA Red Line stop for better connectivity. The Red Line goes to Boston’s Park Street Station (inbound) while the stop for Harvard University is at Harvard Square itself. It lies between the Park Street Station and the Alewife Station.
You can also access the Blue, Green and Orange lines of the MBTA subway network. The Silver Line bus service connects to all the subway lines including the Red Line. You can also access nearby bus routes including 1, 72, 77 and 66 among many others.
Weather in Harvard Square
The best time to visit Harvard Square is during the fall. Summer is the peak season for tourists although fall is more comfortable. September sees the weather getting better and drier. October has lovely foliage while spring may see fluctuating weather. You should consider visiting sometime in the fall if you wish to enjoy outdoor events and tourist landmarks in Harvard Square.