Harvard Yard

Harvard Yard
Old Harvard Yard
Harvard Yard with freshman dorms in the background
Harvard Yard is located in Massachusetts
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°22′28.3″N 71°7′1.9″W / 42.374528°N 71.117194°W / 42.374528; -71.117194Coordinates: 42°22′28.3″N 71°7′1.9″W / 42.374528°N 71.117194°W / 42.374528; -71.117194
Built: 1718
Architect: Multiple
Architectural style: Georgian, Other, Federal
Governing body: Private
NRHP Reference#:


Added to NRHP: February 6, 1973

Harvard Yard is a grassy area of about 25 acres (10 ha), adjacent to Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that constitutes the oldest part and the center of the campus of Harvard University. Geographically the yard area is bordered to the west by Massachusetts Avenue and Peabody Street, the north by Cambridge Street, the northeast by Broadway, the east by Quincy Street, and the south by Harvard Street and Massachusetts Avenue. It contains thirteen of Harvard College's seventeen freshman dormitories, as well as four libraries, five buildings of classrooms and academic departments, and the central administrative offices of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the university, located in University Hall and Massachusetts Hall, respectively.

Massachusetts Hall

The western third of Harvard Yard, which opens onto Massachusetts Avenue at Johnston Gate, is known as the Old Yard,[2] and around it cluster most of the freshman dormitories. Among these is Massachusetts Hall, which, having been constructed in 1720, is the oldest still-standing building on Harvard's campus and one of the two oldest academic buildings in the United States. Massachusetts Hall and the Wren Building at the College of William and Mary are both often described as the oldest; the Wren Building was originally built before Massachusetts Hall, but has been destroyed and rebuilt several times.[citation needed] The lower floors of Massachusetts Hall house the offices of the President of Harvard University.

Also located in the Old Yard is a statue of the university's first benefactor, John Harvard. This monument is a frequent target of pranks, hacks, and humorous decorations, such as the colorful lei shown at right, below. Moreover, Harvard students urinate on the very foot that tourists rub for good luck.[3][4][5][6][7] Facing Massachusetts Hall is Harvard Hall. The original Harvard Hall on this site housed the College library, including the books donated by John Harvard, after whom the college and the building were named—all but one of which were destroyed when the building burned in 1764. Rebuilt in 1766, Harvard Hall now houses classrooms.

Across the Old Yard from Johnston Gate stands University Hall, and the now-famous statue of John Harvard by Daniel Chester French. The statue has earned the nickname "the statue of three lies" from its inscription, "John Harvard, Founder, 1638". In truth, the statue is not modeled after John Harvard, he did not found the university, and the founding was in 1636.[8] University Hall was the site of the now-famous sit-in and teach-in protests during the late 1960s, while Massachusetts Hall was the site of the more recent 2001 living-wage campaign sit-in.

The John Harvard Statue

Other buildings

The center of Harvard Yard is a wide grassy area known as Tercentenary Theater, framed by the monumental Widener Library and Memorial Church. The Harvard Bixi, a Chinese stele with inscribed text is located near the Widener Library. Harvard's annual commencement exercises, as well as occasional special convocations, take place in Tercentenary Theater.

The libraries located in Harvard Yard are Widener Library, its connected Pusey Library annex, Houghton Library for rare books and manuscripts, and Lamont Library, the main undergraduate library. Classroom and departmental buildings include Emerson Hall, Sever Hall, Robinson Hall, and Boylston Hall.

The freshman dormitories of Harvard Yard include the upper levels of Massachusetts Hall, and Wigglesworth Hall, Weld Hall, Grays Hall, Matthews Hall, Straus Hall, Mower Hall, Hollis Hall, Stoughton Hall, Lionel Hall, Holworthy Hall, Canaday Hall, and Thayer Hall.

Harvard Yard in 1905.

Nestled among Mower, Hollis, Lionel, and Stoughton Halls is the Holden Chapel, home of the Holden Choirs. Also in this section of the yard stands the Phillips Brooks House, designed by Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow, Jr., and home of the Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA), Harvard University's center for service activities. At the southwest corner of the Yard is Lehman Hall, or Dudley House, the administrative unit for non-resident and off-campus students. Next to Lehman Hall is Wadsworth House, a canary-yellow building that houses the headquarters of the Harvard Alumni Association and the university library system. Finally, Loeb House sits on the east side; it is the site of Harvard's governing bodies, the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. http://nrhp.focus.nps.gov/natreg/docs/All_Data.html. 
  2. ^ "Harvard Yard Historic District - MACRIS Details". Inventory of Historic Assets of the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Historical Commission. 1986-06-23. http://mhc-macris.net/Details.aspx?MhcId=CAM.AD. Retrieved 2011-01-07. "Old Cambridge; Harvard Square" 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "Account Suspended". Harvardindependent.com. http://www.harvardindependent.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleID=7650. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  5. ^ Herz, Daniel E. (2006-12-18). "The Truth About John Harvard | Opinion | The Harvard Crimson". Thecrimson.com. http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=516504. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  6. ^ "Harvard Police log". http://huplogs.stalcommpol.org/20040914.pdf. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  7. ^ "Harvard University". Mech.uwa.edu.au. 1999-12-09. http://www.mech.uwa.edu.au/~kamy/Harvard%20University%20.htm. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  8. ^ Zhang, Dan (Phoebe). "A Guide to Boston for Your Visiting Family and Friends". Biological and Biomedical Sciences program Bulletin, Harvard. http://dmsbulletin.hms.harvard.edu/pdf/MayJune2007.pdf. Retrieved 3 February 2011. 

External links

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