Harvard Square: Great place-making, but the creatives are long-gone
Harvard Square is a visual wonder – the streets are alive with students, outdoor seating abounds, the curving streets are picturesque, terminated streets give a feeling of being in grand outdoor rooms, and the buildings are either turn-of-the-century or built with quality brick and stone. As you can see in the plan, many of the streets are short, organic and end with buildings. This goes a long, long way in giving the area a strong sense of identity, as well as security and intimacy. In fact, compared to the other areas we visited, it’s almost a must in creating a strong sense of place.
However, most of who you see on the streets are students or bourgeois, and many of the long-time tenants lamented about how the retail chains were turning the place into a shopping mall. Where were they going? That’ll be covered in the next few blogs.
See that place at the top right corner of the map? That’s Harvard. There’s still some creativity there.
You can’t measure everything by stores. Particularly in the square, which has long been a regional shopping center rather than just a Harvard center.
Even in the sixties, when Harvard Square was one of the three or four hippest places in America, you wouldn’t have liked the stores. There was SS Pierce, a stodgy grocery store that delivered to the rich, and Brine’s a stodgy sporting goods store. Head shops and the like were elsewhere.
So when are we going on our East Village tour?