Boston, like any big city, is made up of neighborhoods, and Harvard Square (pronounced
Hahvahd Squayah) is a fun neighborhood to explore.
Be forewarned: Boston is undergoing a major construction project called "The Big Dig". (You can get details of this project at their website: bigdig.) It entails taking the Central Artery and moving it underground. Traffic tie ups are legendary, and rerouting of streets is common. This project is not expected to be finished until 2004. Unless you are a true glutton for punishment, DO NOT DRIVE in Boston if you can avoid it.
That said, you can get just about anywhere you want to go by public transit, known as the T. The T is cheap, safe, and convenient. Harvard Square has its own T stop on the Red Line.
Guess what? When you come out of the Harvard Square T stop, you are right by Harvard. (Pretty clever, eh?) You can take a walk through Harvard Yard, which is pleasant, and see the engraved stone detailing how 400 English pounds were given to start this new college. (200 pounds down, 200 pounds upon completion.) It is beautiful and surprisingly small.
As you might expect, this locale is ripe with bookstores. The Harvard Coop, which is actually a cooperative association, carries general reading as well as textbooks. They also have a large section of Harvard memorabilia.
Another bookstore which I am going to add to my list of favorites is Wordsworth. This bookstore boasts that every book is discounted every day. The selection here is spread over several floors, and runs the gamut from the most run of the mill paperbacks to some pretty esoteric stuff. And, yup, everything I looked at was discounted about 20%.
Like any other college town, Harvard Square has its share of little restaurants and pubs. One I particularly like is called Finagle-A-Bagel. This is a local chain, and is a great deal for lunch or a
The Finagle-A-Bagel in Harvard Square is located at 14 JFK Street, and the cafe is downstairs. I had a "Blue Chicken" which is a flatbread made from bagel dough, topped with four cheeses, spicy chicken, and blue cheese dressing, and run under a broiler until melted. It cost $4.59, and it was outstanding. Pair this with a beer, they have several on tap, or a soft drink, and you have a reasonably priced meal. This location also has internet connections. I did not use them, so I can't tell you how fast they are, or the cost.
Right across from Finagle-A-Bagel are the law offices of Dewey, Cheetham, and Howe. (If this doesn't ring a bell, see my note below.) The sign is on the second floor, at the pointed end of the building, so look up.
The pharmacy of Billings and Stover is just down the street. This has been a pharmacy since 1854, and is still in operation. It reminds me of drugstores back when I was a kid, before chain drugstores started selling laundry detergent and milk.
All in all, this is a nice place to spend a few hours, more if you are a die hard Harvard fan.
Note about Dewey, Cheetham, and Howe
If you are a fan of National Public Radio, you have probably stumbled across a show called "Car Talk". "Car Talk" is hosted by Tom and Ray Magliozzi, two brothers who actually run a service garage in Cambridge. They also both graduated from MIT, so we ain't talking your average grease monkey here. This is hands down the single funniest show on the air today, whether on TV or radio. And, by the way, they dispense pretty good advice about cars in the process. If you want to get a taste of their show, you can go to CarTalk and listen to their weekly radio show,
among other things. Anyhow, in their sign off each week, Tom and Ray always refer to their lawyers Dewey, Cheetham, and Howe. (Go ahead, say it out loud.)