Harvard University in its relations to the city of Cambridge.
The President and Fellows of Harvard College own at present (April, 1896) 82 364/1000 acres of land within the limits of the city of Cambridge
, the total present area of the city, according to Paige
, the historian of Cambridge
, being about four and one-half square miles (2880 acres). The land now held by the President
and Fellows has been acquired as a result of 107 separate negotiations, extending from 1638 to the present day. The following table shows the nature of these transactions; but in this table no account is made of transactions which did not relate to land now in possession of the university—
|7||separate re-purchases of land previously sold by the University.|
|8||separate devises and gifts.|
|1||gift or purchase (Bradish lot on Holyoke Street,—mode of acquisition uncertain).|
|4||separate sales of land, the whole or part of which was afterward bought back.|
|7||or more contributions, or takings by the town or city, for laying out or widening streets.|
|1||taking by the city for park purposes.|
Of this area of 82 364/1000 acres, the town gave 3 1 9/24 acres. The rest of the area is the result of purchases, devises, and other gifts, offset in some measure by sales, contributions from college land to streets, and takings by the town or city.
The College Yard
—as the inclosure between Massachusetts Avenue and Broadway, Peabody Street and Quincy Street is called—was acquired in twelve parcels in the course of two
centuries, that is, between 1638 and 1835.
The delta on which Memorial Hall stands was bought in two parcels between 1786 and 1816, one of these parcels having been procured in one of the College Yard
After these purchases were made, Cambridge Street and Broadway were laid out through them.
The land north of Cambridge Street and south of Everett Street was bought in thirteen parcels between 1816 and 1839.
Before many years had elapsed, considerable portions of this land were sold; and there have been seven re-purchases of parts of the parcels thus sold.
In this region the President
and Fellows once owned more than twice the area which they now own; but the sales made by the college were nevertheless judicious; for land within this region has been repeatedly bought back at prices less than those for which it was sold by the college with compound interest at five per cent. computed thereon.
Of the land procured for the Botanic Garden
in 1818, nearly all still remains in the possession of the college, the missing area having been taken for widening streets.
Across Garden Street from the Botanic Garden
more than 600,000 feet of land were bought between 1841 and 1886 for the purposes of the Observatory; but nearly one half of that area was subsequently sold.
The land on which College House now stands was acquired in six parcels between 1772 and 1806, one parcel having been devised by Judge Lee
, and the others having been bought.
The acquisition of land by the President
and Fellows has been going on gradually all through the existence of the institution, but with different degrees of activity.
The first lands acquired were the western part of the College Yard
and the lots near Holyoke and Dunster streets. The enlargement of the College Yard
to the eastward was the next object; and then came the extensions to the north, namely, the Memorial Hall
delta, the Old Gymnasium delta, and the purchases north of Kirkland Street. The Observatory lands were acquired later still, while Holmes Field and Jarvis Field were not purchased till after the Civil War
. The university now owns land enough in Cambridge
to make it certain that the setting of the university buildings will be an open one for many generations to come; or, in other words, it will not be necessary that the university buildings should stand close upon the streets as houses stand in the densely built quarters of a city.
They will continue to be surrounded by grass and trees, even though the
number of students in Cambridge
should be multiplied by three, four, or five in the centuries to come.
This determination of the character of the university grounds is important to the city; for the city has much to gain from the continued openness of the university grounds.
The denser the population of Cambridge
becomes, the more valuable to it will be the open spaces round the university buildings, particularly as it is beyond doubt that these open areas will as time goes on be kept in a more and more decorative condition.
Great improvement in this respect has been made during the last twenty-five years. In 1869 there was a shabby board fence along the southern side of the College Yard
almost all the way from Quincy Street to Wadsworth House; and up to that time it had not been the custom to keep the College Yard
in a neat and pleasing condition.
There was a time when reservations for schools and colleges, churches and hospitals, were regarded with disfavor by some of the residents of Massachusetts
towns and cities.
They were held to be withdrawn from ordinary uses for residence or business, and therefore to be a burden on the city or town; but the recent almost unanimous movement of the population of eastern Massachusetts
in favor of large reservations for park purposes and for boulevards, and the almost universal regret that our public schoolhouses are not surrounded by suitable play-grounds, have opened the public mind to the perception of the general fact that a dense population absolutely needs numerous reservations in order to secure for itself a reasonably healthy and pleasurable existence.
It needs open spaces for grass, trees, and flowers; and for purposes of enjoyment it should live in daily sight of interesting and uplifting institutions, suitably equipped with buildings and grounds.
The proved commercial advantages of wide avenues have also taught the people that large areas can profitably be reserved from the ordinary uses of residence or business.
Severe experience has taught the urban populations of Massachusetts
that it is of little use to erect fine buildings, unless they can be placed on fine sites.
If a city hall of noble aspect is built on a narrow street, from which no one can survey its just proportions and elegant decoration, if a court-house is erected in a kind of pocket, so small that its facade cannot be seen as a whole from any single point except one too close for a general
view, the money expended on these structures, so far as the enjoyment of the passer-by goes, is in large degree wasted.
They may be convenient for the uses of the people who repair to their interiors; but they cannot afford to the citizens of the place the satisfaction which comes from the unobstructed contemplation of noble buildings.
is old enough to have escaped the tiresome and wasteful laying-out in squares which deprives most American cities of fine sites for large buildings.
It has many curving roads and irregular corner pieces, on which handsome buildings can be suitably disposed and displayed; but as time goes on, it will have great reason to be thankful for the continuing openness of the eighty-two acres which belong to Harvard University.
The population of Cambridge
is considerably enlarged by the presence of the university.
About three thousand students, out of the thirty-six hundred now in the university, live in Cambridge
In the long vacation nearly six hundred other students come for the numerous summer courses.
More than one hundred of the teachers and other officers of the university occupy houses in Cambridge
and maintain households therein.
There are from one hundred and seventy-five to two hundred unmarried officers who live in or near the university.
On the Catalogue of the year 1895-96, two hundred and fifty students give Cambridge
as their home address.
Every year a considerable number of families move to Cambridge
in order to educate their children at the university.
Many families that originally came to Cambridge
, either to educate their children, or because the bread-winner became a university teacher, have remained in Cambridge
Some of the most famous houses in Cambridge
to-day are houses built for or occupied by professors of a former generation.
It is enough to mention the Norton
, Palfrey, Agassiz, Longfellow, and Lowell houses.
Some of the largest taxable properties in the city are to-day taxed here, because the university either brought to Cambridge
, or kept in Cambridge
, the creators or inheritors of these properties.
Because of the presence of the university, Old Cambridge has always been the best residence quarter of the city, and it is likely to remain so.
Within the last twenty years the university has begun to maintain collections of great interest and value, which are open to the public under suitable regulation.
The Botanic Garden, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the botanical and mineralogical
collections, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, the Semitic Museum
, and the Fogg Museum of Art, are all objects of interest to the Cambridge
On Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons these collections are visited by large numbers of people, particularly from the 1st of April to the 1st of December.
As the university becomes richer, this function towards the public will be more and more important.
From the 1st of October to the 1st of May, the university provides a very large number of evening lectures which are open to the public.
These lectures cover a wide range of subjects, and are generally given by eminent experts.
They relate to history, political science, the fine arts, philosophy, and literature, and afford to the Cambridge
public many opportunities of seeing and hearing distinguished men, and of getting from the lecturers varied information and judicious incitement to good reading.
It is Mr. Henry L. Higginson
's desire to serve the officers and students of the university which has caused an annual series of concerts to be given by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
in Sanders Theatre,—that admirable room for music.
The University Chapel
has become of late years a new centre of interest for residents of Cambridge
Throughout the year Sunday evening services are conducted there by eminent men of many different denominations—from Jew to Catholic—and from November to April short services are also held every Thursday afternoon. The chapel music has been made interesting, and helpful devotionally.
The undenominational policy of the university makes its chapel a unique institution as a place both of worship and of moral and religious instruction.
All sorts of Cambridge
people resort to it, some occasionally and some habitually.
The public schools of Cambridge
are the better for the presence of the university.
A long line of presidents and professors have taken strong interest in the Cambridge schools
, and have contributed to their progress and wise management.
High School has been for many years an exceptionally good one; and since the division was made between the High school and the Latin school the same excellent quality has distinguished the Cambridge
In these schools hundreds of Cambridge
children have been prepared for entrance to the university.
Any citizen of Cambridge
, who can
afford to maintain his children until they are ready to practice a profession, can be sure of their receiving the best liberal and professional education given in this country, while all the time his children may live economically at home.
The establishment in Cambridge
of the business of printing and binding books is historically due to the university.
The first printing press
in the colony belonged to Harvard College; and ever since that first press was set up the business of printing has been successfully pursued here.
With the development of the national territory and the national wealth the manufacture of books has been established at many other centres; but at this moment three of the most important book presses in the country—presses in which the very best work is done—are situated in Cambridge
The business of lodging and boarding students is a considerable one in that part of the city called Old Cambridge.
The university buildings do not provide chambers for even half the students; and Memorial Hall and the Foxcroft Club
together cannot furnish board to more than half of the members of the Cambridge
departments of the university who have no homes in Cambridge
For lodging the richer class of students large and handsome private dormitories have of late years been erected, buildings which add considerably to the valuation of the city for purposes of taxation.
These buildings become more and more substantial and elegant; and it seems probable that they will be a more and more important element in the taxable property of the city.
The first of these buildings was erected forty years ago by Mr. Charles C. Little, senior
member of the well-known bookselling firm of Little & Brown
His example was not followed for several years; but recently at least one new private dormitory has been erected every year, and the process is still going on. Hundreds of purveyors, mechanics, porters, cooks, waiters, chambermaids, laundresses, and laborers get their livelihood from the university and its students.
It is not, however, the business interests of Cambridge
which the university has done most to promote, large as have been its contributions direct and indirect to those interests.
The whole character of the place as a residence has been strongly affected by the presence here for two centuries and a half of the university teachers, a group of men devoted, not to trade or manufactures, or money-making of any sort, but to the arts and sciences,
to authorship and teaching, and in general to the intellectual and spiritual elements in the life of each succeeding generation.
is an interesting place to live in, because the poetry of Holmes
, and Lowell
has touched with the light of genius some of its streets, houses, churches, and graveyards, and made familiar to the imagination of thousands of persons who never saw them its river, marshes, and bridges.
It adds to the interest of living in any place that famous authors have walked in its streets, and loved its highways and byways, and written of its elms, willows, and chestnuts, its robins and herons.
The very names of Cambridge
streets remind the dwellers in it of the biographies of Sparks
, the sermons of Walker
, the law-books of Story, the orations of Everett
, and the presidencies of Dunster
, and Quincy
is associated in the minds of thousands of Americans
with scientific achievements of lasting worth.
Here lived Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse
, the first Hersey
professor of physic, who introduced the kine-pox into America
, and John Winthrop
professor of natural philosophy from 1738 to 1779, one of the very earliest students of the phenomena of earthquakes, the friend and correspondent of Benjamin Franklin
, and the man whose lectures Benjamin Thompson
) walked from Woburn
For two generations Asa Gray
has turned the thoughts of innumerable students of botany, young and old, to Cambridge
as the place where their guide into botanical science lived and wrote.
For two hundred and sixty years the lamp of philosophy has been kept burning in this quiet town, and that illumination makes it a brighter place to live in for the present and the coming generations.
Amid the universal struggles to get a livelihood, to make money, and to keep money, here is a place where hundreds of men live quite apart from that common quest.
Here live hundreds of men who, having secured a modest but sure livelihood for themselves and their families, work in the main without thought of money, with their minds bent on intellectual pursuits, and kindled by enthusiasms which have nothing material as their end. What a cheerful presence in the city is the ever-rising tide of healthy, manly youth, full of hope, ambition, and high-minded purpose, making ready for worthy service in the outer world, but not yet burdened by its cares and griefs!
On one of the highest knolls of Cambridge
stands the Astronomical
Observatory, a conspicuous and accurate type, in spirit and nature, of several other departments of the university.
It is constantly at work trying to learn more truth about the heavenly bodies,—confident that the truth will somehow and somewhere prove serviceable,—but taking no account of immediate utilities.
From the top of the Observatory one overlooks the homes and working-places of as comfortable and happy a population as the world contains, and can almost hear the hum of their industries, and feel the throb of their multitudinous joys and sorrows; yet with the daily cares and labors of that population the Observatory has nothing to do. It lives a life apart, devoted to observation and study of sun, moon, and planets, of comets and meteors, and of the stars, conscious indeed that navigation and time-keeping depend on these studies, but keeping in immediate view only the instant search for new truth.
It is natural that Cambridge
should be an object of great interest to visitors from other parts of the country, and it is pleasant to live in a place which has such attractions.
Few educated people from the West
and the South
come to New England
without visiting this city,—so full of historical, literary, and scientific associations.
The summer visitors to Boston
regularly make pilgrimages to the College Yard
, Memorial Hall, the Museum, the old graveyard between the two churches, the Washington Elm
, Brattle Street, and Elmwood Avenue. Many graduates of the university, whose lives are spent in places remote from Cambridge
, return thither from time to time to refresh their recollections and to watch the progress of improvements.
As a rule these men return with feelings of affection and gratitude.
These sentiments, felt by thousands of men, ennoble the city and make it a worthier dwelling-place.