Fifty Things to Do While YouÌre Here

Time doesn't stand still in Harvard Square, as the past and present views east (left, in 1956 and today) and west (right, in 1946 and...

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Time doesn't stand still in Harvard Square, as the past and present views east (left, in 1956 and today) and west (right, in 1946 and today) show.
Current photographs by Rose Lincoln
Historical Photographs courtesy of the Harvard University Archives

Upwards of 30,000 people flock to Cambridge in June for Commencement and reunions. The experience can be an exhilarating but exhausting whirlwind, mixing thoughts of new possibilities and memories of the past. To help visitors prepare, we offer a list of select things to do and places to go that may inspire both rookies and veterans of the Harvard community.

1. Stop by your freshman dorm and try to visit your old room.

2. Eat ice cream at Herrell's (the current shop run by the original Steve).

3. Visit the student art on display at the Carpenter Center.

4. Stay up all night, just like the old days before you had a mortgage to pay off.

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"I'd like to get into the equipment room and see Chet Stone. I'll also see Bill Cleary," says Dan Jiggetts, chief marshal of the class of 1976. "This is a wonderful opportunity to see some people who were, and are, special in your life--to reconnect with those people."
5. Get a glimpse of really old Cambridge: take a tour with guides from the Longfellow National Historic Site on Brattle Street.

6. Meet at least five classmates you are sure you haven't ever seen before.

7. Look up one of your old professors.

8. Don't give in to pressure to announce your salary.

9. Dance your heart out at the Cantab Lounge. Yes--Little Joe Cook is still there!

10. Go for a run. Construct an exaggerated account of your College athletic exploits to deliver that night, casually, over drinks.

11. Play chess in front of Au Bon Pain.

12. Try the new Grendel's Den.

13. Play pick-up soccer with your aging buddies behind the Palmer Dixon courts.

14. Get a vivid handle on where your hard-earned tax dollars are going by visiting the Big Dig exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston. Better yet, drive by the project's stunning suspension bridge near North Station.

15. When the kids get bored by grown-up talk of the past, start a Frisbee game on the same field you once played on.

16. Experience a cleaner, safer Charles River.

17. Shed a tear for the Tasty and the Wursthaus. Discover their space has become trendy clothing stores for New England's surfers and dudes.

18. Note that very little has changed at the Brattle Theatre--and take in a double feature.

19. Discover Harvard's illustrious moments in sports at the Lee Family Hall of Athletic History at the Murr Center.

20. Touch the "Tarantula Tourmaline" and view the Hamlin Necklace, on display at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

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The "rah-rah Harvard" boosterism and romanticizing sometimes associated with reunions alienates some alumni, writes Eric Rofes '76. He urges classmates not "into the Pudding or sailing on the Charles, those who don't have kids, those who didn't like their Harvard experience, those who lived off campus, and those who did political organizing work to change Harvard" to come to reunions.
21. Decompress with a live jazz performance at Ryles.

22. Preview the "New Harvard"--visit Allston.

23. Enjoy the Band and Glee Club Concert in Tercentenary Theatre on the night before Commencement.

24. Grab a sub at Pinocchio's.

25. Check out the controversial renovations to the old Harvard Union, now called the Barker Center.

26. Have lunch or dinner in a place you could never have afforded as a student.

27. When introducing partners, marvel at your own and your old flame's ability to suggest a past platonic relationship.

28. Cool off in the Tanner Fountain in front of the Science Center.

29. Rent a bike (the Bicycle Exchange has moved to Porter Square) and ride around Cambridge.

30. View Latin American abstract sculpture at the Fogg Art Museum.

31. Take the T into Boston and appreciate the view as you cross the Charles River.

32. Have tea at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Boston (reservations required).

33. Sink into one of those huge red leather armchairs in the Eliot House library. Take a nap?

34. Meet friends for an old fashioned or a cosmopolitan at the chichi Temple Bar on Mass. Ave.

35. Soak in the vivid colors and images of Mayan culture at the Schlesinger Library's Chiapas photography show.

36. Stop in at Out of Town News to catch the headlines at home.

37. If you miss the Harvard Square Bickford's, try a quick bite at Ma Soba's (owned by brothers Clarence Mah '92, J.D.-M.B.A. '99, and Glenn Mah '94, M.B.A. '98).

38. Stock up on Harvard paraphernalia.

39. Go on a Boston Duck Tour and view Harvard from the Charles.

40. Show your kids your old stomping ground, selectively promoting accounts of all those hours spent laboring over books.

41. Make an effort to talk with a classmate you have always admired from afar.

42. See the Red Sox at Fenway Park before they're--or it's--gone.

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Stuart DeBard '36 has never missed a reunion and never tires of seeing his classmates. For older alumni who return, he says, the most astounding change is the sheer number and diversity of students on campus. "It's wonderful now, more like a world university."
43. Catch up with your old nemesis and call for a truce.

44. Rise early for fresh pastries and hot coffee in the courtyard of the Hi Rise Bread Company (on the site of the old Blacksmith House Bakery). Watch the Square wake up.

45. Try to ignore how much older your friends look.

46. Take a break from the reunion pack and planned activities, at least for a few minutes.

47. Eat on the terrace at Up Stairs at the Pudding before the restaurant moves (reservations required).

48. Note who didn't attend the reunion and find out why.

49. Bring plenty of Kleenex. The flood of emotion may surprise you.

50. Vow to stay in better touch with old friends.

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