Preserve Plympton to Preserve the Past

To the editors:

I agree with your opposition to renaming Plympton Street in honor of David Halberstam ‘55 (“A Road by Any Other Name,” editorial, April 16), despite the fact that David and I were close personal friends in Dunster House and on The Crimson, and that he was a magnificent reporter whose memory deserves to be honored.

The streets around the College received their names long before Harvard Square became an international destination, back when the Yard was on the outskirts of the city and the College itself was little more than a training ground for the clergy. Through all its growth and change, the University has tried to keep some of its colonial heritage intact, in line with its pride in being America’s first college, “first flower of the wilderness”. Street names such as Dunster, Holyoke, Trowbridge, Brattle, and Plympton play as much a role in this effort as the cobblestones on the sidewalks, the names and simplicity of the buildings in the Yard, and the architecture of the Houses on the river. As the Crimson noted in a recent article, Harvard has been more successful than other large universities in preserving a common theme in its built environment. At a time when “naming opportunities” are regularly given to wealthy donors and cities change the names of their sports arenas almost every year to afford publicity to the highest bidder, it is comforting to know that students and alumni can still have common reference points in comparing the recollections of the past with student life today.

Bethesda, Md.
April 17, 2008

The writer was a former editorial chair, and he is a current member of The Harvard Crimson’s graduate council.