POSTCARD: The New Harvard: Wall Street

NEW YORK, NY—No wonder Harvard likes Wall Street so much when Harvard is so much like Wall Street.

Like Harvard, the surface that meets the sole of your shoe is brick, not concrete. Like Harvard, it would be more comfortable if it were concrete, but, like Harvard, there’s something quaint about it all.

Like Harvard, vehicles are generally forbidden on Wall Street. But just as is the case with pedestrians meandering waywardly throughout Harvard Yard, I can’t understand why someone would even want to drive here.

Like Harvard, Wall Street aims to balance its rich past with its drive towards progress. Like Harvard, historic buildings line the streets—buildings that used to permit only the rich through their doors—some of which, to this day, still arguably allow only that class. Like Harvard, a statue rests at the center of Wall Street to commemorate its heritage. This one, at the first capitol building of the United States, is of George Washington—though, unlike Harvard, this one is actually George Washington.

Like Harvard, there are always tourists here.

Like Harvard, what occupies these buildings is state-of-the-art. Vast networks of computers permeate the lavish New York Stock Exchange. Four monitors per trader is only the face of a complex system that, like Harvard, generally runs smoothly but does experience its occasional hiccup.

Like Harvard, the most quantitatively-oriented are not necessarily at Wall Street. Instead, they are about 10 blocks away at Goldman Sachs. At Harvard, they are about 15 blocks away at MIT.

Like Harvard, there is more than one gym. Like Harvard, there is never place to sit at the nearby Starbucks. Like Harvard, the best pizza place is one that no stranger would know.

Like Harvard, when you step away from its confines, you encounter a wonderful energy. Like Harvard, there are street performers. The other day, a man playing a tenor saxophone was accompanied by one on a drum set, another on bongo drums, and another on two paint buckets.

Like Harvard, everyone is in a hurry. Like Harvard, the people walking in front of you are never walking fast enough. Like Harvard, everyone has in his hand a Blackberry or an iPhone. Like Harvard, the Droid hasn’t really caught on.

Like Harvard, population is a function of time. 7 p.m. on Wall Street is, in Harvard terms, the end of May. And as it is nearing 7 p.m., I must, like in Cambridge last May, clear out, no boxes this time.

Naveen N. Srivatsa ’12, a Crimson news writer and blog executive, is an economics concentrator in Leverett House.