Legend has it that a gnome lives in the tunnel between the Harvard Square and Central Square T stops. The statue is said to reside near an old abandoned T stop—a ghost station—that can still be seen from the Red Line trains. We found the gnome, and so can you.
Here's a step-by-step guide to finding the mythical gnome: Get on a train going outbound from Central Square. Find a good window seat on the right side of the train. Press your face against the glass so your reflection doesn't block your view (ignore any worries about disease or previous riders' face sweat). As the train slows down to enter Harvard Station, you'll see the spooky remains of the T stop that once served Harvard Square. Prepare yourself for the gnome! At the end of the ghost station, you'll find the gnome statue around eye level. As it flashes by you, you'll notice that it is about 2.5-3 feet tall and looks grayed with dirt and grime. It's difficult to tell what it's made of in the dim light, but an MBTA official gave us some insight into the mysterious statue.
Angela M. Mitchell, an employee of the MBTA for 24 years, says that this urban legend is less mysterious than most would think. "One of our coworkers stuck it out there." Initially placed in the old station as a joke, the gnome has remained virtually unknown to T riders, though it sits just 50 feet from the main platform and has been there for some time. "He's been there for 13 or 14 years," Mitchell said, an inside joke to the MBTA officials and the lucky riders who see the gnome play "peek-a-boo" with those lucky enough to catch the right angle.
Though the mystery has been debunked, a plastic garden gnome remains an eerie thing to pop out from the darkness of the abandoned underground. So next time you ride the T, make sure you look out for the gnome, a practical joke that created a Harvard legend.