There's more to life than Harvard Square. Here's every place in Cambridge and Boston that you're likely to encounter in your four years here:
Faux-pretentious, overrated upperclassman House located close to the Yard. The adopted dining hall of many Quadlings and Wigglesworthians—those who can get past the armed butlers with megaphones and attack poodles, that is.
“All the theater kids are in Adams.”
The current home of Harvard’s athletic facilities and Business School. Future home of part of Harvard’s engineering school. Also the home of Blanchard’s, king of kegs (and painfully cheap gin). It’s an area (allegedly) infested with rats after Harvard dug a humongous hole and then abandoned it due to budget constraints.
“Is Harvard ever going to finish building the new SEAS complex?”
Annenberg (also ‘Berg,’ ‘the Berg’)
This freshman-only dining hall is Harvard’s version of the Great Hall from “Harry Potter,” sans floating candles. The Berg is your first peek into HUDS’s culinary exploits, and the sight of many a CEB-sponsored party. Go often enough, and you can befriend John, the only good soul in this cold, terrible world. But go there too often, and you’ll run into last night’s hookup in the breakfast line.
“Meet you at C12 in the Berg for dinner tonight, please don't be late and make me look like a sad, stood-up loser.”
Border Café (also “Border’)
A cozy, delicious Tex-Mex eatery tucked behind the COOP on the corner of Church and Palmer. Go here for burritos that don’t taste like greasy fast food but are still pretty easy on the wallet. It’s the best place to pretend that your 11:30 p.m. hunger is actually a classy late meal.
“I’m taking my parents out to dinner but I’m craving a quesadilla and I’m close to broke...so Border it is!”
Where you tell people you go to school. The city you claim made you choose Harvard over Yale. 13 minutes from Harvard on the Red Line, but still a place you will rarely visit in your four years here.
“I go to a small liberal arts college in Boston.”
Quad House featuring large suites and abundant singles. Conveniently located next to an elementary school full of screaming kids at 8 a.m. Home of the Khurana family.
“I saw Rakesh in Cabot’s dhall yesterday. He was giving out ice cream.”
Don't let the name mislead you—this place is neither in Cabot House nor really what you'd call a "library" anymore. Freshly renovated in 2017, Cabot is the ideal hangout for caffeine-dependent science concentrators, with its many study spaces, Clover coffee bar, and plenty of printers for all those Mathematica results you'll definitely forget about until your pre-Math section trip to Annenberg.
“Ugh, they replaced Greenhouse Cafe with Clover in Cabot Library. Where am I going to get my afternoon pizza?”
Grassy knoll separating the Quad from the rest of civilization. Steer clear at night to avoid being mugged and/or stabbed (Seriously). It’s a nice park during the day though! Also the name of a bar on Mass. Ave. popular with Quadlings.
“We’ll get to the Quad faster if we cut through Cambridge Common.”
One T-stop down Mass. Ave. The commercialized, wannabe cousin of Harvard Square.
“They just put a City Target in Central Square.”
Where tourists (and susceptible freshmen) go to buy overpriced Harvard sweatshirts and key chains. Where you will stand in line for hours at the beginning of each semester to buy overpriced textbooks. Where you will never go once you realize eBay and Amazon are a hell of a lot cheaper. Rhymes with “loop,” not “blow-pop.”
“I just waited in line at the Coop and they don’t even have my textbook. I’m pissed.”
Mispronunciation of the Coop (see Coop). Harvard's alternative accommodations for those who find the housing system “restrictive,” complete with naked cooking and rampant tobacco use. Just kidding. Or are we?
“Did you hear about Betsy? She joined to Co-op after ditching Cabot House, said it was a more interesting residential experience.”
Cornell is an Ivy League school in Ithaca, NY, and the butt of many not-actually-an-Ivy jokes. They seriously ripped off Harvard when they decided to refer to their sports teams as ‘Cornell Big Red.’ Only relevant about four times a year.
“In my country, no one’s heard of Cornell.”
House in the Quad whose dining hall resembles that of a nursing home. Still, it’s a house with plenty of party spaces and plenty of parties to fill them. Home to the much-coveted Ten-Man suite.
“Are you going to Heaven and Hell? It’s in Currier.”
Conveniently located overflow housing for students in various River Houses. Comes complete with a TV, dishwasher, refrigerator, bathtub, and bay windows. This year, some extremely lucky freshman will live there.
“Wanna hang out in my dorm in DeWolfe? It has air-conditioning.”
The “House” affiliation for the small percentage of students who live off-campus.
“Where is Dudley House?” “Everywhere.”
Formerly known as “Dumpster House,” a nickname it’s shed since a swanky renovation made its dining hall very Annenberg-esque. The building featured on every postcard that you will send home.
“All the athletes eat in Dunster, I hear.”
Where Unabomber Theodore J. Kaczynski ’62 spent his formative years. Home of Fête, the best formal at Harvard. Its clock tower has probably had a better movie career than Matt Damon. Historically known for its preppy population, now famous for its ridiculous social budget.
“Can you sneak me into Eliot’s formal? I hear it’s amazing.”
A well-known Mexican eatery located on Mt. Auburn Street, known for its burritos and quesadillas. Slightly cheaper than Felipe’s, it’s the perfect 3 a.m. drunk safe space.
“Hey, want to go to El Jefe’s?”“Sure, let me just finish this last tequila shot”
Home field of the Boston Red Sox, perennial rivals of the New York Yankees. Go now—and leave your Yankees cap at home.
“What are they singing at Fenway Park?” “Sweet Caroline. Duh.”
Harvard Square’s most popular late-night answer to Mexican cuisine cravings. You’ll always order their burritos when you should be ordering their tacos and nachos. Occasionally the location of the Undergraduate Council’s Club 1636.
Small house that hosts the annual Incest Fest (ask around). Former home of Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg. Frequently confused with Eliot House by freshmen.
“Dude, Zuckerberg stopped by his old room in Kirkland House during Commencement.”
The best ice cream in Harvard Square. Claims it has the best hot chocolate too, but that’s debatable. If it’s warm outside, the line will be super long. Also serves coffee to undergraduates for a little under $2, any size.
The Hong Kong restaurant on Mass. Ave. Heaven for those who love bar fights and MSG. The source of that pain in your stomach the morning after the night you can’t remember
“I only eat Kong when I’m drunk.”
Hemenway (“The Hem”)
One of Harvard’s gyms located on the Law School campus. A veritable testosterone fest. Muscle tanks strongly encouraged on the lifting floor.
“About to go pump some iron at the Hem. Anyone want to ball after?”
The most social place to study, Lamont offers comfy chairs and textbooks 24/5 on reserve for all those readings you missed; too bad no studying will ever occur here. Home of the Lamont Cafe, which is almost like a student center, but not really.
Home to the famous 80s dance. The only house where students have to cross the street to get to their own dining hall. The mascot is a bunny, and yes, their yard is infested with live ones.
“I hear the Leverett House Faculty Deans are serving Monkey Bread today.”
Boston neighborhood home to Harvard Medical School and the Museum of Fine Arts. Where swine flu infiltrated Harvard; the Dental School will never be the same. A half-hour’s ride away on the free M2 bus. What you will curse when you realize the one book you really need is at Countway Library.
“Longwood!? Seriously? Damn it, Harvard.”
Lacking in views and space, Lowell House residents pay a severe price for that quaint “Harvard” look. They have some important bells, or something. Or had. It’s being renovated now, so its residents are in swing. Serves a ‘banging tea every Thursday.
“I live for Lowell Tea.”
Yard building home to the offices of the University President and other central administration bureaucrats, and a few unlucky freshmen. Prepare yourself for quiet evenings alone.
“We hear Divest blockaded Mass. Hall.”
The riot-proof monstrosity designed by a prison architect, housing a delusionally-spirited student population. They wear head-bands. Dorms are almost completely singles, hence the sex puns you'll see on housing day. We're pretty sure unappealing architecture is a turn-off for most, though.
“I hear they have a lot of sex.”
A nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to walk there. Home to the Bell Tower and other good party spots that you will drunkenly make your way to and from during freshman year.
“I hear there’s a cool party in the Bell Tower tonight.” “Ew, freshmen.”
The Queen’s Head:
Short for The Cambridge Queen’s Head Pub, the surprisingly not-awful drinking hole under Annenberg complete with three-dollar draughts, tasty snacks, and a lot of old Harvardian stuff on the wall that no one, at least of all the staff, really understands.
Nicknamed “The People’s House” because of its (formerly) open access dining hall. Convenient location, loud parties, hideous architecture. Great late-night grille. Home of the pimpest Masters’ Residence ever and an annual game of assassins.
“Someone’s playing Assassins in the Quincy courtyard. They’re naked."
Formerly Harvard’s sister, women’s , it now claims just a few women’s sports teams—referred to as the “Black and White,” not the “Crimson”—and an “Institute for Advanced Study” to its name.
“Radcliffe’s yard is so much nicer than the rest of the campus.”
Short for Sanders Theatre, the large space tucked behind Annenberg. Where you will occasionally attend Ec 10 lectures, speeches, and concerts. And nap. Where a capella groups subject you to three-hour-plus concerts. Anyone, anyone?
“I’m heading over to see the Pitches perform in Sanders. Wanna come?” “Nah, I’m still scarred from Ec10 freshman year. Avoiding that place like the plague.”
The community college of Palo Alto that vaguely looks like a pseudo-Mexican restaurant located in the middle of a big dusty farm. Stanford is known for it's deader than Blockbuster social life, cheating students and tiny endowment.
“Screw Stanford, Pick Harvard”
Overpriced pastry place that replaced our beloved Panera Bread. You will grumble about the prices. You will still eat there. The line will be out the door.
University Health Services. Not a good place to go when you’re healthy, some say. Not a good place to go when you’re sick, others say. Will most definitely ask you if you’re pregnant. Or drunk. Or both. Especially if you’re a guy.
“I told UHS I was bleeding internally and they gave me allergy medicine.” “How’d you know you were bleeding internally? “I’m a pre-med.”
Classroom building home to most Japanese, Chinese, and Korean classes, and some Ec 10 sections, if you’re unlucky. Farther than the Quad.
“Gah, I have section in Vanserg.”
Titanic library built in memory of a Titanic drowning victim. Home to the stacks, where students go to pore over books. Yup, nothing but readin’ in these stacks.
“You want to go study in Widener?” “I’m not that desperate.”
Inhabited by generations of Kennedys. A breach in the space-time continuum where bedrooms can actually be smaller than Harvard-issued beds. Or at least it used to be. Winthrop got new digs last year, so we’ll see what people have to say about it.
School spirit? Check! Deep-seated inferiority complex? Check! A safety school for Harvard rejects located in a dodgy urban area of Connecticut. This unaccredited university is known for stealing from Harvard (CS50, their motto “Lux et Veritas,” and mumps), producing the second worst U.S. president, and accepting students with exhibionist tendencies.
“Bart: Do you know what it's like to be second-best at anything?” “Lisa: Yeah, I do! I'm going to Yale!”
Enjoyed this? Check back over the next week as we declassify Harvard's odd lingo. Next up: the people you need to know at Harvard.
Did we miss something? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll update this list!