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Three Century Jam Session


An interesting extra-curricular activity in which every Harvard man has been vitally involved is dodge 'em in the Square, twenty-four hours a day. Late classes and missed trains threatening more than free render rides, it seems that scholars still prefer the leap to the look. The boys have been playing this game for over three hundred years and are nearing the end of the overtime; next period is sudden death.

The main trouble with this sport is that there are no rules nor is the field of play well defined. For Harvard Square isn't even a square; it's a hang-over from a colonial meeting joint now passing for a race track. Every would-be traffic reformer must accept the tenet that the place hasn't changed appreciably in design since 1636 and will continue so. Therefore any traffic regulations will have to be content with modifying what stands.

Off in the busiest corner, Brattle and Boylston Streets converge at a weird angle. Opposite, if there is such a place, Mass. Ave. swerves through the northern arm of the Avenue, forming a dangerous and traditional bumping point, while Brattle surges through to the eastern arm to create another awkward rendezvous. The climax to this engineer's nightmare is the subway entrance brooding in the middle. With these non-Euclidean facilities, the Square tries to serve two purposes--a shopping center for students and a transfer station for in-town travellers. Twelve thousand outsiders shift El cars every day. Six hundred busses carry thirty thousand passengers in, out, and through the dilemma. A paltry nine thousand scholars wander and mill about for eight hours a day. Then there's the pleasure traffic, trolleys, trucks and taxis. Thus the problem centers around two cureable factors--the great number of busses and the great space absorbed by the subway kiosk in the middle.

Cambridge and metropolitan engineers have attempted a solution in the past. Thirty-one collisions and a pedestrian's death prompted an investigation in 1938. Plans were drawn for a traffic circle around the subway entrance. But the impossibility of avoiding many cross-movements in traffic, coupled with pressure from adamant taxi men who wanted their parking space, caused the idea to fizzle. Any thought of an over-pass was stifled by the red condition of the treasury. However, one draftsman worked out a very practical solution which still can be realized.

Starting with the worst offender, the plan wipes from the streets the subway entrance. This liberates a hundred and fifty more square feet in which a traffic light would settle the problem of cars. Surrounding gas and water mains prevent the re-location of the entrance, but the present little-used stairways could be easily converted and enlarged. The one by Lehman Hall would be the regular exit, and the entrance would be through the other by Hayes-Bickford. Accompanying this revolution the busses would all be diverted to Eliot Square adjacent to the El repair yards. Here on the remaining piece of city-owned property the new transfer station is set-up. Harvard Square is at last emancipated from six hundred clumsy monsters a day, not to mention the multitude of the twelve thousand.

But no. The City Planning Board doesn't know how bitterly most of Harvard feels towards this mess. We don't bother to enlighten them for we usually can successfully dodge for four years. But the Board has promised serious consideration of this project if the student body assures them it is fed with having its toes run over.

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