Twenty-seven years of Harvard Square history came to an end last Friday when Hurricane Gloria knocked the Harvard Coop's large red neon sign from its resting place atop the Coop and Harvard Trust overhang.
Gloria's 80-90 m.p.h. winds caught the sign's housing and pulled it off of the building, Coop officials said. It crashed to the ground and broke into several pieces.
A crew of Coop workmen quickly carted away the fragments of the sign to the Coop warehouse. They said the sign would be thrown away.
The sign was composed of 14 red plastic and stainless steel letters spelling "The Harvard Coop." The letters were 30 inches high and extended almost 60 feet. The entire sign weighed approximately one ton.
Coop officials said they intend to put up a new sign that looks as identical as possible to the fallen one. They are still awaiting the electrician's estimate of the cost of replacement.
Assistant General Manager Haig Agabavian said he hopes to get a new sign as soon as possible. The sign's fall denotes "the end of an era," he said. "We miss it."
But if a new day is dawning in Harvard Square, other merchants don't notice it. In fact, some didn't even notice the absence of the sign.
Employees at Out of Town News, just across the street from the Coop, said they didn't know the sign had come down. Some even claimed they had never seen any sign atop the home of the 103-year-old institution.
Neither did those at Nini's Corner, except cashier Doug Fay who said "my car was right next to [the sign]. That's the only reason I noticed it."
Ruby MacDonald, a volunteer at the new Cambridge information booth in Harvard Square, said that visitors to the Square don't notice the sign either. Despite the fact that the information booth is less than 50 feet away from the Coop and the sign, MacDonald said "people always ask where the Coop is."