Recently, the Cambridge Historical Commission announced it would be recommending that the Harvard Square Kiosk, currently home to Out of Town News, be designated as an official historic landmark. This would grant it protection as the City of Cambridge plans to implement a multi-million dollar renovation of the Square plaza. Currently, the renovations include a complete overhaul of the kiosk that would include a glass and LED exterior, a drastic change from the red brick and metal that currently characterize it. We strongly support the Commission’s recommendations, as we hope it will remind not only Cantabrigians, but Harvard students as well, of the kiosk’s history.
The kiosk, which has been standing since 1928 and was once the former entrance to the T, is not considerably old in comparison to other Harvard buildings. However, designating the kiosk as a historical landmark would go a long way towards fostering a greater sense of history and appreciation in Harvard Square, and that is something all Square denizens would benefit from.
We appreciate the upswell of support for protecting the kiosk from across the community. Five Harvard professors have endorsed the designation as well as the Harvard Square Neighborhood Association. In response, the City of Cambridge has created the Harvard Square Kiosk and Plaza Working Group.
The sheer number of committees and groups comprised of volunteers and Cambridge residents makes this issue a prime example of the responsiveness of local politics. This should remind students that we temporarily share Cambridge for four years with many local communities and residents; it is important that we be in touch with a variety of local political issues, especially if we choose to vote here or become politically engaged. The interests of Harvard and its students are very narrow, and all of us in the University community must be informed and aware of the many issues facing Cambridge.
While the historical designation might save the kiosk from a potentially existential threat, the character of Harvard Square faces many more. As we have repeatedly opined in the past, Harvard Square is becoming increasingly inaccessible to Harvard students. There is no end to the amount of high-end clothing and goods stores that have popped up around campus, many with hardly any students inside. “Bougie” restaurants, cafés, and eateries all command high prices, pander to students’ poor money-spending habits, and bar many others from being able to join their peers for an off-campus meal. It is a pressing issue that the City, the Harvard community, and especially the businesses that occupy Harvard Square must consider.
We hope Harvard Square becomes a more welcoming place in future. The City Council will likely vote on the kiosk’s designation later this week, and we urge them to accept the Historical Commission’s recommendation. Let’s add another piece of history to Harvard Square.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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A Balancing ActNeedless to say, the Council, as well as those involved in further discussions, should be mindful of the attitudes that the people who live and work in the Square have towards its cultural and historical significance.
Gatekeepers of the Square