I am that friend. I have walked to my classes in flash flood thunderstorms, blizzards, and sweltering heat, even in uncomfortable shoes. As a self-proclaimed expert in walking from the Quad, let me explain how I do what I do.
Let’s lay out the specifics first. Here is a step-by-step guide on the fastest way to walk to the Yard (entry point: Johnson Gate) from the Quad (exit point: in front of the Student Organization Center at Hilles), during daylight hours. I can only guarantee it is the fastest route for that distance. (You can also follow this route and cut through the Yard to the Harvard Art Museums and the Barker Center.)
Step 1: Walk to the SOCH
Or, more specifically, walk to the corner of Shepard Street and Garden Street. Personally, I would not recommend going down Mass. Ave. to the Yard.
Step 2: Go Down Garden Street and into Cambridge Common
This part is crucial. Do not cross the road. The fastest Garden St. light is a hidden gem that you can and should use in your daily walk.
Step 3: Enjoy the Common!
This too is crucial. It’s a park! Take in the trees! But please walk in a straight line if you’re listening to music, or a cyclist might take you out.
Step 4: Cross Garden Street at the Intersection with Appian Way
The light is right past the Radcliffe Yard and is the key to this whole route. You’re not just walking through Cambridge Common because it’s green and nice. You’re not even walking to the Yard. You’re actually walking to this light because it’s the best light in all of Cambridge. Press the button to cross (bear with me) and watch it change in literally five seconds. Revel in your power. Cross the street.
Step 5: Cross Mass. Ave via General MacArthur Square
That’s the little island with the public restroom booth. This crossing too is pretty legit, even if the first half can be tedious — the light at the second Mass. Ave lane doesn’t change for around 15 seconds after the cross signal goes red, so you can safely get to the other side even if you catch the tail end of the walk symbol.
Step 6: Enter Johnston Gate! You made it!
Except don’t enter the big gate, because of the whole you-won’t-graduate superstition. Take no chances. Now, cut through the Yard, and get to your classroom feeling energized and counting those steps.
Note: This route is not necessarily reversible, and I especially would not recommend it at nighttime because there are no blue emergency lights along the way. If you’re traveling at night, check out our after dark route.