Lonely Planet review
Founded in 1636 to educate men for the ministry, Harvard is America’s oldest college. (No other college came along until 1693.) The original Ivy League school has eight graduates who went on to be US presidents, not to mention dozens of Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners. It educates 6500 undergraduates and about 12,000 graduates yearly in 10 professional schools.
The geographic heart of Harvard University – where red-brick buildings and leaf-covered paths exude academia – is Harvard Yard (through Anderson Gates from Mass Ave). The focal point of the yard is the John Harvard statue, where every Harvard hopeful has a photo taken (and touches the statue’s shiny shoe for good luck). Daniel Chester French’s sculpture, inscribed ‘John Harvard, Founder of Harvard College, 1638, ’ is known as the statue of three lies: (1) it does not actually depict Harvard (since no image of him exists), but a random student; (2) John Harvard was not the founder of the college, but its first benefactor in 1638; (3) the college was actually founded two years earlier in 1636. The Harvard symbol hardly lives up to the university’s motto, Veritas, or ‘truth.’
Learn fun facts like this on the free campus tours (10am and 2pm Monday to Friday, 2pm Saturday and additional tours in summer) that depart from Holyoke Center.