Founded in 1636 to educate men for the ministry, Harvard is America’s oldest college. 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. The geographic heart of Harvard University – where red-brick buildings and leaf-covered paths exude academia – is Harvard Yard. Free historical tours of Harvard Yard depart from the Smith Campus Center ; self-guided tours are also available.
Flanking Johnston Gate are the two oldest buildings on campus. South of the gate, Massachusetts Hall houses the offices of the President of the University. Dating to 1720, it is the oldest building at Harvard and the oldest academic building in the country. North is Harvard Hall , which dates to 1766 and originally housed the library. 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).