Celebrating the Ahhhts
Culture lovers are drawn to Harvard Square by such institutions as the Harvard Art Museums-including the Sackler, the Busch-Reisinger and the Fogg (currently displaying the exhibit American Watercolors and Pastels from 1875-1950). Meanwhile, also on campus, the Harvard Museum of Natural History is a great spot for curious types of all ages to learn about the wonders of the world we live in. Refer to listings.
The American Repertory Theatre is Harvard Square's Tony Award-winning repertory house, a venue that stages everything from Shakespearean classics to new works by unknown playwrights. The A.R.T. recently opened the renovated 300-seat Zero Arrow Theatre for small productions-such as the new cabaret (I am) Nobody's Lunch, running April 25-30 . Call 617-876-4275 for tickets.
Movie fans craving big-budget Hollywood spectaculars will have to look elsewhere, but a stop at the Brattle Theatre will thrill lovers of vintage film with its screenings of foreign classics, old black-and-whites like Casablanca and recent acclaimed art films. Refer to listing.
Concert lovers can get their fix at Club Passim (refer to listing), a nearly five-decade-old folk fixture where artists from Joan Baez to Richie Havens to Suzanne Vega have performed. Meanwhile, diverse classical and world music performances (including an April 29 show by folk artist Cris Williamson) take place at the Sanders Theatre (Memorial Hall on the Harvard campus, 45 Quincy St., 617-496-4595).
In recent years, shopaholics have seen an increasing number of familiar chain stores move in, but real delights can still be found in Harvard Square's smaller independent shops-spots like Berk's Shoes & Clothing (50 JFK St., 617-492-9511), which boasts funky footwear like Doc Marten's and Birkenstocks in every color imaginable, or the singularly intriguing Museum of Useful Things (49B Brattle St., 617-576-3322) a domestic's dream house where every product inspires the comment "I've been looking for something like this!"
Clotheshorses can check out The Tannery (11A Brattle St., 617-491-0810) for fine leather goods or trendy spots like Hootenanny (36 JFK St., 617-864-6623), Proletariat (36 JFK St., 617-661-3865) and Urban Outfitters (11 JFK St., 617-864-0070) for fashions that'll help you blend in with the college folk. Or dig for classic literature at Raven Used Books (52B JFK St., 617-441-6999) and the Grolier Poetry Book Shop (6 Plympton St., 617-547-4648).
The epicenter of Harvard's retail universe is the venerable Harvard Cooperative Society (1400 Mass. Ave., 617-499-2000)-more commonly known as "The Coop" (rhymes with soup, not slow-hop). Essentially, it's a campus bookstore, but visitors more commonly use it to purchase all those Harvard T-shirts and sweatshirts you'll see in your travels around Boston and beyond.
A Good (Harvard) Square Meal
Lovers of fine dining have plenty to enjoy in Harvard Square-from the contemporary American cuisine of Harvest (44 Brattle St., 617-868-2255), to Henrietta's Table (refer to listing) and its focus on fresh and natural regional ingredients, to the always creative fare at the whimsically decorated Upstairs on the Square (91 Winthrop St., 617-864-1933).
ALL'S FAIR IN HARVARD SQUARE
Nothing says welcome to spring like a good old-fashioned block party, and for the denizens of Cambridge's most-visited neighborhood that party is commonly known as the annual Harvard Square May Fair . On May 7 from noon-6 p.m., Harvard Square hosts its 23rd annual get-together filled with more than 200 vendors exhibiting and selling arts and crafts, handmade jewelry and clothing from around the world and from right there in the Square; delicious multi-ethnic food from some of the Square's top eateries; and three stages of live entertainment, featuring everything from rock, folk and world music to face-painting, puppeteers and dance troupes for the kids.
The action takes place over five city blocks-stretching from JFK Street to Mass Ave., to Brattle Street, Church Street and the Eliot Triangle-and generally attracts more than 100,000 participants, making it not only the biggest bash of the year for Harvard Square, but one of the biggest celebrations in the Boston area. Refer to listing.