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Preplanned City Guides and Travel Itineraries

Harvard University

On this page you find practical information, photos and videos about Harvard University.

Harvard University features in these preplanned City Guides:

3-day Boston City Guide5-day Boston City Guide

Why visit / Interesting facts:

  • Oldest institute of higher learning in the U.S.
  • One of the most prestigious universities in the world
  • A beautiful place to wander

Time required: 45 minutes

Phone: +1-617-495-1585

Web site:

Public transport:

  • Subway Red Line: Harvard Square

Address: Massachusetts Hall, Cambridge, MA - USA

Things you need to know:

  • Harvard is a private Ivy League university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, established in 1636, making it the oldest institute of higher learning in the U.S. (and even the oldest corporation in the country too)
  • Harvard is considered to be one of the most prestigious universities in the world
  • The current university president is Drew Gilpin Faust, the first woman to lead Harvard (she was elected in 2007)
  • As of 2010, Harvard employs approximately 2,100 faculty, who teach around 6,700 undergraduates and 14,500 graduate and professional students
  • The school offers 46 undergraduate majors, 134 graduate degrees, and 32 professional degrees
  • The campus is centered on Harvard Yard in Cambridge, 3.4 miles northwest of downtown Boston. The business, medical, dental, and public health schools are located across the river, along with the athletic facilities
  • The school color is crimson, which is then also the name of the school's teams, as well as its student newspaper (The Harvard Crimson). The color was adopted by the school (it won out against magenta) in 1875, but legend has it that Charles William Eliot (later Harvard's 21st and longest-serving president) started the trending of wearing red to represent Harvard back in 1858, when he gave red bandanas for the crew team
  • Harvard College became coeducational in 1977, with its merger with Radcliffe College
  • Was named after John Harvard, its first benefactor - he bequeathed the college his library of four hundred books and 779 pounds sterling, which was half of his estate
  • Harvard's impressive list of graduates includes 8 U.S. Presidents and 62 living billionaires, the most in the country

What to do there:

  • Start in Harvard Yard, then wander through the center of campus
  • Join a historical tour, given every day at noon (though check the 'Visiting Harvard' website seasonally for updated hours)
  • Walk from Harvard Yard area southwest on Massachusetts Avenue, then a slight left onto JFK Street, to the river. Bring a picnic, or just take advantage of one of the benches lining the Charles River Esplanade (you'll spy the business school and athletic facilities just across the river)

Tips & Insights:

  • Take advantage of a free tour, to get oriented in campus - it's a beautiful place to wander regardless, but can be hard to tell what's what without such guidance
  • Though it's lovely to visit in summer, keep in mind that most students are gone, so it can be hard to get a sense of campus life. The same can be said of January
  • Be sure to supplement a trip to Harvard campus with a stroll around Harvard Square, and the opportunity to find a handy cluster of great food and shopping

Harvard University features in these preplanned City Guides: