Tour guides leading visitors around the Harvard campus are quick to mention that the school, founded in 1636, is the oldest college in the United States. In historic Harvard Yard, tour guides explain that Hollis Hall, a red brick structure built in 1763, housed Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War. In front of Widener Library, tourists learn that the library system is the largest university system in the world, containing more than ninety libraries, more than fifteen million volumes, and some 100,000 periodicals.
The university’s age and outstanding physical resources are among the college’s most distinctive features. Yet, few alumni will say that the best part of their experience was the fact that the college is the oldest in the country. It is more likely that they will mention the environment of daily life as the distinguishing aspect of their experience, an environment characterized by the cities of Cambridge and Boston, a unique residential life system, and the people who make the school tick.
Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been home for all of its 360-plus years. Cambridge, located along the Charles River a few miles from downtown Boston, boasts beautiful tree-lined streets as well as numerous shops, cinemas, restaurants, music stores, coffeehouses, bars, theaters, and bookstores.