What would “trust, respect, generosity, care, positivity and inspiration” look like behind the windowpanes of a corner store?
A wander down Mount Auburn Street, beyond Harvard University’s Smith Center at its intersection of Holyoke Street, sits a pint-sized space that hopes to show passersby just that – and maybe more.
The sign for “Gallery 24/7” – a red-letter, paper cutout, propped in a pane along Holyoke – could be missed easily were it not for the iridescent pink scales of a white fish design placed alongside. A few steps beyond, taped near the Mount Auburn entry, is a more informative sign. The corner location, once a Bank of American ATM, has morphed into an all-day, all night artists’ collaborative, the latest in what some hope will be a series of public art installations in and around the city. This location is sponsored by Harvard Student Agencies, which owns the space, and the Harvard Square Business Association, as well as the creatives who provide their work for free.
The temporary gallery took root soon after Denise Jillson, executive director of the business association, passed by on one of her daily strolls through the square. Jillson noticed the empty space in early June and called her HSA contact, Dan Boldt (founder of Trademark Tours and “former punk,” according to Jillson, who got to know him during his undergraduate years at Harvard). That was followed by a conversation with local ceramist Kyoko Ono about curating the site. HSA gave the thumbs up, Ono said yes and, within a few weeks, the space was transformed.
The hangout spot is being transformed into a plaza. Boston.com readers told us their reflections of the public space.
The Harvard Square pit, the red brick, sunken space near the Harvard Square MBTA Station, has been a hangout spot since it opened in the 1980s. Originally meant as an area for street performers to be showcased, the pit will be taken down this summer in order for construction on a new plaza, which will last about 18 months, to begin.
For many people, the public space is part of the culture of Harvard Square. It has become a place for young people, particularly those with a “revolutionary” spirit, to congregate, according to Cambridge city councilor and former mayor Marc McGovern.
“I started hanging out in the pit when I was about 15,” McGovern said. “I was in high school and was into the punk rock style in music, and the pit was a gathering place for like-minded young people, so I gravitated there. …You would make your rounds. You would start off in the pit, then you’d go to Cafe Aventura, you’d bum around Newbury Comics for a while — you kind of did the rounds, but the pit was always the anchor.”
We’ve collected memories from readers who shared what the pit has meant to them through the years. Scroll down to read 10 reflections on the Harvard Square pit.
Readers share memories of the Harvard Square pit:
“The pit is something that made that part of Harvard Square unique. I grew up going to the area at least once a month, usually two to three times a month, on weekends. No other area had something like the pit. I will miss it, knowing it is gone. I am glad it is at least becoming a plaza and not being converted into another store building.”
— Wayne, Tewksbury
“Cell phones were not a thing when I first found the pit, and I was late to the party. It was 1990; I was 16 and excited by the energy. I had walked through many times with my parents or grandparents heading to Cardullo’s or grabbing a burger from the Tasty (no, not Tasty Burger) but never stopped. … [Leaving] the house, [going] to the pit to find out what’s up, beats a cell phone any day. Yeah, it was a bit dangerous, but it was alive! … People heard about the pit from all corners of the planet; they will be disappointed when they arrive. …Goodbye, pit, but you’ve been dead a long time, starved out.”
— L.M., Cambridge
“I was a little too shy to hang in the pit when I was in high school. The punk guys were so cute. I didn’t feel cool enough. The energy coming from the pit influenced the whole Square, making it feel edgier and fun. When I was a kid, my Mom would bring me there to see folk music and eat hermit bars. The pit was my generation’s contribution. I was thrilled to get the opportunity to throw a celebration bash for the place, thanks to the Harvard Square Business Association and councilor McGovern. We had so much fun putting it together. It was exciting to watch old Pit Rats and kids who’d never experienced the scene partying together.”
— Jen Deaderick, author and Pit-A-Palooza event organizer
“We used to hang out there with my friends when we were young and listen to punk music.”
— William L., Arlington
“The pit is the origin of my social life in Boston. Coincidentally. Not because we went there to be social. [It was an] easy meeting ground, [with] good people-watching. A dirty hole in a clean area. We smoked, we drank. The pit was where the transient population of Harvard Square went to sleep and enjoy their high. The city does not understand the culture of the pit or the pit people; they won’t recognize the memories and time spent in the vague lounge-like area outside of the T station. They simply were not there to experience the vibe. It’s a damn shame; I’m sure they’d keep it if they knew. Anyways. Pit people for life. Rest in peace, pit.”
“My husband and I spent many beautiful evenings in Harvard Square. The pit was always a destination to hear good music. We always appreciated hearing singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman, who was just starting her career. I also remember greatly enjoying the very talented Shakespeare Brothers whose performance of street magic and circus tricks was outstanding — the three of them went on to great careers. I’m happy the area will become even a better place to invite people to gather and hear great entertainment.” — Cyndi B., formerly of Belmont “In the early 80’s, this was where the punk rockers would hang out. I was in middle school and an upper-classman in my town would hang there with his pet rat sitting on his shoulder. For us who listened to music that wasn’t mainstream and wore surplus clothing, the crowd at the pit made us feel comfortable.” — Chris L., Melrose “1985-1987, ages 14-16, it was a teenage hangout while we were ‘in between.’ [We were] not old enough for clubs, but ready to be out after dark, hang out with friends, meet new people, and listen to live music. We took the bus from Lechmere to the Square. There was always a performer, playing either blues or rock. Music that was ‘old’ sounding, but at the same time new to me. We went there in all seasons, but I especially remember the nights that were cold. It was full of alternative people. Maybe some punk kids, maybe some local teens, and maybe even some Harvard kids.” — Laurie, Cambridge “Proposed to my wife there, [around] 20 years ago. It was cold, dark, and smelly. We’re still going strong.” — Andres, Dover “Years ago, a friend sent his 15-year-old daughter from Germany to stay with my wife and me to go to summer school. She went out to explore Cambridge on her own, one afternoon. When she returned, we asked her what she had done. She told us she had discovered this wonderful outdoor theatrical production with fascinating actors performing. We couldn’t figure out where she had been, until after much questioning, we realized that she had stumbled across the Harvard Square pit, with its motley collection of oddball characters that was changing by the minute. At least she had experienced an adventure to regale her friends with when she returned to Germany.” — Lyle J., Cambridge
For the last few weeks of my fall 2021 semester at Harvard, that thought kept going through my head. Because … I did. I discovered the body of a deceased unhoused gentleman across the street from my school, Harvard University. And, even though I have lived through many personal traumas, this one shook me to my core in a very different way. It took me a little while to tell this story, but it needs to be heard. Harvard needs to hear it.
The Friday before fall break, I was shooting the final project for my Fundamentals of Photography class. The theme I chose was a glimpse into the daily lives of two subjects on either side of the Harvard gates: a freshman friend of mine who experiences certain privileges on the inside of the gates and a newly engaged and newly sober unhoused couple on the outside of the gates who are seemingly on the opposite end of the privilege spectrum. (The photo project was selected to be featured in a 2022 publication of The Harvard Political Review Spring Covers Issue: “How Are You?”) That particular Friday, I was invited to follow a day in the life of the unhoused couple, a pair I became close with through my volunteer shifts at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter. At 8:15 a.m., I documented as they began to move their “home,” a mountain of blankets, pillows, and trash bags full of clothes, for the second time in less than three hours. Once packed, a security guard from the bank next to the Harvard Coop came to wake up the other unhoused neighbors who had yet to vacate the area. One gentleman, a pillar of Harvard Square who never takes help when offered, woke and began to pack up, but the other, a gentleman to whom I had just given a warm meal at the shelter a few nights prior, didn’t even flinch when his boot was kicked by the guard.
Disturbed that the guard was kicking this sleeping man, I walked towards the scene and commented that it was not “okay” to kick someone. “He’s not moving,” the guard said. My friend, Jonathan, one half of the couple, ran over and tried to feel for a pulse. He let out a visceral sound of fright and walked away quickly. “There’s no pulse … there’s no pulse,” he mumbled as he paced. I got closer and heard the guard on his phone with 911. “I’m not touching that guy,” he said. I felt a momentary sadness wash over me … how dare he say that? The HPR reached out to Allied Universal, the security company used by the bank, for comment, but did not receive a response.
Having just been CPR trained three weeks before for my new role as a volunteer Overnight Supervisor at HSHS, I knew I had to do something: “Give me your phone. I’ll help him.”
“Do you know how to do chest compressions?” the dispatch asked.
“Is he on his back?”
“Okay, turn him.”
And when I turned him so his back was flat on the ground, I saw his face.
I’ll never forget his face. It was blue — it was frozen in time — he was gone.
I consoled those around me, and they consoled me, too. The woman in the couple I was photographing, Jillian, told me that his body was the 36th dead body she had seen in her eight years on the street. And, it made me think how easily that could have been me, because six years ago, I was homeless and an alcoholic/addict lost in my own world of pain. It could have been me on the street, laying there for hours, with no one even noticing that I wasn’t breathing.
And what made this terrible situation and loss of life even more heartbreaking is that no one knew who he was. He had no ID. No one in the unhoused community could give me more than a name they thought he had told them: Michael. He was technically a John Doe, though. How could I mourn the loss of a man I didn’t really know? But how could I live with myself if I didn’t try to honor his life in some way?
I had to figure out who he was so we could give him a proper send-off. He was our neighbor after all. I wish I had a proper photo of him to show the world so that someone somewhere who is missing their family member or their friend would know what happened to him. Days, weeks, and then months went by and no one has been able to identify his body. But, the Harvard Square Business Association offered support and resources, and together we were able to put up a tribute to his memory in front of the bank — across the street from my school — where I found him. A wreath, some candles, and a poem I wrote.
That poem, which hangs from the tree in front of Bank of America in the square, reads:
There you slept — many times before.
So peaceful you lay by the unopened door.
The day you were found — we could not wake you from that sleep.
In a dream forever now, is where you shall keep.
Your soul, your light — not forgotten by us here.
Forever in our hearts your memory shall stay dear.
Michael, our neighbor and our new friend.
We pray you found peace and light at the end.
Rest In Peace.
I truly didn’t think I was going to be able to finish that photo essay. I kept seeing his face every time I closed my eyes. Those ten words kept repeating in my head: “I found a man dead in front of my school.” And I just felt so sorry for him. And, honestly, at times, I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish the fall semester at all after that shock. But with the kind words of great friends, extremely caring professors, and the continued clarity brought on by my steadfast commitment to sobriety, I was able to continue on. I turned my pain into purpose, and that purpose was to stay focused, continue to help others, and honor this man’s life by continuing to live mine to the fullest.
It enrages me that literally across the street from the richest college in the world, people are dying on the street. There are a lot of good people in this town, though, trying their hardest to make a difference and to help others. But those in power, the community leaders, and the school could be doing so much more.
This is why we keep doing what we do at shelters (such as HSHS and Y2Y), local food banks, and various service organizations affiliated with the Phillips Brooks House Association across the city: to try to avoid this unnecessary and incredibly sad loss of life.
You might be asking, “What can I do?” There are many ways that everyone reading this can help. If you are a current Harvard student, stop by PBHA and sign up to volunteer at the shelter or with the nightly street outreach team. If you are a Harvard alumnus or a friend of the university, donate to boots-on-the-ground Harvard organizations making a difference in the lives of our unhoused neighbors. And, if you are a Harvard administrator or someone holding the checkbook of that big Harvard endowment, think about investing some of that money into affordable housing or transitional housing. Ask the students who run HSHS or Y2Y how they would spend a tiny fraction of that endowment to help their clients, and then give them the money to do so.
We’ve gotta do better, Harvard.
To everyone out there, on the streets, in a dorm room, or at home, reading this: Please take care of yourself and your community. We are all in this together.
A vision emerges unbidden, seemingly delivered not from inside the mind, but from outside, as though from the gods, or the God, arriving through some superhuman or supernatural force, an offering to the inner eye. In 12th century Germany, Hildegard of Bingen, mystic, writer, composer, philosopher, began having visions when she was three years old. In “And Again I Heard the Stars” (Spuyten Devil), a pulsing and sensual debut poetry collection, Somerville-based poet Christie Towers intertwines with Hildegard, bringing language from Hildegard’s visions into the poems, conjuring something alive and new. These are poems of, above all, wanting, of desire and yearning, and the flames that define the feeling, sometimes smoldering warm and low, sometimes burning bright and hot: “provoked swollen or intensified red / luminosity a strong feeling a quickening / arousal a source of illumination.” Towers’s lines are grounded in “a body entire,” and she treads the thread between the flesh, its heated presence, and the ecstatic, the joining — or the desire to join — with something or someone outside yourself. “I speak as one / in doubt taught inwardly great / secrets,” Towers writes. There is an abiding not-knowing, a sense of question, and “the restraint of flesh / this burning perversity.” Towers wonders what arises from the heat of not having, not knowing, and her answers are powerfully erotic, charged with the touch of feathers and stars. Towers will read from her work, with poet Aly Pierce, this Wednesday, July 27 at 7 pm at Porter Square Books in Cambridge.
The book business in Boston is booming. Harvard Book Store, the mighty independent bookstore in Cambridge, now joins the ranks of area bookstores opening second locations in Boston. In the spring of 2023, the bookstore will open an outpost in the Prudential Center, taking over what was once a Barnes & Noble. It’ll occupy nearly 30,000 square feet, a massive space, especially compared to the 5500 square foot Cambridge location. “In the simplest terms,” says Chief Creative Officer Alex Meriwether, “we’ll have more space to do things we’re excited about.” That includes an expanded events program, a much bigger children’s book section, and a number of community spaces. The expansion is due in part to the bookstore’s recent partnership with John and Linda Henry, owners of Liverpool FC, the Red Sox, and this newspaper. Meriwether is excited about giving the space its own character. “It’s going to have our philosophy on what kinds of books we display,” he says. The difference is “it’s not going to be an academic bookstore in an academic community,” and he, and the rest of the bookstore team, are looking forward to “learning who this community is and working to make this a special store for them” while retaining “a sense of who Harvard Book Store is as well.”
Construction is expected to begin this summer at the Harvard Square “pit,” the round gathering space near the Harvard Square MBTA station that’s been a hangout since its opening in the 1980s. Originally intended as a place for street artists to perform, the pit is being demolished and turned into a plaza. Permits are still being reviewed and construction — once it begins — will last for about 18 months, according to a spokesperson for the City of Cambridge.
“The vision for the re-designed Harvard Square plaza and kiosk is one that furthers its spirit of social and civic interaction and inclusivity by making it accessible to all visitors,” Assistant City Manager Iram Farooq said in a statement. “This crossroads is one of the busiest in Cambridge, and serves as a social, civic, and democratic hub, not just for Cambridge, but for the nation. The redesign and reconstruction will bring the space up to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards, making it welcoming to all visitors, including persons with disabilities who use wheelchairs or use other mobility devices.”
The Harvard Square kiosk and plaza will be “flexible, dynamic, and welcoming community assets,” acting as platforms for “community gatherings, including civic, artistic, and social activities,” according to a report from the city of Cambridge. There will be informal public seating for gatherings, and the kiosk will feature a visitor information center.
On June 25, the city of Cambridge and others held an event called Pit-A-Palooza, celebrating the life of the public space and what it meant to the people who used to congregate there.
We would like to know whether you have any special memories of the pit. What does it mean to you? How do you feel about its conversion into a plaza? What performances did you see there? Share your thoughts with us in the form below, or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your response may be used in an upcoming Boston.com article and/or its social media channels.
The second branch of the bookstore is set to open in the spring of 2023.
Harvard Book Store, a landmark of Harvard Square that’s been around since 1932, announced Thursday that it’s opening a second location, in the Prudential Center in Boston next spring.
The new store will be over 29,000 square feet and take the space of Barnes and Noble, which closed on June 19.
“We are delighted to bring Harvard Book Store to the City of Boston, while continuing our long tradition of bookselling at our flagship Cambridge location,” said Jeff Mayersohn, co-owner of the Harvard Book Store with his wife, Linda Seamonson, and John Henry, who also owns Boston Globe Media, including Boston.com.
Operating under a long-term lease with Boston Properties, owner of the Prudential Center, the new location is slated to have a “state-of-the-art event space” and “vibrant community spaces” in addition to a wide range of books, children’s included, according to a release.
“This is an ambitious project and we think we’ve established an excellent team to bring it to fruition,” Mayersohn said. “We envision it as an important addition to the literary life in the city and a welcoming space serving the many communities of Boston. We thank John and Linda Henry, whose recent investment in our company enables us to expand in this way.”
The independent store has a robust author event series of book talks and signings in Cambridge. Bryan Koop, vice president of Boston Properties for the Boston region, referenced these as a specific draw for the store to be in the Prudential Center.
This addition is the latest in a recent string of indie bookstore locations opening in Boston. A new bookstore called Beacon Hill Books & Cafe is opening in Beacon Hill this fall and includes a café on the first floor with three stories of books above it. Porter Square Books opened a second branch in the Seaport called Porter Square Books: Boston Edition this past fall, partnering with the creative writing nonprofit GrubStreet. Like the Harvard Book Store, their second location took them out of Cambridge and into Boston for the first time.
The move comes several months after Red Sox and Globe owner John Henry invested in the nearly-century-old bookstore.
By Diti Kohli Globe Staff,Updated July 14, 2022, 2:58 p.m.
Come spring 2023, a beloved Cambridge literary institution will add a second home across the Charles.
Harvard Book Store announced Wednesday the launch of a second location in the Prudential Center — in the spot formerly occupied by Barnes & Noble — expanding its signature collection of novels, coffee table books, and stationery to Back Bay.
“This is an ambitious project,” said co-owner Jeff Mayersohn in a statement. “We think we’ve established an excellent team to bring it to fruition. We envision it as an important addition to the literary life in the city.”
Alex Meriwether, the bookstore’s chief creative officer and former general manager, said this is the end of the road for a long-held vision.
“Jeff has been working on the idea for a second location for many years, certainly pre-pandemic, until our attention turned to month-to-month survival,” he said. “Now, the idea is to create a destination bookstore for locals and tourists alike.”
The move comes several months after the Harvard Book Store announced a new partnership with John Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox and The Boston Globe. In December 2021, Henry came on as a part-owner of the shop, with plans to stabilize the original Harvard Square location and perhaps expansion beyond that.
Henry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Now, the new 29,000-square-foot location in Back Bay — which Barnes & Noble vacated when its lease ended in June — will house a host of titles, including a large children’s literature section. There will also be an event space for speaker series, community classes, and meetings.
Traffic from events could be a boon for the Prudential and “attract many thousands of visitors annually,” said Bryan Koop, Boston Properties’ executive vice president for Boston, in a statement.
It’s quite a reversal for Harvard Book Store, which struggled immensely earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic. The owners continued to pay employees during the closure without revenue from its sales and literary events. “We had very few months of cash left,” Mayersohn told the Globe in December.
Federal funding, customer support, and an influx of money from the Henrys jolted it back to life soon thereafter, allowing the shop to renovate its decades-old fixtures and update its website.
The upcoming location paves a strong path forward for the nearly-century old book store, even as the particulars are coming together.
“We have not yet announced all of the details,” a press release read, “but we look forward to sharing these with you in the very near future.
Harvard Book Store owners Jeff Mayersohn and Linda Seamonson announced today they’re opening a second branch across the river – in the Prudential Center space Barnes & Noble vacated in June.
This is quite an ambitious project. The new store will comprise nearly 30,000 square feet, a space approximately five times the size of our Cambridge store. The additional space will allow us to do things that we can’t accomplish in Cambridge. For example, there will be a large section dedicated to children’s literature. There will also be a state-of-the-art event space that will host events for our award-winning speaker series and will also be available for community activities such as classes, lectures, and meetings. The new store is being designed as a warm, welcoming space that will continue our long tradition of commitment to storytelling and the written word and will be a major addition to literary life in Greater Boston.
They said they hope to open the new location in the spring.
Mayersohn and Seamonson continued that Harvard Square book shoppers can expect nothing to change:
In fact, in the next few months, we will begin renovation projects in Cambridge that will both improve the use of that space and make it more welcoming for customers, all while continuing our commitment to being a world-class academic bookstore.
The inscription on the casket just read “Michael”, fitting, as from all appearances, the deceased led a simple life. At the time of death, he had no home, no car, and no discernible possessions but for a few blankets and the clothes on his back. And even those were spare: light brown khakis with some grass stains, a pink and purple tie-dye shirt, a black Patagonia style jacket. No belt or shoes, despite the efforts of local business owners to provide them over the many months that Michael called Harvard Square home.
Celebrating, remembering ‘Michael’
No one can even be sure if his name was Michael, much less what his last name might have been.
For 7-plus months after Michael was discovered, dead, in front of the entrance to the Bank of America branch in the square, state authorities – in particular, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner – had worked to investigate the manner in which he died (required by law for any deaths that occur under violent, suspicious, or unexplained circumstances). CMEO conducted a thorough autopsy, performed extensive genetic testing, and tried DNA matching through a vast, national database.
Community members, led by Harvard Square Business Association Denise Jilson inquired about Michael’s case all along, wanting to look out for him in death as they had tried to in life. What would happen to his body? Would they be allowed to create a loving – and lasting – farewell for a man who touched them all, in different ways, almost every day?
Month after month, authorities said little beyond “can’t say,” hamstrung by their inability to identify any next of kin. But on May 24, their message shifted dramatically: “[we] have exhausted all efforts in trying make a positive identification for the Unknown Male that was pronounced dead at Mt. Auburn Hospital. He will be released from our office as Unknown.” Suddenly, Michael was on his way back into the arms of a community that hoped to celebrate him as respectfully as they would any other resident of the square.
“One of my big hopes for this gathering today is that Michael is a catalyst for us to see each other and to look at each other with a different sense of truth. To actually recognize each other as we pass …and maybe take that one step further beyond just seeing, and know each other.”
The Rev. Adam Dyer stood on the front steps of the First Parish Church in Harvard Square, welcoming a small group in celebration and remembrance of Michael’s life.
A proper sendoff
Mother Nature must have been part of the planning committee. The skies could hardly have been bluer as Tim Keefe of Keefe Funeral Homes pulled the hearse onto the sidewalk in front of the church, opening the back door so that people could linger, look, and honor the deceased. Members of the Cambridge police department stood watch nearby. Some had been among the first to find Michael, lying expressionless and alone, that November morning.
Passersby stopped and seemed to take note as others came forward to deliver additional remarks. Among them, Harvard Extension School student, Kody Christensen, who was among the first to find Michael the morning he passed and who revisited a tribute he had penned and shared publicly soon after Michael’s death. Councilor Marc McGovern and Cambridge Police Chief Christine Elow also spoke.
The mood was a strange mix of understated sadness and joy, appropriate for a man whose daily life was a challenge but who, despite it all, very quietly, left a lasting mark for the better on those who came to know of him.
Dyer thanked those in attendance for honoring Michael, adding “may Michael’s life continue to shine within each of us…may we honor his memory in all we do.”
And with that, a short 30 minutes after it had begun, the service ended. The Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band – a local Honk! favorite – again eased into a mournful dirge before quickly pivoting to a rousing, “stomp your foot”-style Dixieland tune, sending the gatherers on their way and Michael off, finally, to his resting place in a Cambridge Cemetery plot, donated by Paine Senior Services.
As she left, Jillson, who had taken the lead in seeing Michael’s case through to a proper end, once again turned the spotlight toward all those who had a hand in the day: Keefe Funeral Home (Tim Keefe) who had prepared Michael for burial and contributed the inscribed casket and transportation; Dyer who had offered to conduct the service and provide the streetside venue; Paine Senior Services, for their generous donation of a plot; and her HSBA board who trusted her to do whatever she needed to do, in order to do “right’ for another member of the square community. Behind her dark glasses, she murmured “we are blessed,” something Michael might have wanted to say to her as well.
Community members interested in making a donation in Michael’s name are encouraged to consider Paine Senior Services, the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter and the Capuchin Fathers, and through HSBA, the community refrigerator, located in Harvard Square for all those in need.
Soft serve ice cream store Taiyaki NYC will open a Harvard Square location in July, joining a growing number of chains setting up shop in the area.
Taiyaki NYC, which serves ice cream in fish-shaped waffles, gained fame on social media channels like Instagram and TikTok for its aesthetically-pleasing menu options. Its Harvard Square location will be the chain’s second store in Massachusetts.
Jimmy Chen, a co-founder of Taiyaki NYC, wrote in an email that the Harvard location will open at 6 Church St. — the former home of the clothing store Mint Julep, which has since moved to 43 Battle St. — in mid- to late July. The ice cream store will later be joined by the Dough Club, a sibling Japanese mochi doughnut store.
Taiyaki NYC will compete with the ice cream options currently available in the Square, which include Ben & Jerry’s, J.P. Licks, Milk Bar, Berryline, Lizzy’s, and Amorino Gelato.
Even before its official opening, some Harvard students said they will choose to frequent Taiyaki NYC over its other ice cream competitors.
Abiba Imam Dyuti ’24 said the store’s iconic waffle cone will be the deciding factor for her.
“The Taiyaki cone — I love it,” Dyuti said. “The Taiyaki cone itself is in this fish shape, but they also have this bear shape which is also cute.”
“It tastes really good,” she added.
Taiyaki NYC’s cones are an adaptation of an eponymous traditional Japanese treat. By Miles J. Herszenhorn
Taiyaki NYC’s emblematic cones are an adaptation of a traditional Japanese treat. Filled with red bean paste, taiyaki — which translates to “baked fish” — are fish-shaped cakes served as street food. The ice cream shop also offers traditional Japanese teas like matcha and hōjicha as soft serve flavors.
Nicole J. Bugliosi ’24 said she likes Taiyaki NYC because of its unique ice cream.
“You can’t really get it anywhere else,” Bugliosi said. “It just makes it really fun.”
While Taiyaki NYC offers six soft serve flavors, Bugliosi said she does not plan on being adventurous.
“I’m kind of boring, so I always get vanilla,” she said. “But if you want to try more interesting flavors, they have them.”
Julian F. Schmitt ’22-’23 said if Taiyaki NYC is similarly priced to other ice cream spots around campus, he expects it to be “on the expensive side.” (Ice cream served in the fish-shaped waffle cone costs eight dollars at Taiyaki NYC’s Boston Seaport location.)
“I guess what you’re paying for [is] the experience as opposed to necessarily the ice cream,” Schmitt said.
Schmitt added “the price is a deterrent” for him from frequenting Taiyaki NYC, but he did not rule out visiting once.
“I would be excited to go in and look around and see what’s there,” he said.
While Cambridge faces freezing winters for a large part of the school year, students said that snow, rain, or shine, they will not be stopped from getting ice cream in the Square throughout the year.
“Ice cream is best when it’s cold,” Dyuti said. “It doesn’t matter what season it is and what temperature it is.”