Harvard Square Subway Kiosk

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Harvard Square Subway Kiosk
Harvard Square Subway Kiosk.jpg
Out of Town News in the Harvard Square Subway Kiosk in 2011
Harvard Square Subway Kiosk is located in Massachusetts
Harvard Square Subway Kiosk
Location Cambridge, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°22′24.9″N 71°7′08.3″W / 42.373583°N 71.118972°W / 42.373583; -71.118972Coordinates: 42°22′24.9″N 71°7′08.3″W / 42.373583°N 71.118972°W / 42.373583; -71.118972
Area 500 square feet (46 m2)[2]
Built May 1928[3]
Architect Boston Elevated Railway[3]
Architectural style No style listed
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 78000441[1]
Added to NRHP January 30, 1978[1]

The Harvard Square Subway Kiosk is an historic kiosk and landmark located at Zero Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts.[4] It was built in 1928 as the new main headhouse (entrance building) for the previously opened Harvard Square subway station. After the station closed in 1981 for renovations, the kiosk was moved slightly and renovated. The Out of Town News newsstand, which opened in 1955, has occupied the kiosk since 1984. In 2016, the City of Cambridge (which owns the structure) may convert it for public use.


Subway entrance[edit]

A 1930s postcard of Harvard Square with the headhouse at center
The headhouse in 1967 with a pre-1964 M.T.A. sign

Harvard station opened on March 23, 1912, as the northern terminus of the Cambridge Subway.[5] Early plans called for an upright stone entrance in the center of Harvard Square, similar to those at Scollay Square and Adams Square. The headhouse was ultimately constructed as a massive circular brick structure.[3]:20,31 As automobile traffic through the square increased during the 1920s, motorists called the building a hazard to navigation. In May 1928, the Boston Elevated Railway demolished the 1912-built headhouse and replaced it with a lower rectangular brick structure with a copper-clad roof.[3]:32

The distinctive structure became a Harvard Square landmark. In the late 1970s, the MBTA began planning an extension of the Cambridge Subway – by then known as the Red Line – further north in Cambridge, which involved completely rebuilding Harvard station. Public opinion called for the historic headhouse to be saved; under the guidance of the Cambridge Historic Commission, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[1] Harvard station closed for reconstruction on January 31, 1981; the temporary Harvard-Holyoke and Harvard-Brattle stations that replaced it were too far away to reuse the headhouse. The new station, opened in 1983, uses a larger glass and steel headhouse at the original location.[5]

The headhouse was disassembled and stored during subway construction, then relocated slightly and restored. No longer needed by the MBTA, it was acquired by the City of Cambridge.[6][7]

Out of Town News[edit]

Out of Town News in 2006

Out of Town News was founded in 1955 by Sheldon Cohen.[8] The newsstand was long noted for stocking the leading newspapers from around the nation and around the world, many of which were flown to Boston to be available just one day after printing. Customers, especially academics, came to get the most recent editions of their hometown paper or of newspapers from parts of the world where important news events were unfolding.[9]

The newsstand became famous too for its regular clientele and visitors. John Kenneth Galbraith and Julia Child were both regular customers, and Robert Frost once asked for directions at the stand on the way to a reading.[8] Paul Allen, then a young programmer at Honeywell, bought the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics at Out of Town News. The magazine inspired Allen and his friend Bill Gates to found Microsoft that April.[10]

In 1984, Out of Town News moved into the former subway kiosk, which had been relocated a few feet north of its original location on June 8.[11][8] Cohen sold Out of Town News to Hudson News in 1994, though it kept its name and unique business model.[8] He operated several other businesses around the square and was known as the “unofficial mayor of Harvard Square".[12]

In 2008, it was announced that the newsstand might go out of business, principally because its unique function of supplying yesterday's newspapers was made obsolete by the ability to read them online.[7] The stand also required hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs.[8] In January 2009, a new owner, Muckey's Corporation, won a bidding war and signed a lease to take over the newsstand.[13] Muckey's diversified the stand's offering with more typical magazines and convenience store fare, but maintained the original name.[14]

In 2013, the city began studying use and possible renovation of Harvard Square, including possibly further restoring the kiosk. When the current lease expires in January 2016, the city may sign a new lease or convert the structure for public use.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ a b Feijo, Sara (9 July 2015). "Big plans for Out of Town News in Harvard Square". Wicked Local Cambridge. Retrieved 8 September 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d Cheney, Frank (2002). Boston's Red Line: Bridging the Charles from Alewife to Braintree. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738510477. 
  4. ^ "Shopping in Harvard Square". Harvard Square Business Association. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Belcher, Jonathan (27 June 2015). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district 1964-2015" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 5 September 2015. 
  6. ^ Kleespies, Gavin W., and Katie MacDonald. "Transportation History". Harvard Square Business Association. Archived from the original on 8 March 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Howland, Sarah J. (November 19, 2008). "Facing Lease Problems, Newsstand May Soon Close". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Levenson, Michael (20 November 2008). "Plan to shutter newsstand pierces heart of Harvard Sq.". Boston Globe. Retrieved 8 September 2015. 
  9. ^ Noah, Timothy (5 October 1999). "Saving Out-of-Town News". Slate. Retrieved 7 September 2015. 
  10. ^ Finucane, Martin (30 December 2008). "Harvard Square newsstand sold the magazine that started a revolution". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 1 January 2009. 
  11. ^ 1984 Annual Report. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 1984. 
  12. ^ Flynn, Kerry M. (11 January 2012). "Out of Town News Founder Sheldon Cohen Honored in Retirement". The Crimson. Retrieved 8 September 2015. 
  13. ^ Nierstedt, Jenna (29 January 2009). "Good news! Corporation rescues Out of Town stand". Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. 
  14. ^ Hansen, Amy (12 October 2012). "Out of Town newstand in Harvard Square adjusts to the digital age". Boston Globe. Retrieved 8 September 2015. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Harvard Square Subway Kiosk at Wikimedia Commons