Harvard Square Subway Kiosk
Harvard Square Subway Kiosk
Out of Town News in the Harvard Square Subway Kiosk in 2011
|Area||500 square feet (46 m2)|
|Architect||Boston Elevated Railway|
|Architectural style||No style listed|
|NRHP Reference #||78000441|
|Added to NRHP||January 30, 1978|
The Harvard Square Subway Kiosk is an historic kiosk and landmark located at Zero Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 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.
Harvard station opened on March 23, 1912, as the northern terminus of the Cambridge Subway. 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.: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.: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. 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.
Out of Town News
Out of Town News was founded in 1955 by Sheldon Cohen. 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.
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. 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.
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. Cohen sold Out of Town News to Hudson News in 1994, though it kept its name and unique business model. He operated several other businesses around the square and was known as the “unofficial mayor of Harvard Square".
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. The stand also required hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs. In January 2009, a new owner, Muckey's Corporation, won a bidding war and signed a lease to take over the newsstand. Muckey's diversified the stand's offering with more typical magazines and convenience store fare, but maintained the original name.
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.
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Media related to Harvard Square Subway Kiosk at Wikimedia Commons