Campus & Community

The writing’s on the wall

4 min read

From lovers’ pocketknife engravings to historical markers, the written word makes its mark on Harvard’s campus, whether tucked away in nooks and inconspicuous corners or emblazoned on Harvard’s Houses, gates, and walls.

Need inspiration? Well, that’s easy. Just look around.

A plaque just outside Johnston Gate details the founding, funding, and naming of Harvard “ Colledge” by the General Court of Massachusetts Bay. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
“Veritas,” meaning “truth,” is Harvard’s motto and is etched in a decorative marble molding on a mantelpiece in Loeb House. Veritas was a Roman goddess — the daughter of Saturn and the mother of Virtue. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Magnetic poetry inspires at Quincy House. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
This web of words, “Interspecies Invitational,” was a project unveiled in the spring at Arts First 2012. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Sometimes there are only the remains of words, as indicated by these remnants of posters on a tunnel wall leading out of Harvard Yard. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Winnie the Pooh’s home is now just a stump on the west side of the Science Center. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Another tree near Loeb House holds the promise of love everlasting. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
This wall at the Harvard School of Public Health declares, “The highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being.” Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
The names of Harvard alumni who died in World War I are engraved alongside a Malvina Hoffman sculpture called “The Sacrifice.” Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
More than 1.3 million bricks were used to build Sever Hall. Famed American architect H.H. Richardson designed the entrance so you can whisper directly into the bricks of the archway and be heard clearly by someone on the other side of the arch — about 12 feet away. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Words to live by, right fellas? This nod to sartorial etiquette still stands in Memorial Hall. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
In 1890, when Henry Lee Higginson gave Harvard 31 acres of land across the Charles River near North Harvard Street, it was his hope that the land would become athletic fields for Harvard students and that the grounds be called “The Soldiers Field” and “marked with a stone bearing the names of some dear friends — alumni of the University, and noble gentlemen.” The men died in the Civil War, and, according to Higginson, “heaven must have sorely needed them to have taken them from us so early in their lives.” Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Love that dirty water? A sidewalk inscription near Lowell House begs people not to dump toxic liquids into the rainwater grates. The Standells, who wrote the Boston anthem “Dirty Water,” immortalized the place: “Down by the banks of the river Charles/ Aw, that’s what’s happenin’ baby/ That’s where you’ll find me/ Along with lovers, buggers and thieves/ Aw, but they’re cool people.” Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Over the summer, Quincy House began renovations, the first in a College-wide House renewal program. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
“On this moment hangs eternity” — these words are etched into a pedestal near Holden Chapel, a gift from the Class of 1870. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
The snow eventually melted but not before this year was immortalized on Thayer Hall in Harvard Yard. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
“Enter to grow in wisdom” are the words Harvard President Charles Eliot had inscribed on Dexter Gate near Wigglesworth Hall. As you leave, the other side reminds us to “Depart to serve better thy country and thy kind.” Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer