Campus & Community

Seeing Harvard at dawn

4 min read

How does Harvard University wake up in the morning?

Just before the first customer arrives around 8 a.m., Café Gato Rojo employee Blessing Jee ’18 lifts a fresh bag of Colombian coffee beans to her nose. “This is my favorite part,” she says as she exhales. Jee says she’s not a morning person, but her warm smile and personalized latte foam drawings tell a different story.

Across the river, hundreds gather in Harvard Stadium Wednesday mornings in November at 5:30 a.m. to run the iconic steps for the November Project. Around the same time, others prefer a quiet sunrise run along the Esplanade, where members of the rowing team take to the Charles River for practice.

Not everyone is as quick on their feet early in the morning. Students can be seen napping in Lamont Library, which is accessible 24 hours a day.

Whether early birds or night owls, however, there is no question the people of Harvard University know how to start the day off on the right foot.

6 a.m. — A member of the 5:30 a.m. November Project group is illuminated by a fellow runner’s headlamp as he scales the stone steps of Harvard Stadium. He is one of hundreds of people who gather in the stadium every Wednesday morning, regardless of the month.
6:49 a.m. — Mohamed Rahman unloads newspapers from around the world at Out of Town News, as he does each morning beginning around 6:30 a.m.
7:27 a.m. — Members of the lightweight and heavyweight crew teams unload boats from outdoor storage in preparation for early morning practice.
6:45 a.m. — Curtis Sherrod exchanges the dirty towels for freshly laundered ones at Weld Boathouse. Members of the women’s crew team thank Sherrod as they pass him on their way to practice.
7:29 a.m. — Members of the 6:30 a.m. section of the November Project reconvene at their starting place after they completed — or attempted to complete — running each section of Harvard Stadium. They join hands before raising their arms for a group photo. As is customary at many early morning exercise events, they embrace one another before and after their workout routine.
7:22 a.m. — Harvard University freshman Oliver Hansen, a member of the men’s lightweight crew team, makes adjustments to a boat inside the Newell Boathouse before practice.
7:41 a.m. — Harvard University Mail Service employee Maggie Norburg transfers mail from the sorting center to a truck for delivery.
7:20 a.m. — Members of the men’s rowing team stretch before an exhibition race between the lightweight and heavyweight teams as an alternative to their typical morning workout.
7:49 a.m. — Minutes before his 8 a.m. alarm chimes, a Harvard Kennedy School student is seen napping after a night of studying in Lamont Library.
7:54 a.m. — Blessing Jee carefully arranges pastries before customers arrive.
7:51 a.m. — Harvard University junior and Café Gato Rojo employee Blessing Jee jokes with her manager, grad student Peter Kim, as she unloads fresh pastries delivered daily from the Danish Pastry House, a local bakery. The coffee house in the basement of Dudley House is student-run, and accessible only to members of the University.
7:30 a.m. — Bob Smith sorts mail at the Harvard Mail Service Center in Allston. He and several other postal workers sing along to the radio as they prepare the day’s mail for delivery.
6:34 a.m. — A pair of runners, clad in winter hats and gloves, brave the harsh 30-degree temperatures for a predawn run along the Esplanade.
6:17 a.m. — Out of Town News employee Mohamed Rahman greets the first customers of the day. He hands them complimentary copies of The Boston Globe as they chat over their morning coffee.
6:09 a.m. — A gate to Harvard Yard appears nearly in silhouette moments before the sun rises.