Members of the Cambridge community gather on the lawn by the Weeks Footbridge along Memorial Drive.

Members of the Cambridge community gather on the lawn by the Weeks Footbridge for some relaxation and casual volleyball. The Dunster House tower looms in the background.

Photos by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

Here comes the sun, on Memorial Drive

3 min read

Riverbend Park opens for weekend recreation

As the Beatles once sang, here comes the sun. Smiling faces have returned to Memorial Drive. The route between Western Avenue and Gerry’s Landing Road, known as Riverbend Park, is now closed to vehicles during designated hours on weekends through Nov. 8. Joggers, walkers, cyclists, and skateboarders are out again in force, as bright skies, climbing temperatures, and budding trees set the tone for a break from the pandemic doldrums. People are moving easily, with social distancing built in. Dogs and even a cat on a leash, kids in tow or on tandem bikes, friends, families, and solitary striders all glide along. It’s a collective display of joy and relief at being safely outside with one another, with gratitude. With the spring comes hope, and a feeling that maybe, with a little help from our friends, we’ll return to some semblance of normalcy. Together we take a communal breath of fresh air.

Cambridge residents relax on the grass between Memorial Drive and the Charles River.
Cambridge residents (and some others) take advantage of a warm, sunny day by relaxing on the grass by the Charles River earlier this month. Newell Boathouse can be seen across the river.
Two cyclists pass an M.I.T. student dancer posing for photos for a friend along Mem. Drive.
Two cyclists pass an M.I.T. student dancer posing for photos for a friend along Memorial Drive.
A goose watches two cyclists walking their bikes along the pathway between the Charles and Mem. Drive.
A goose eyes two cyclists walking their bikes.
Grace Birch and Whitney McFadden FaceTime with a friend while relaxing on the HKS lawn adjacent to Memorial Drive.
Grace Birch (left) a postdoctoral research fellow at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Whitney McFadden, a physician and research fellow at Harvard Medical School, FaceTime with a friend while relaxing on the Harvard Kennedy School lawn.
Bicyclists wait for the light at JFK Street next to a barricade on Mem Drive.
Bicyclists wait for the light at JFK Street next to a barricade on Memorial Drive.
Sam Lazarus, a 2016 graduate of Harvard Business School, right, and Molly Levitt, 2010 from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, try to get their cockapoo comfortable in its new bicycle basket.
Sam Lazarus, a 2016 graduate of Harvard Business School (right), and Molly Levitt, Ed.M. '10 from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, try to get their cockapoo comfortable in its new basket as they make the most of a beautiful spring day.
A couple of Rollerbladers glide past a walker and a man sitting on a bench with his dog.
A couple of rollerbladers glide past pedestrians.
Joon You cuddles her shih tzu “Papi” as she walks along Memorial Drive.
Karen Mata and Rodrigo Guerra relax along the Charles River with their dog.

Joon You cuddles her shih tzu “Papi” as she walks along Memorial Drive. Karen Mata, M.Arch. ’18 (left), and Rodrigo Guerra, M.Arch. ’17, relax with their Australian shepherd on the grass. “It feels a bit more like normal, being out here today,” said Mata. “It feels like the start of a changing period. And being back here along the river brings back memories of when we were students here.”

Devin Srivastava ’21 (from left), Brooks Lambert, Nam Hyun Kim ’21, and Ruth Jaensubhakij ’22 gather on the grass between Memorial Drive and the river.
Devin Srivastava ’21 (from left), Brooks Lambert, Nam Hyun Kim ’21, and Ruth Jaensubhakij ’22 gather for a relaxing picnic.
Daniela Diaz ’23, left, and classmate Kilando Chambers ’23 bike along the closed roadway on Memorial Drive.
A mother and daughter cruise along the newly closed roadway on Memorial Drive.

Cyclists were out in force on Memorial Drive, including Daniela Diaz ’23 (left) and classmate Kilando Chambers ’23, and families like a mother and daughter pair on a tandem bike.

Cambridge resident Amy Rugel soaks up some sun by a row of daffodils at the Anderson Memorial Bridge.
Cambridge resident Amy Rugel soaks up some sun by a row of daffodils at the Anderson Memorial Bridge leading into Harvard Square. “I came over here by the bridge because there’s a guy over there playing his music, dancing around by himself, and I just like hearing music outside, so this makes the day even more special.”
Melissa Moore relaxes in her hammock on the lawn next to Memorial Drive.
Melissa Moore, a teacher at the Winter Hill School in Somerville, relaxes in her hammock on the lawn next to Memorial Drive. “I get in my hammock on a beautiful day like this and just read. It’s so peaceful and relaxing,” she says.