Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Kiosk

There's meeting tonight — 5/11/17 — ­at Cambridge City Hall in which a petition will be presented to the city council pushing for landmark designation for the Harvard Square Kiosk.

I won't be at that meeting. To put it bluntly, long-term Cambridge resident that I am, I don't much care what happens to the kiosk. Some years back, Out of Town News, which has been housed in the kiosk, was an essential stopping point for getting periodicals from all over the world, on all sorts of topics. These days, that function is superseded by the Internet.

What's referred to in the petition as our "beloved kiosk" serves mainly as a trigger for nostalgia. What's put forward as a reason for giving it landmark status is that people returning to Cambridge from the lives they've made elsewhere would miss it if it were gone.

Seriously? Who cares.

Last year the chess scene that had grown up around Holyoke Center, not many feet from the kiosk, was demolished nearly over night by Harvard University, with a minimum of public notice or participation in the process. The stone chess tables, the chess scene, the tourists and natives who gathered there in warm weather, and the musicians who played for that crowd made it a lively public space, the last I know of in Cambridge, once celebrated for its street life.

I don't care what happens the kiosk that time forgot — unless it is replaced by provisions for a street scene, chess tables included, that brings some real life back to the area. Barring that unlikely outcome, I don't care about the kiosk. Granting it landmark status, keeping it around to warm the hearts of tourists, will do nothing to save Cambridge from sterility.




2 comments:

  1. Ugh. It takes a lot of work to sterilize that at least formerly vital scene. Are you sure it's not the lens? Has the scene moved elsewhere?

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  2. >It takes a lot of work to sterilize that at least formerly vital scene.

    Cambridge was once famous for street musicians and performers. It took awhile to eradicate that. The final move came when Harvard tore up and demolished the storied chess scene in Holyoke Center, Cambridge's version of New York's Washington Square Park, which, as I wrote, served as a center of remaining street culture.

    >Are you sure it's not the lens?

    Thanks much for asking. See the above.

    >Has the scene moved elsewhere?

    Not in our fair city.

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