Rachel writes: Secret history

Two final projects to work on. My Saturday seminar ends a bit early, on April 23, when my final project for that course is due. I am still researching and have begun writing. Spending quite a bit of time in both Widener and the Fine Arts libraries. The weather in the Boston area at this time year is unpredictable: we’ve had snow, sun, wind, and rain. We’ve had chilly; we’ve had balmy. The stairs at both of these libraries are still in their winterized state, with wooden tracks up the middle to prevent library patrons from slipping.

A few weeks ago, at the Extension School’s wonderful “FREETHINK@HARVARD” online event, “The Obvious Secrets of Harvard Yard: Reading the Hidden Landscape,” Professor John Stilgoe answered a question about the Widener stairs: Why are the risers so shallow? Turns out the length of ladies’ skirts at the time the library was built exerted an influence.

If you need an inspiring bit of fascinating diversion while in the midst of your final projects, see a video of Professor Stilgoe’s guided tour of the typically overlooked “secrets” of Harvard Yard here (for the sun-starved, it appears to have been taped in the summer, so you’ll get a warm Cambridge zephyr and some lovely, soothing greenery as well):

<http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/03/secret-history/&gt;

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