Harvard Bridge


The Harvard Bridge, popularly known as MIT Bridge or Mass Ave Bridge, is the longest bridge over the Charles River connecting Boston and Cambridge. Construction was started in 1887 and finished in 1891. It is named after Reverend John Harvard, and was completed nearly 25 years before MIT moved to Cambridge, so now you know why the names are so confusing.

The official length is 2,164.8 feet, but Bostonians and Cantabrigians prefer to measure in ‘Smoots’. Oliver R. Smoot, as a fraternity prank, repeatedly lay down on the bridge and marked the height of his head and feet. By the end of the bridge, he had to be lifted and placed by his frat brothers (when’s the last time you did over 350 push ups?) The bridge totals 364.4 smoots, plus an ear. Twice a year, Lambda Chi Alpha, Smoot’s old fraternity, repaints the smoot marks on the bridge. Police have also been known to use smoot’s while filing police reports.
Another claim to fame for this fickly titled bridge? Harry Houdini jumped off it in a dramatic stunt in 1908. Don’t worry, he survived, though jumping into the Charles was not recommended then anymore than it is now.
Over the years, the bridge has morphed into the edition of it we use today. As early as 1898, bicycle lanes were installed. Various parts of the bridge have been replaced, including the entire superstructure in the 1980s, but it looks largely like it did when it opened in 1891.