Currently viewing the tag: "Somerville"
As someone who can fall victim to distractions, I’ve always valued the slightly-out-of-the-center-of-things location of Tufts. Students can focus on student life while on campus. Or they can wander a short distance from campus to surrounding neighborhoods with food, services, and fun. A short distance further off, they’re in the broader academic community of Cambridge. Or, with little fuss, they can take advantage of all that Boston has to offer. For starters, from Fletcher, it’s about a 15-minute walk to the subway (which we all call “the T”). Bus lines broaden the territory covered by mass transit (and make it easy for students to find housing with easy access to campus). Here’s what our options look like:
Buses 80, 94, and 96 actually come onto the campus, and the 87, 88 have stops five minutes from Fletcher. (Curtis Street and Packard Avenue bracket Fletcher on the Tufts campus. You can find the full map here.) So transportation links are pretty easy.
But what if all these multicolored noodles of bus and subway lines make it seem that traveling to Boston is a major expedition? Well, if you have a little time, you can always choose to walk or bike. Here’s one suggested route, for a day when you want to ice skate at the Boston Common (or, in summer, join the crowd of children splashing in the spray pool):
Sure, it’s five miles, but five miles seems like a nice balance — a quiet campus that’s only a long walk from everything.
No, this isn’t a case of Admissions staff amnesia. Many admitted students, waitlisted applicants, and prospective applicants will pass through our neighborhood in the coming months, and you may be wondering just where, exactly, I am (or, more generally, Fletcher is).
Fletcher is on the Tufts University campus in Medford/Somerville. Medford and Somerville are two of the small cities ringing the bigger city of Boston, and the border separating them runs right through Fletcher. Though a lot of students live in Medford (and I have my hair cut there), I think it’s fair to say that for social activities, students are oriented toward Somerville and beyond. Here’s how it looks on a map:
The marker is pointed at Fletcher, and you can see all the different towns that surround us. Notice that a little map like this one can also include Logan Airport, as well as Mystic Lake (convenient for biking, swimming, etc.). So I’m not going to argue that Fletcher sits in the center of a giant metropolitan area, but I can tell you that there’s a fantastic variety of easily accessed spots. You want to shop for local produce at a farm, hang out at a beach, and dine downtown in a single day. Go ahead and make your plans — it’s all doable!
When people talk about Boston, they sometimes mean the city alone, but they’re often referring to a broader area, which could include the inner-most neighbors or more. The population of Boston proper is just under 600,000, about 20th by size in the U.S. The population of Boston plus its nearest neighbors (including Medford and Somerville) is about a million, and “Greater Boston,” stretching out a little further but still within easy commuting distance, is about 5 million. For a small city, we’re rich with universities, museums, theaters, restaurants, and all the trappings of urban life. But being a small city, it’s also easy to head out of town and hike, bike, and otherwise recreate.
We’re often asked what it’s like to be a student here. Personally, I think there’s a great balance between the opportunity to focus on student life on a leafy campus and access to those urban trappings only a short subway ride away. The best of both worlds!
We have Norway maples around our house that provide wonderful shade in the summer, and hours of leaf raking in the fall. Bagging leaves was, therefore, high on the agenda for the weekend, along with cheering on Kayla’s soccer team during the final game of the season, and doling out candy to trick-or-treaters for Halloween.
But between those activities, we still managed to squeeze in a few unplanned extras. On Saturday, Paul and I decided to check out a new restaurant in Davis Square on our way to the movies. We had barely walked through the door when we saw friends of ours. Once we sat down, we spied one of this year’s MacArthur grant winners, whom we recognize because he works with our former next-door-neighbor. On our way out, we passed Tufts president Larry Bacow. Later, as we left the movie, we bumped into friends near the theater and, having walked them to their car, waved to yet another friend as she drove by during our trek home.
These are the days when, contrary to Somerville’s municipal status, it feels like a small town — the kind of place where you run into people you know wherever you go. I like that! But it’s also great to take advantage of all that Boston, our larger city neighbor, has to offer.
So off we went on Sunday. Hopped on the T and soon arrived in Chinatown for dim sum. When we walked out of the restaurant, I had a hankering for a cannoli. (Doesn’t everyone follow-up dim sum with Italian pastries?) A quick walk down the Greenway and we were in the North End, Boston’s traditional Italian neighborhood. Warmed ourselves with coffees and yummy cannoli at a busy but mellow spot.
Back on the T in time for Paul to carve a pumpkin before the youngest trick-or-treaters started ringing the bell. And we could hardly have forgotten about Halloween, as we passed witches, zombies, skeletons, one large elf, and a wookie on a Segway, as we meandered through this area where — depending on how you crunch the numbers — as many as 20 percent of residents are students.
All in all, a perfect small-town big-city fall weekend.
Continuing on the theme I started yesterday, I thought I’d provide one piece of info key to navigating the local landscape, and that is “the square.” Look at Trafalgar Square in London, or Tiananmen Square in Beijing, and you’ll see a space that is, at least, rectangular. Not so our local squares. Davis Square is sometimes drawn as this little guy, with two legs, two arms, and two (what?) sticks coming out of his head. Not rectangular, and certainly not square. The “squares” of Somerville or Medford (or Cambridge, for that matter) are the intersection of several streets. Closest to Tufts are Somerville’s Davis, Ball, and Teele Squares, plus Medford Square in Medford.
Now you have the essential knowledge that will enable you to understand Fletcher students when they tell you where they live, or the location of their favorite restaurants.
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