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The John Harvard Statue

Harvard Yard, Cambridge

Who is that?
Fraud! That's not John Harvard.

After they get over the thrill of saying "You can't pahk your cah in Hahvahd Yahd," about 30 bazillion times, tourists love to walk through the Yahd and have pictures of themselves taken with the statue of John Harvard, whose foot they then rub for good luck.

What most of them don't know, however, is that it's really "the statue of three lies." Despite what the plaque on the statue says, Harvard didn't actually found Harvard (the colonial government started the school, then named it after him when he bequeathed his library to it) and the school was started in 1636, not 1638. Even worse, that's not actually John Harvard! Harvard died portraitless, so Daniel Chester French (as in the Lincoln Memorial) used a friend as a model in 1884. However, French did give the statue skinny legs - because that was one symptom of tuberculosis, which Harvard had.

In 1996, some rascals from MIT dressed ol' John up like Unabomber Ted Kaczynski (Harvard '62).



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