Freezing Time in Harvard Square

By Olivia Gehrke


Harvard Square, as rich in history and culture as it is, is no longer the central hub of Cambridge.

“You don’t hang out in Harvard Square [now],” said Elizabeth Green, a longstanding Cambridge resident.

The music has moved to Central Square, with an extensive amount of venues, and the trendy coffee shops and independent shops have shifted to the more affordable, slightly more humble Porter Square.

But nestled in the heart of Harvard Square is an unassuming white house tucked in between the city’s iconic brick buildings. Warm light glows from the thinly-paned windows, while the sound of distorted guitars blare from within.

This is the Democracy Center, a community space in Harvard Square that hosts non-profit organization meetings, various programs for minorities and the underprivileged, and on occasion, rock ‘n’ roll shows.

On a recent Friday night, Harvard rock bands gathered to showcase their music. The room had a portrait of Nelson Mandela, creaky hardwood floors, and the room was brimming with other Harvard students ready to support their friends playing the show.

It was an oddly juxtaposed scenario—the formality and history of the room with the gangly teens with guitars laughing at their own jokes on stage, or rather, the back corner of the room.

Meanwhile, the streets outside were fairly barren, minus the few Harvard students searching for parties elsewhere. Yet the room was lively, creative, and had the buoyant excited energy that Club 47 may have had when it was the hub for folk and blues music in the ‘60’s.

In the no longer hip and happening Harvard Square, there may be a haven to go to on a Friday night every once in a while. It’s unassuming, but The Democracy Center may have figured out a way to freeze time.