It’s outside the Harvard Yard.
But it’s one of the university’s most visited places.
During my stay at Harvard, I used to buy my European newspapers and magazines there.
The narrow place was always full of us – students or professors from other countries – trying to get news before the online world existed.
And all of us were shocked a few months ago with these (wrong) headlines:
The decline of the newspaper industry has hit Harvard Square’s most recognizable building.
. . .
A Harvard Square landmark may soon fall victim to the decline of the newspaper business.
. . .
And the last owner added:
“Nobody buys newspapers anymore.
People are reading everything online mostly.”
Well, now it seems that the kiosk suffered most during the times when Harvard Square was undergoing major renovations, closing off lanes, and making it hard for drivers to pull over and park without getting a ticket.
Founded in 1955 by Sheldon Cohen, who started out hustling newspapers in the subway with his father, Out of Town News moved in 1984 to its current home, a handmade brick and limestone shelter with vaulted wood ceilings that was built in 1928 as an entrance to the subway.
It is now on the National Register of Historic Places and, according to the city, is an “internationally recognized symbol of Harvard Square.”
So, against all the early obituaries for the emblematic newsstand, on January 8, four vendors placed bids on leasing Out of Town News — a city-owned, one-story wooden building with 451 square feet of rentable space.
And the winner was Mike Patel.
He will keep the newsstand the same, and he’s promising to sell at least as big a variety of international publications as the newsstand sells now.
Patel owns Pembroke-based Muckey’s Corporation and operates newsstands and convenience stores around the state.
He’ll pay the city of Cambridge $140 a square foot in monthly rent.
Other official bidders included the student-run organization Unofficial Tours LLC at $136 per square foot; Gateway Newsstands at $100 per square foot; and Kallol Barua, who currently manages the building, with $106.43 per square foot.
So, my dear, despite fears that an era may be coming to an end, the landmark “Out of Town Newsstand” in Harvard Square will remain open.
John Kenneth Galbraith, who used to buy Le Monde there every day, would be smiling today.
Our Harvard newspaper and magazine haven is again open for business.
Sorry, but it was an early call!
Picture by Todd Van Hoosear/Flickr