Friday, July 21, 2006

"The Hahvahd Tour" is Harvard's Prime.

This afternoon before "tropical storm" Beryl hit the Boston area [yes, you read it right, tropical storm in Boston!], I took the "Hahvahd Unofficial Tour" of Harvard University by these two students, Dan and Jordan.
It was just excellent. This tour is the big talk on campus and the latest tourist attraction in Cambridge and they have even hit the news.

Not only do they give the usual architectural and historical details of the buildings, they also add their own personal touch, making it so much more lively and interesting.
They will explain to you for instance why Leonard Hoar , the third president of the college, was never given the
honor of a building in his name (saying there is no "Hoar house" on campus!). In fact, they tell you all sorts of fun anecdotal stories and put a lot of energy into their tour.

Their initial idea was brilliant with simplicity - give an off-beat tour of Harvard University to the numerous visitors in Harvard Square. As can be expected the administration tried to shut them down but they had guts and fought on, finding a loophole in the rules that actually said that the registration of student businesses was only required during the academic year (and thus not in the summer).

The thing I liked best was their personal stories of campus life which you will not find in any good guide-book. That's what makes life so interesting though, isn't it?

Their story, I think, personifies the American entrepreneurial spirit. They started with nothing and didn’t even have housing and now say they make $2000 a week in tips. (my guess is that it is now much more), and they deserve every penny. The are also extremely well-organized, with a web-site, brochures and they even hire other students to help them. The whole business does well. As we followed the tour, we were closely tailed by the “Official Tour” which had not even half of their crowd and lost some of their people to the unofficial tour. They were proud of it as they should be.

These two students will probably go pretty far - I suggested politics or stand-up comedy.

By the way, if you wonder why they're called 'Hahvahd', well, go on their tour, it's the first thing they'll you.

NOTE: J2T is going to NY for the week-end and neither member will be able to blog before at least Monday. One of us will be in Chicago while the other remains in Boston. We will be back soon.


At 17:41, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just so you know, the official harvard tour is led by students which means that it will also have the 'personal stories and anecdotes'. The official harvard tour guides were trained by the Crimson Key Society who also trained the two unnofficial guides during the school year. They did not create their tour from scratch, in fact every story that has been written about the unofficial tour in the news has highlighted stories which are told on all of the crimson key tours, including the one in your post about president Hoar (spelled H-O-A-R). Crimson Key is a not-for-profit organization which hinges on community service, their begging for tips goes against the organizations values. Speaking of begging for money, one of the students did have housing counter to his claims, but lost said housing due to not fullfilling his duties as a proctor which granted him this housing. Finally, by intercepting tourists who are on their way inside the Holyoke center to pick up the official tour (often they have no idea that their tour is not the official tour) they are taking away student jobs, as the info office is granted a certain number of employees based on the number of recorded tourists who come into the holyoke center information office.

At 22:02, Blogger Boycott The Bean said...

i worked for these guys during the summer. First of all, the official tour is boring as hell. 2nd, they don't beg for money at all, they just tell the crowd that they accept tips, and people enjoy the tour so much they are happy to donate. Third, they actually hire students, so suggesting that they take away student jobs is ludicrous. you could just go work for them.

At 07:50, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Harvard College student and will maintain that the Crimson Key Society, which gives the official tours of Harvard, is renown for being more of a 'social clique' than a service organization. This contrasts with The Hahvahd Tour, seemingly two dudes working their asses off to give tourists a good time. Keep up the good work!

At 23:13, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We just went on the unofficial tour and happened upon it by accident. What a great tour. We are in town for the 4th, and will not be in town on Monday to get an official tour. We just happened to walk up and we are so glad we did!! Our guides were great!


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