Smackdown: Cambridge vs. New Haven

David Lyon for the Boston Globe

If you don’t bleed Crimson, you might not know that “The Game” is coming up Saturday. The Leaders of Tomorrow are all atwitter about this year’s matchup in the Harvard-Yale football rivalry that dates to 1875. Harvard has been having a better season, but Yale has a long-term advantage, currently leading the series 65-55-8. Moreover, Yale grad Walter Camp is considered the “father of American football.” As the Yalies prepare to invade Harvard Stadium in Allston, here’s how the two areas stack up on some town-gown essentials.


Cambridge: Student-led tours of Harvard Yard wind up with a quiz at Daniel Chester French’s

statue of John Harvard, a.k.a. “the statue of three lies.” Two errors are in the inscription: “John Harvard Founder 1638”: (a) the school was founded in 1636 and (b) John Harvard was merely a donor who got history’s best deal on naming rights.
The third lie? It’s not John Harvard at all. Since no image of the 17th-century cleric existed, French modeled the head on a student in the Class of 1882.


New Haven: Yale guides swell with pride over the statue of Nathan Hale, “America’s first spy.” Alas, he was nabbed by the British on his first mission. Bela Lyon Pratt’s bronze depicts Hale with his Yale diploma in his pocket as he is about to be hanged. Guides relate an apocryphal tale of the CIA scaling the Yale walls with grappling hooks to make a cast of the statue for Langley headquarters. The actual lie? Hale’s visage was also modeled on a student.

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Advantage: Cambridge. Nobody rubs Hale’s foot for luck.


Cambridge: Born as Club 47 in 1958, Club Passim (26 Church St., 617-492-5300,
) has been instrumental in the careers of innumerable folk musicians and singer-songwriters. Joan Baez sang there for free on Tuesday nights, and legend has it that Bob Dylan even performed between sets. Now
a nonprofit sharing space with
a vegetarian restaurant, Club Passim remains a top acoustic music venue.

David Lyon for the Boston Globe
Club Passim in Cambridge remains an important acoustic music venue.

New Haven: Posters proclaim Toad’s Place (300 York St., 203-624-8623, www.toadsplace
) as “where the legends play.” The concert venue and Saturday night dance party presents everybody from rapper Yelawolf to blues veteran Johnny Winter. On Aug. 12, 1989, the Rolling Stones played Toad’s Place before launching the Steel Wheels tour. 

Advantage: Cambridge. Techno makes our heads hurt.



Cambridge: The lack of a proper mascot (John Harvard — really?) puts the Crimson at a severe disadvantage. If you don’t need a Harvard-branded baby bottle, consider a Harvard Yard snow globe from the Coop (1400 Massachusetts Ave., 617-499-2000, It could remind you of the Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal snow
frolic in “Love Story,” said to be the last movie
actually filmed on campus.

New Haven: In 1889, Yale was the first university to adopt a mascot: a bulldog named Handsome Dan. You might see Handsome Dan XV strutting around campus. If not, check out taxidermied Handsome Dan II at the Mead Visitor Center (149 Elm St., 203-432-2300,
or pick up a set of Handsome Dan bookends at the Yale Bookstore (77 Broadway, 203-777-8440,  

Advantage: New Haven. Handsome Dan inspired
a fight song by Cole Porter.  


Cambridge: Forget the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes. We have been told that there are Harvard professors who will not rest until they have namesake burgers on the menu at Mr. Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers (1246 Massachusetts Ave., 617-354-6559, The seven-ounce burgers are ground fresh daily and come in more than 30 named variations. Cash only (“real food, real money”).

New Haven: In 1900 owner Louis Lassen first slapped a patty of ground beef between two pieces of toast. That act made Louis’ Lunch (261-263 Crown St., 203-562-5507, www.louis
) a contender for birthplace of America’s signature sandwich. The beef is also ground fresh daily, and still cooked on circa 1898 cast-iron grills. Garnishes: cheese, tomato, or onion. Also cash only.


Advantage: New Haven. A burger should be simple.


Cambridge: While Harvard renovates its main art museum building, a sampling
of its holdings of American, European, Asian, Egyptian, Islamic, and Indian art is
on display in the limited galleries of the Arthur M. Sackler Museum building (485 Broadway, 617-495-9400, Think of it as the
CliffsNotes to the treasures.

David Lyon for the Boston Globe
Modern art gallery in Yale University Art Gallery.

New Haven: The Yale University Art Gallery (1111 Chapel St., 203-432-0600, is putting final touches on a 14-year renovation and expansion project. Most galleries in the three linked buildings are already on view in advance of the Dec. 12 grand opening. The encyclopedic collection includes a
floor of Modern and contemporary art that perfectly complements the Louis Kahn Modern building at the heart of the complex.

Advantage: New Haven. The reno is done, and admission is free.  


Cambridge: Located in the original House of Blues building, Tommy Doyle’s Irish Pub & Restaurant (96 Winthrop St., 617-864-0655, shows sports on the main level as well as on multiple screens upstairs. Unless the Pats are playing, the sets are tuned to college games on ESPN Plus and NBC Sports Network (which is carrying The Game). Irish stew, cottage pie, and Guinness steak tips give a tinge of green to the otherwise red, white, and blue comfort food.

New Haven: In just two seasons, Box 63 (338 Elm St., 203-821-7772, www
) has become a near institution at Yale. Modeled as a roadhouse “from back in the 1960s,” it occupies a former fire station building and is full of Yalie touches like woodwork crafted from Yale Bowl bleacher seats. Payne Whitney Gymnasium is across the street, making Box 63 popular with jocks. Whatever
college games aren’t carried on NBC Sports Network are streamed on the Internet.
Updated American bar and grill fare includes cowboy steak, shrimp and grits, and Fisherman’s Wharf cioppino.

Advantage: Cambridge, by a field goal.


Cambridge: Cross Disney’s “Fantasia” with Alice in Wonderland and you get something like the flamboyant decor of Upstairs on the Square (91 Winthrop St., 617-864-1933, www.upstairson
). But the chefs aren’t fooling around with terrific contemporary American fare like spice-crusted monkfish.

New Haven: Chef-owner Jean Pierre Vuillermet serves top-notch French brasserie fare in Union League Cafe (1032 Chapel St., 203-562-4299,, a space decorated in between-the-wars style. For a couple of hours, diners can pretend they are in the Marais as they tuck into duck breast with a Niçoise olive sauce or roasted lobster with a fricasée of morel mushrooms.

Advantage: Cambridge. At Upstairs on the Square, wearing tweed is an ironic gesture.


Cambridge: The Harvard Museum of Natural History (26 Oxford St., 617-495-3045, has a roomful of dinosaur, amphibian, and early fish fossils. The piece de resistance is the 42-foot-long skeleton of Kronosaurus, beautifully reconstructed so that it seems to be swimming in the murk of Cretaceous seas.

New Haven: The Great Hall of Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History (170 Whitney Ave., 203-432-5050, is dominated by a bevy of fossil skeletons of dinosaurs. In fact, the hall was specially built to house the Apatosaurus (“Brontosaurus”). Assembled in 1929, the fossilized bones of the Jurassic giant weigh more than six tons and required custom supports below the floor.

Advantage: New Haven. The Peabody has more — and bigger — lizards.


Cambridge: In July 1775, General George Washington took command of the American forces on Cambridge Common. He bivouacked at the Longfellow House (105 Brattle St.) while the army camped on the Common until driving the British out of Boston on March 17, 1776.

New Haven: A three-sided memorial in front of City Hall (165 Church St.) marks the spot where the Africans who seized the slave ship Amistad in 1839 were held in prison. New Haven focuses on its role in the legal battle that ultimately set them free. The New Haven Museum (114 Whitney Ave., 203-562-4183, www.newha
) recounts the tale.

Advantage: A draw. Freedom is precious in either case. (Harvard-trained lawyer John Quincy Adams represented the Amistad men before the US Supreme Court.)