Nieman Foundation Books

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iPad, and with iTunes on your computer. Multi-touch books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iPad. Books with interactive features may work best on an iPad.

From the majestic Johnston Gate to the striped Dexter Gate and its often-quoted inscription, “Enter to Grow in Wisdom,” the 25 iconic portals that enclose Harvard Yard are as much a part of the Cambridge experience as Georgian cupolas silhouetted against the sky and rowing shells skimming over the Charles River.

Published by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, this innovative e-book was inspired by a Harvard January term class led by Pulitzer-Prize winning Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin, a 2013 Nieman Fellow. Drawing upon archival research and in-depth visual analysis, the project reveals afresh the art, architecture, and history of these exquisite essays in brick, stone and wrought-iron. Primarily built from 1889 to 1936, the gates have become symbols of America’s preeminent university.

The e-book examines the aspirations of the gates’ architects, most notably the firm of McKim, Mead & White, and the extraordinary assortment of patrons who were their sponsors, among them Wall Street magnates, Cabinet secretaries, a descendant of the Puritans and scores of devoted alumni.

This historic subject matter is presented in a richly-contemporary format, including dynamic iPhone panoramas that display the gates’ surroundings, plus an interactive glossary. The e-book also features more than 130 color photographs, original blueprints of the gates, a map of Harvard Yard, and archival photographs that offer telling contrasts between “then” and “now.”

The result is a vivid portrait that simultaneously illuminates the “hidden-in-plain-sight” beauty of the gates and trains a spotlight on their present condition, a mix of glory and neglect. As Kamin writes, “We hope the publication of these essays will lead to a new appreciation of the gates’ history and design—and a new resolve to treat their distinguished legacy with the care and respect it richly deserves.”

About the author

Blair Kamin:

Blair Kamin, a 2013 Nieman Fellow, has been the architecture critic at the Chicago Tribune since 1992. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1999 for his body of work, including a series supporting the development of Chicago’s lakefront. Other honors include the George Polk Award for Criticism and the American Institute of Architects’ Institute Honor for Collaborative Achievement. He is the author or editor of four books, including “Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago” and “Gates of Harvard Yard,” which drew upon material gathered from an arts journalism class he co-taught during his Nieman year.