Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Attack of the Smoots

If you've ever walked along Harvard Bridge then you've probably noticed the painted markings along the sidewalk. Far from graffiti, they are smoot markings (a unit of length that measures 5' 7") that measure the length of the bridge as being 364.4 smoots plus one ear. As local legend has it, these markings first came into existence in 1958 when an MIT student by the name of Oliver Smoot (5'7" tall) was used by fraternity pledges to measure the length of the bridge. The markings are repainted biannually by the Lambda Chi Alpha pledge class using different colors. This tradition survived the demolition and rebuilding of the bridge in 1988 thanks to the Cambridge police who requested that the markings be maintained since they're useful for identifying the location of accidents on the bridge. As an added bonus the new concrete surface was scored at intervals of 5'7" instead of the conventional six feet.

The markings typically appear at every 10 smoots, but over the years additional marks have been added such as the 69 smoot mark which says "Heaven" below it and the 182.2 smoot mark which has the words "Halfway to Hell" and an arrow pointing towards MIT.


Anonymous said...

I think we'll have to believe you, you couldn't possibly make up a story like that!

South Shields Daily Photo

b.kiddo said...

im not into that story
damn MITers