Harvard Bridge to sport LEDs every 30 smoots

Thanks to a $2.5 million anonymous donation, reports the Boston Globe, state-of-the-art LEDs will illuminate the Harvard Bridge, which carries Massachusetts Avenue over the Charles River between Boston’s Back Bay and MIT in Cambridge.

The Globe quotes S. J. Port, development and communications director at the Charles River Conservancy, as saying, “A civic-minded donor who went to school on the Cambridge side of the river, and I believe still looks out over the river and over the bridge, feels tied to it.”

The design calls for a light pole every 30 smoots—a unit of measure arising from an MIT fraternity prank in which 5’7”-tall student Oliver R. Smoot lay down in successive, contiguous positions across the bridge as his fraternity brothers marked the lengths. (The bridge is 364.4 smoots long plus or minus an ear.)

Smoot parlayed his experience as a unit of measure into executive positions at ANSI and the ISO.

According to the Globe, the lights “will turn on for the night in sequence rather than all at once, a nod to the day more than 50 years ago when the year’s shortest pledge…lay down again and again.”

As for Smoot’s thoughts on the lighting project, he told the Globe, “I think it sounds terrific.”

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