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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Fabulous Festivities & Fireworks for the Fourth by Matt McGann '00

The annual Boston Pops concert and fireworks show.

Boston has arguably the best 4th of July festivities in the country, and MIT has a front row seat.

Each year on July 4th, a concert by the Boston Pops is combined with an amazing fireworks show, and is televised nationwide (10pm et/pt on CBS). The concert occurs at Boston’s Hatch Shell, a concert venue on the Esplanade, a nice park along the Charles River, which separates Boston from Cambridge and MIT. The fireworks barge is moored in the middle of the Charles River, across from MIT. See the graphic I made below:

Okay, so I’m not much with Photoshop, but you can see the barge is right in front of MIT, approximately in front of the Sailing Pavilion and Walker Memorial. Over the years, I’ve watched the fireworks from many locations on and around campus, including the Baker House and Senior House dormitories. But where are the best (legal) spots, you might ask? In my opinion, they are:

5. MIT dormitory roofdecks, notably Senior House, McCormick Hall, and Baker House. The barge is directly across from Senior House, and Baker has a nice big roofdeck.
4. MIT fraternity house roofdecks, notably Pi Lambda Phi, Nu Delta, and Delta Tau Delta. The houses in the Back Bay have incredible views and great parties along with it.
3. The Mass Ave bridge. Now that there are sound towers on the bridge (at approximately 100 Smoots and 250 Smoots), the bridge, with nothing to block its view, and relatively smaller crowds, becomes a prime fireworks watching location.
2. The Sailing Pavilion. For members of the MIT Nautical Association (the MIT Sailing Club) and their families only, you can’t get much closer to the fireworks barge. The nice folks at the Pavilion start grilling at 4pm, and sailing generally continues until sunset. I love the folks at MIt Sailing and highly recommend that you take a sailing class while at MIT.
1. From a Couchamaran or Carboat. MIT students and alums love creating their own venues for watching the festivities.

Another secret of the Boston 4th of July celebrations is that the Boston Pops do a special, less crowded, “preview concert” on July 3rd. I’ve attended the Preview Concert three times, and it’s a lot of fun. The Boston Pops program always includes many fun songs, like the Main Title from Star Wars, composed by the Pops’ own John Williams, but always includes Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. The live cannons for 1812 are always a big hit.

Here are some photos I’ve taken on the Esplanade for the concert:


The scene before the concert at the Hatch Shell.


The crowd gathers along the banks of the Charles River.


Across the river, MIT’s Green Building and Walker Memorial, with the Stata Center peeking out from behind the trees.


The Sloan School, Dewey Library, and Eastgate Residences are among the buildings along the river in East Cambridge.


I think the Back Bay area of Boston is very beautiful.


Two dusk photographs: first, the sun begins to set over MIT, while a blimp flies overhead; next, beautiful sunset colors over the Kendall Square area.

For further Boston 4th of July info, check out Bryan‘s one two three four five entries on the topic (I think he loves fireworks).

Happy 4th of July!

[This entry adapted from previous entries]

13 responses to “Fabulous Festivities & Fireworks for the Fourth”

  1. Snively says:

    It sounds amazing! The sad irony behind it is that although it’s at MIT, where I’ll be going to school, it’s during the summer, so I may or may not actually ever get to see it. This depresses me quite a bit, believe it or not. There’s nothing like the Boston Pops and fireworks!

  2. Wes says:

    You’d probably get an awesome view from the top of Building 10…

  3. Christina says:

    I’m watching from DTD’s roof! smile

  4. Yuzhi says:

    Looks so cool! I can’t wait to visit MIT on August 3rd!!!

    btw, are any of the bloggers doing tours on that day?

  5. Paul '11 says:

    I couldn’t agree with Matt more here. I actually had the privilege to be in Boston last Fourth of July, and it was nothing short of amazing. If you imagine everything that Fourth of July should be, add healthy quantities of the Pops, the Charles, and some of the greatest fireworks in the world, and shake it all together – then you’ll have a rough approximation of how Fourth of July in Boston feels.

    It’s sort of bittersweet I can’t be there now, actually. I have no idea what next summer will hold for me, but if I do end up staying in Boston I know where I’ll be on the Fourth. smile

    Happy Fourth of July to you all!

  6. Melis says:

    Great pictures, Matt! I wish I could be there =( I watched from the banks of the Charles once and it was incredible.

  7. milena '11 says:

    I’ll be watching, probably from the bridge :D

  8. Wings '11 says:

    I am DETERMINED to spend at least one summer at MIT (UROP? Classes?) just to watch the fireworks. They’re not that spectacular in California, but my dad (who is from Maryland) says 4th of July on the east coast > west coast.

    Enjoy tomorrow! (Well, today, your time…)

  9. Hawkins '12 says:

    I’m agreeing with Snively here – what an amazing show, and how ironic and unfortunate that I may never have the chance to see it!

  10. lulu says:

    hehe saw it on TV!

  11. Wings '11 says:

    Hehe, I did too, Lulu – but I can’t imagine what it would be like to actually be there!

  12. Joy says:

    I have recorded the video of the fireworks right in front of the Barge. Haha….

    I really enjoyed talking to you, Mr. McGann.
    MIT is fascinating, I love it!

    P.S. I am in RSI program now. Hope to be the freshmen next year. *

  13. OLE~ says:

    I really want to study in MIT!!! (Great Pictures, Matt!!!)