Out of Town News, Iconic Harvard Square Newsstand, Could Be Forced to Close

Left out Cambridge's multimillion-dollar renovation plans, its future is uncertain.

Out of Town News, the iconic newsstand at the heart of Harvard Square for decades, could soon be forced to close.

The City of Cambridge has spent the last three years planning a $4.6 million renovation for the historic gathering place, but conspicuously missing from the still unfinalized plans is the 500-square-foot kiosk. The city, which owns the kiosk, would like to see it used by the public, rather than a private business.

Iram Farooq, assistant city manager for community development, told the Globe that while many people have memories associated with Out of Town News, selling newspapers and magazines “lacks viability.” But Mike Patel, owner of the private corporation that has operated Out of Town News since 2009, says his business does just fine.

“Businesswise, no doubt we do very well,” he said. “Magazines and the newspapers too. There are still some people who buy them and we have some good magazines from different countries. And also some tourist attractions and they come and buy souvenirs, candy, soda, and water.”

A postcard, circa 1930-45. Via Digital Commonwealth.

A postcard, circa 1930-45. Via Digital Commonwealth.

Though the kiosk was built in 1928, Out of Town News moved in after inhabiting a nearby space in 1984. Cambridge officials called the structure “an internationally recognized symbol of Harvard Square” in 1978.

The city’s plans do call for more glass panes in the redesigned kiosk, harkening back to its original look. The plans await approval from the Cambridge Historical Commission, which will review the project to ensure the historical character of the building is preserved.

While Cambridge officials have offered to help Patel move elsewhere, he told the Globe it’d be tough staying profitable in Harvard Square, due to the “outrageous rents.”

Photo by Nishan Bichajian/Harvard Libraries on Flickr/Creative Commons

Photo by Nishan Bichajian/MIT Libraries on Flickr/Creative Commons