In Photos: The Front Lines of Harvard Square

One year after Harvard undergraduates were sent home and Square businesses drastically shifted their operations in March 2020, the essential workers of Harvard Square and Harvard’s campus have worked tirelessly to keep the local community alive. The Crimson’s Multimedia Editors spoke with local essential workers who have largely worked throughout the coronavirus pandemic to learn about their experiences.


Iyobel Tensae stands in front of Adams House on Plympton Street. Tensae works for Harvard University Mail Services, picking up Covid-19 tests from 11 different test sites on campus. Mail Services returned to close to normal operations in the spring semester of 2021.


Gloria, a cook at El Jefe’s Taqueria on Mt. Auburn Street prepares tacos for a takeout order. Unlike many other restaurants in Harvard Square, El Jefe’s has not reduced its operating hours and remains open 20 hours a day, from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m.



Two chefs, Ivan and Israel, prepare pizza behind the counter at Pinnochio’s Pizza and Subs on Winthrop Street. Pinnochio’s has often been a late-night favorite in Harvard Square, but as of late November 2021, only take-out orders can be placed after 9:30 p.m.


A barista at J.P. Licks on Massachusetts Avenue finishes making an iced coffee Tuesday afternoon on one of Cambridge’s warmest days of 2021. All 17 J.P. Licks locations in the greater Boston area are currently open, yet none allow indoor dining.


A server at Le’s Vietnamese Cuisine in The Garage on Dunster Street gets ready to bring out an order of five bowls of pho to guests in the dining room. Many other restaurants in the building, including Chutney’s and El Jefe’s Taqueria, have largely remained open for dining since last fall.


An employee helps check out items for customers at the Harvard Bookstore on Massachusetts Avenue. The Harvard Bookstore set up curbside pickup services starting in early January 2021 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day to safely keep up with the volume of visitors.


An employee at Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe on Brattle Street prepares fresh bread by the deli counter. Cardullo’s has remained open, despite the pandemic, to provide gourmet delicacies and gifts, as it has since 1950.


A line cook prepares a large takeout order in the kitchen at Tasty Burger on John F. Kennedy Street. Tasty Burger greatly reduced its indoor seating capacity, reserving only one table and the counter for indoor dining.


At Saloniki on Dunster Street, Fernando cooks chicken gyros on the grill. Like many other restaurants in Harvard Square, Saloniki has had to reduce its business hours to cut costs and remain open during the pandemic.


Ivy Rose and Chris Murphy stand inside the entrance of the Fjallraven store on Church Street, taking visitors’ temperatures as they enter the store. Chris has been working in the store throughout the duration of the pandemic, which has necessitated numerous precautions to ensure the safety of customers.