If you walk from Back Bay to Cambridge via the scenic Harvard Bridge (which leads directly into MIT’s campus), you might wonder about the peculiar marks partitioning the sidewalk. These units of measure, affectionately known as “Smoots”, represent the height of Oliver R. Smoot, an MIT Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity pledge in 1958. As the shortest pledge, part of Smoot’s initiation included the use of his body as a tape measure, all down the Harvard Bridge – resulting in the conclusive “364.4 Smoots (+ 1 Ear)” at the bridge’s terminus. While the marks continue to be repainted each year by LCA, the “Smoot” itself has gone global and even appears on a Google conversion calculator.

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