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Large Tree Branch Falls on Footpath in Harvard Yard, Narrowly Avoids Pedestrians

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A large tree branch fell in the middle of a pedestrian path in Harvard Yard at roughly 8 p.m. on Saturday, narrowly missing students and tourists who were walking through the area.

The large branch, which measured approximately two feet in diameter and came from an American elm, landed directly onto a footpath in front of Hollis Hall, a freshman dorm.

No one was injured by the falling limb, according to a Securitas guard who arrived at the site shortly after the branch fell. He said people walking nearby heard creaking sounds before the limb snapped off from the trunk, giving them time to move away from the tree.

At around 9 p.m., a maintenance worker stretched caution tape around the tree to keep passersby away from the branch, which is set to be hauled away Sunday morning.

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Before the 1990s, the Yard was almost exclusively planted with elms. But the emblematic trees fell prey to pests — first elm-leaf beetles, bark borers, and leopard moths in the early 1900s, then Dutch elm disease in the 1970s.

In 1994, following a plan developed by Graduate School of Design professor Michael R. Van Valkenburgh and tree consultant Peter Del Tredici, the Yard was replanted with a greater diversity of tree species. Today, the Yard is shaded by red oaks, London plane trees, and honey locusts — along with several majestic elms.

—Staff writer Tilly R. Robinson can be reached at tilly.robinson@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @tillyrobin.

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