— Blog Will Hunting (@blogwillhunting) July 21, 2012
And so began the live tweeting event of “Good Will Hunting,” or “Good Will Tweeting” at 2 p.m. on July 21. Organized by four guys from Boston who created Blog Will Hunting – a blog dedicated to all things “Good Will Hunting” – the 2-hour-long event covered everything from marveling at the award-winning dialogue to conversations about Robin Williams’ beard. But another thing that came out of Good Will Tweeting was the gold mine of Boston history as seen through the lens of the movie. Where Did The Tasty Go?
For those that don’t remember The Tasty, any simple “Google-ing” of the Harvard Square diner will reveal that it, as the tweet suggests, closed for good. So what happened to The Tasty? Well, the decision to close the diner was a contentious one. When rent control ended in Cambridge during the 1990s, gentrification permeated through Harvard Square and the consumer base changed. In short, Harvard Square became a hot-spot for higher rent commercial and retail tenants. As Harvard Magazine notes in its 25 year retrospective on Harvard Square, “In 1994 the Read Block was bought by Cambridge Savings Bank (itself a Square veteran since 1834) and plans were laid to replace it with a six-story office building. Despite efforts by many residents and the Historical Commission (which negotiated to preserve the building’s façade), the Wursthaus…closed in 1996, and the Tasty the following year.” And so, after 81 years, the battle to keep The Tasty open ended, and in its place went an Abercrombie and Fitch and Pacific Sunwear. And after that – a Starbucks and a bank. Minnie Driver Can’t Race Dogs Anymore We also learned a little bit about Boston’s dog racing history during Good Will Tweeting:
That scene where Minnie Driver went dog racing? Today, that would be impossible. The last live dog race occurred on Sept. 18, 2009, as a result of a Massachusetts voter-approved ban on greyhound racing. The 75-year local pastime was dismantled, and in August 2010 the Wonderland Race Dog Track closed.
‘Spare Change’ Vendor Makes Movie History
But perhaps my favorite part of Boston history, or more aptly my favorite tribute to Boston I learned during Good Will Tweeting was the appearance of the “Spare Change News” Guy in Harvard Square.
— Tweet Will Hunting (@TweetWillHuntin) July 21, 2012
For those that don’t know, Spare Change is a biweekly newspaper that is often, according to the paper’s website, “written, drawn and photographed by currently or formerly homeless, or otherwise low-income individual.” The man who appeared in “Good Will Hunting” is named Gregory Henry Daugherty, and after being a Spare Change vendor for about 17 years, he – along with the publication – has become sort of a Harvard Square icon. In fact, you can even go there today and tell him, “I loved you in ‘Good Will Hunting.’ ” How cool is that? For more gems from the live-tweeting event, check out the Storify here. It’s full of Boston tributes and insider references.