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Street Smarts

by Abhijit Mudigonda, Andrew He, Katie Dunn, Sebastian Cordova, and Sophie Mori


The flavortext in the puzzle mentions that we should go “out on the streets,” implying this is a location-based puzzle. Looking at the first clue, we find that Seth Carr recently played a character by the name of George Washington. We can assume that we want to head to the George Washington Statue in the Public Garden.

To find the remaining donors, we look for a place where there are other statues of people, and referring to the title, we deduce that they are along a street: namely, we can cross the street to the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, a green space lined with statues.

This is also motivated by the compass rose and the horizontal lines on the puzzle. The horizontal lines are streets, and with respect to the rose, the downwards direction on the page corresponds to the heading of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall with respect to the George Washington statue. Each set of four clues between two gray lines corresponds to a block of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

The clues are given to us in alphabetical order within each block, although some are written backwards, a fact we will use later. While outside, we collect the information on the plaques that corresponds to each clue. For example, Flora Norris Dydek’s name contains a botanical word, “FLORA”, and is on a plaque labeling a tree, so it corresponds to the clue “Botanical name on a botanical specimen. After we find all the names, the puzzle tells us that we can head back.

He has a large statue and shares both his first and last names with a character recently portrayed by Seth Carr (1/2)GEORGEG
Botanical name on a botanical specimen (1/3)FLORAF
Botanical name on a non-botanical specimen (3/3)BLOOMB
Honored by one Lee, but the enemy of another (1/2)ALEXANDERA
Name on a labeled tree which is directly across from a labeled bench (1/2)FREDERICF
His head is not actually marble (2/2)GLOVERG
Name on a birthday plaque containing the name of a Taylor Swift song (1/3)FOSTERF
Shares both first and last names with a famous mathematician (2/2)CONWAYC
Someone nicknamed "O'B" (1/3)DAVIDD
Flanked by an American woman and an Irish woman (3/3)COLLINSC
In modern day parlance, the five words on their plaque might say "YOLO" (2/2)BRUDNOYB
Name directly on a bench under her reverend (3/3)DEWARTD
Name on a tree next to a tree with a plaque with a quote about trees (2/2)EPSTEINE
A noted white abolitionist (3/3)GARRISONG
Someone sponsored by his family fund (2/2)COOLIDGEC
Someone with two benches to their name (3/3)HUBERH
Woman who shares a name with a head on copper who was hated by copperheads (1/3)ANITAA
Judge with two daughters (3/3)BROGNAB
Neighborhood champion and defender (3/3)DEVEAREAUXD
Small grandchildren are next to a bench in this person’s honor (4/4)DODDD
They had advice for readers and for writers (2/3)ELIOTE
A gentleman scientist (3/3)DAVISD
Nicknamed "Buzz" (3/3)CLARKC
Quoted on a plaque dedicated to Margaret (1/2)HELENH
The only one who is standing (1/2)ABIGAILA
Born near San Juan (1/3)DOMINGOD
)2/1( sraey 17 yltcaxe was ohw owt fo nrob reilraEEDE
He and his mother are remembered close together (2/3)DAVIDD
Later born of two who saw exactly 71 years (2/2)CHALFINC

We then notice that all the names we collected begin with a letter between A and H. This is significant because the eight parallel streets between the Common and Massachusetts Avenue are named in alphabetical order (Arlington, Berkeley, ..., Hereford), which we may have noticed while walking around the mall or which can be seen on a map—this is also clued by the image of a street at the bottom of the page.

The bottom image tells us we should index into the street name from either the front or back, depending on whether the clue was written forwards or backwards.

Indexing the number of occurrences of each initial letter into the corresponding street name (from either the front, back, or both for two letters) gives us an answer that can be read off a map of Boston and fits the enumeration: ROAD TO HELL.

Street Name# of names starting with that letter, forwards# of names starting with that letter, backwardsExtracted Letter(s)

Authors' Notes

The most direct route from the Commonwealth Avenue Mall back to MIT takes you over the Harvard Bridge. Halfway across the Harvard Bridge has this marker, which reads “HALFWAY TO HELL”. In this way, the “way back” clued in the flavortext is sort of a road to hell!