The seven best commencement photo spots on Northeastern’s Boston campus

Northeastern international affairs and cultural anthropology graduate Lexi Feldman poses for photographs with the letter N on Krentzman Quad. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Northeastern University was recognized as an arboretum in spring of 2019, making it the only university in Boston to have that honor. Featuring 141 species of trees and shrubs, the campus has plenty of beautiful spots to snap photos to celebrate commencement.

Last year, Irina Holdsworth, an arboretum co-op and an ecology major, and Stephen Schneider, director of horticulture and grounds at Northeastern, provided tips on the best places to catch Northeastern’s plants in full bloom this commencement.

Here are some of the best places on campus to take a cap-and-gown photo:

Churchill Hall

The lawn of Churchill offers azaleas and daffodils in bloom on Northeastern’s Boston campus. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

The flowers—including azaleas and daffodils—on the lawn at Churchill Hall are in full bloom. According to Holdsworth, azaleas have a superpower that makes them ideal for Northeastern’s campus.

“Azaleas in particular are of the Rhododendron genus, which is a bunch of shrubs that do really well in cities,” she says. “Obviously, on campus, in the middle of the city, is not the ideal place to be a plant in a lot of cases. We’re worried about things like underground utilities, people walking through, and general contact with pollutants.” 

Azaleas are uniquely tolerant of this environment, and they survive year-round, so you’ll see a lot of them on campus. The yellow daffodils, meanwhile, are replanted each year. Together, the plants combine to make for a beautiful setting.

Violas at Marino

Violas are in full bloom in front of the Marino gymnasium on Northeastern’s Boston campus. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

The violas in front of Marino Recreation Center are in full bloom, and are designed in a particular striped pattern. “They were specifically planted that way,” Holdsworth says. The violas provide a gorgeous backdrop for commencement photos.

Tulips outside Curry

Northeastern graduates pose for photographs by the tulips outside the Curry Student Center. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

The bright orange tulips just outside the Curry Student Center are “still going strong,” Schneider says.

The eastern redbud at the Dana Research Center

The Eastern Redbud blooms near the Dana Research Center on Northeastern’s Boston campus. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

The eastern redbud, which you can find near the Dana Research Center and the Veterans Memorial, is native to North America and Canada, according to the Arbor Day Foundation. Known for its rosy pink flowers, it also attracts butterflies. 

Holdsworth’s favorite fact about the tree is its unexpected relation to peas. “[Eastern redbuds] are technically legumes,” says Holdsworth. “Which is not common in a tree.”

Aside from the redbud, the Veterans Memorial is a good spot for a photo op for the variety of trees. “On the dog-tag side of the memorial is a variegated dogwood,” says Schneider. “Combined with the backdrop of the birches, it would offer a very woodsy background for photos.”

Richardson Plaza clock tower

Student Tessa Anderson works outside under the Richardson Plaza clock tower. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

Constructed in 1985, the Richardson Plaza clock tower is a popular spot for photos. “Richardson Plaza offers a beautiful tree-top canopy backdrop,” Schneider says. “Both the large Japanese maples and the grove of European birches work well for this.”

The block letters and numbers around campus

Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

The block letters and numbers around campus are great places to strike a pose in your cap and gown. This year, there are 2023 signs in Cabot Quad and Centennial Common.

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