An alumnus of the class of 1981 writes, "The Baker House Piano Drop is a celebration of the student spirit, where a (non-functioning) piano is dropped six stories from the roof of Baker House to the ground below. Originally, the target was Amherst Alley, but after Amherst Alley was moved, the target for the airborne piano is now on the Memorial Drive side of the dorm, in the grassy area between the building and the road.
"Although allegedly timed to coincide with "drop date", the Baker House Piano Drop is actually a combination of dorm spirit, harmless destructiveness, and the willingness to do something difficult just for the sake of doing it."
An alumnus of the class of 1975 adds, "in '72, we dropped a piano off the roof of Baker House. We had high speed cameras set up to record the event, and a group who were taking Prof. Edgerton's high speed photography course got an A on that particular project.
It was the first event in what came to be a long-standing tradition. It was fun, non-destructive (the piano was not functional, one of the dorm residents bought two junk pianos and built one good one from the parts, and the one that was dropped was the left-overs. Plus, MIT Maintenance had the hole filled in with a few minutes, and the debris was picked up by students even more quickly, so within 10 minutes, max, everything was back to normal), caught the attention of Boston and Cambridge - it made the local news, a lot of people used some of their basic physics and math skills in a fun way (calculating how long it would take to fall, how fast it would be going, etc - it was a game comparing your results with other folks) and a group of students taking Prof. Edgerton's high speed photography class learned more about their science and got an A on their project.
"It was more than just a bunch of idiot students destroying something, it was a Event. It also helped foster a sense of community in Baker House which made the atmosphere in Baker more friendly than in most dorms and raised the morale of Baker residents at a tough time of the year, drop date."
An alumnus of the class of 1984 adds, "The Piano Drop was extremely memorable-I still have a few keys of the piano that dropped when I was a student-what a scramble! It's something that was done which you can't imagine anyone would let you do. The Piano was beyond repair though...."
An alumna of the class of 1978 adds, "I agree that the piano drop just isn't the same once Amherst Alley was moved. I was there in 1975 and it is a part of Institute history. When I meet with prospective sudents, the cameraderie of MIT students is something I like to brag about, and the piano drop is an inherent part of that history."