An hour after the eye of Hurricane Gloria blinked at Boston, two police officers stood on the steps of the Weeks Memorial Footbridge across the Charles River and warned the curious to keep away.

Next to the bridge stood a tree split perfectly down the middle by the storm.

"It's gonna go, it's gonna go soon," Officer Greg Gilford said.

Along the gray churning Charles, Harvard University students played football among fallen branches and leaves.

Two blocks away, a student emerged from the Boathouse Bar. "Happy hurricane!" he hollered, as he zigzagged down the street.

Gloria, feared for her muscle, delivered no knockout blow to Boston. As she moved through the area this afternoon, she bounced boats in Boston Harbor, toppled trees and knocked out power to as many as 100,000 homes. And that was about it.

Still, Boston, remembering the Hurricane of '38 and the Blizzard of '78, prepared for Gloria as if she would stage her title fight here. Schools were closed; off-duty police were ordered back to work; city workers were sent home before noon and other downtown workers were encouraged to do likewise.

The Charles River locks were closed early in the day. Emergency shelters were set up in community schools. Long Island Hospital, vulnerable because of its position on Boston's south coast, evacuated 100 patients.

Long lines stretched through the aisles of grocery stores and liquor outlets as residents stocked up to wait out the storm at home. Merchants throughout the area taped their windows and then posted signs: "Closed for Hurricane."

The wind, when it hit, brought little rain.

P. David White and Nancy Bennett drove down to the Charlestown Navy Yard about 3:15 and stood at the end of the pier to watch the storm.

"It was beautiful, exhilarating, dangerous -- but not too dangerous," White said.

"Like riding a motorcycle at 150 miles per hour," Bennett said.