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Cambridge is a city in Middlesex Countymarker, Massachusettsmarker, United Statesmarker, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridgemarker in Englandmarker, a nexus of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Notably, Cambridge is home to two internationally prominent universities, Harvard Universitymarker and the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 101,355. It is the fifth most populous city in the state. Cambridge is one of the two county seats of Middlesex County (Lowellmarker is the other).


The site for what would become Cambridge was chosen in December 1630, because it was located safely up river from Boston Harbor, which made it easily defensible from attacks by enemy ships. Also, the water from the local spring was so good that the local Natives believed it had medicinal properties. The first houses were built in the spring of 1631. The settlement was initially referred to as "the newe towne". Official Massachusetts records show the name capitalized as Newe Towne by 1632. Located at the first convenient Charles River crossing west of Bostonmarker, Newe Towne was one of a number of towns (including Boston, Dorchestermarker, Watertownmarker, and Weymouthmarker) founded by the 700 original Puritan colonists of the Massachusetts Bay Colony under governor John Winthrop. The original village site is in the heart of today's Harvard Squaremarker. The marketplace where farmers brought in crops from surrounding towns to sell survives today as the small park at the corner of John F. Kennedy (J.F.K.) and Winthrop Streets, then at the edge of a salt marsh, since filled. The town included a much larger area than the present city, with various outlying parts becoming independent towns over the years: Newton marker in 1688, Lexington marker in 1712, and both West Cambridge marker and Brighton in 1807. West Cambridge was later renamed Arlington, in 1867, and Brighton was later annexed by Boston, in 1874.

In 1636 Harvard Collegemarker was founded by the colony to train ministers and the new town was chosen for its site by Thomas Dudley. By 1638 the name "Newe Towne" had "compacted by usage into 'Newtowne'." In May 1638 the name was changed to Cambridge in honor of the universitymarker in Cambridge, Englandmarker. The first president (Henry Dunster), the first benefactor (John Harvard), and the first schoolmaster (Nathaniel Eaton) of Harvard were all Cambridge University alumni, as was the then ruling (and first) governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop. In 1629, Winthrop had led the signing of the founding document of the city of Boston, which was known as the Cambridge Agreement, after the university. It was Governor Thomas Dudley who in 1650 signed the charter creating Harvard College.

Cambridge grew slowly as an agricultural village eight miles (13 km) by road from Boston, the capital of the colony. By the American Revolution, most residents lived near the Common and Harvard College, with farms and estates comprising most of the town. Most of the inhabitants were descendants of the original Puritan colonists, but there was also a small elite of Anglican "worthies" who were not involved in village life, who made their livings from estates, investments, and trade, and lived in mansions along "the Road to Watertown" (today's Brattle Street, still known as Tory Row). In 1775, George Washington came up from Virginia to take command of fledgling volunteer American soldiers camped on the Cambridge Common — today called the birthplace of the U.S. Army. (The name of today's nearby Sheraton Commander Hotel refers to that event.) Most of the Tory estates were confiscated after the Revolution. On January 24, 1776, Henry Knox arrived with artillery captured from Fort Ticonderogamarker, which enabled Washington to drive the British army out of Boston.

A map of Cambridge from 1873.
Between 1790 and 1840, Cambridge began to grow rapidly, with the construction of the West Boston Bridgemarker in 1792, that connected Cambridge directly to Boston, making it no longer necessary to travel eight miles (13 km) through the Boston Neck, Roxburymarker, and Brooklinemarker to cross the Charles River. A second bridge, the Canal Bridge, opened in 1809 alongside the new Middlesex Canal. The new bridges and roads made what were formerly estates and marshland into prime industrial and residential districts.

In the mid-1800’s, Cambridge was the center of a literary revolution when it gave the country a new identity through poetry and literature. Cambridge was home to the famous Fireside Poets -- so called because their poems would often be read aloud by families in front of their evening fires. In their day, the Fireside Poets—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes-- were as popular and influential as rock stars are today.

Soon after, turnpikes were built: the Cambridge and Concord Turnpike (today's Broadway and Concord Ave.), the Middlesex Turnpike (Hampshire St. and Massachusetts Ave. northwest of Porter Squaremarker), and what are today's Cambridge, Main, and Harvard Streets were roads to connect various areas of Cambridge to the bridges. In addition, railroads crisscrossed the town during the same era, leading to the development of Porter Square as well as the creation of neighboring town Somervillemarker from the formerly rural parts of Charlestownmarker.

1852 Map of Boston area showing Cambridge and rail lines.

Cambridge was incorporated as a city in 1846. Its commercial center also began to shift from Harvard Square to Central Square, which became the downtown of the city. Between 1850 and 1900, Cambridge took on much of its present character — streetcar suburban development along the turnpikes, with working-class and industrial neighborhoods focused on East Cambridge, comfortable middle-class housing being built on old estates in Cambridgeport and Mid-Cambridge, and upper-class enclaves near Harvard University and on the minor hills of the city. The coming of the railroad to North Cambridge and Northwest Cambridge then led to three major changes in the city: the development of massive brickyards and brickworks between Massachusetts Ave., Concord Ave. and Alewife Brookmarker; the ice-cutting industry launched by Frederic Tudor on Fresh Pondmarker; and the carving up of the last estates into residential subdivisions to provide housing to the thousands of immigrants that arrived to work in the new industries.

For many years, the city's largest employer was the New England Glass Company, founded in 1818. By the middle of the 19th century it was the largest and most modern glassworks in the world. In 1888, all production was moved, by Edmund Drummond Libbey, to Toledo, Ohio, where it continues today under the name Owens Illinois. Flint glassware with heavy lead content, produced by that company, is prized by antique glass collectors. There is none on public display in Cambridge, but there is a large collection in the Toledo Museum of Art.

Among the largest businesses located in Cambridge was the firm of Carter's Ink Company, whose neon sign long adorned the Charles River and which was for many years the largest manufacturer of ink in the world.

By 1920, Cambridge was one of the main industrial cities of New Englandmarker, with nearly 120,000 residents. As industry in New England began to decline during the Great Depression and after World War II, Cambridge lost much of its industrial base. It also began the transition to being an intellectual, rather than an industrial, center. Harvard University had always been important in the city (both as a landowner and as an institution), but it began to play a more dominant role in the city's life and culture. Also, the move of the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker from Boston in 1912 ensured Cambridge's status as an intellectual center of the United States.

After the 1950s, the city's population began to decline slowly, as families tended to be replaced by single people and young couples. The 1980s brought a wave of high technology start-ups, creating software such as Visicalc and Lotus 1-2-3, and advanced computers, but many of these companies fell into decline with the fall of the minicomputer and DOS-based systems. However, the city continues to be home to many startups as well as a thriving biotech industry. By the end of the twentieth century, Cambridge had one of the most expensive housing markets in the Northeastern United States.

While maintaining much diversity in class, race, and age, it became harder and harder for those who grew up in the city to be able to afford to stay. The end of rent control in 1994 prompted many Cambridge renters to move to housing that was more affordable, in Somerville and other communities. In 2005, a reassessment of residential property values resulted in a disproportionate number of houses owned by non-affluent people jumping in value relative to other houses, with hundreds having their property tax increased by over 100%; this forced many homeowners in Cambridge to move elsewhere.

As of 2006, Cambridge's mix of amenities and proximity to Boston has kept housing prices relatively stable.


Cambridge is located at .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.1 square miles (18.5 km²), of which, 6.4 square miles (16.7 km²) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km²) of it (9.82%) is water.

Adjacent towns

Cambridge is located in eastern Massachusetts, bordered by:

The border between Cambridge and the neighboring city of Somervillemarker passes through densely populated neighborhoods which are connected by the MBTA Red Line. Some of the main squares, Inmanmarker, Portermarker, and to a lesser extent, Harvardmarker, are very close to the city line, as are Somerville's Unionmarker and Davis Squaresmarker.


Harvard Square

Cambridge has been called the "City of Squares" by some, as most of its commercial districts are major street intersections known as squares. Each of the squares acts as something of a neighborhood center. These include:
  • Kendall Squaremarker, formed by the junction of Broadway, Main Street, and Third Street. Just over the Longfellow Bridgemarker from Boston, at the eastern end of the MITmarker campus, it is served by an MBTA Red Line stationmarker. Most of Cambridge's large office towers are located here, giving the area somewhat of an office park feel. A flourishing biotech industry has grown up around this area. The "One Kendall Square" complex is nearby, but—confusingly—not actually in Kendall Square.
  • Central Squaremarker, formed by the junction of Massachusetts Avenue, Prospect Street, and Western Avenue and is well-known for its wide variety of ethnic restaurants. Even as recently as the late 1990s it was rather run-down; it underwent a controversial gentrification in recent years (in conjunction with the development of the nearby University Park at MIT), and continues to grow more expensive. It is served by a Red Line stationmarker. Lafayette Square, formed by the junction of Massachusetts Avenue, Columbia Street, Sidney Street, and Main Street, is considered a part of the Central Square area. Cambridgeport is south of Central Square along Magazine Street and Brookline Street.
  • Harvard Squaremarker, formed by the junction of Massachusetts Avenue, Brattle Street, and JFK Street. This is the primary site of Harvard Universitymarker, the oldest college in the United States, and is a major Cambridge shopping area (although not as exclusively so as in years past). It is served by a Red Line stationmarker. Harvard Square was originally the northwestern terminus of the Red Line and a major transfer point to streetcars that also operated in a short tunnel – which is still a major bus terminal, although the area under the Square was reconfigured dramatically in the 1980s when the Red Line was extended. The Harvard Square area includes Brattle Square and Eliot Square. A short distance away from the square lies the Cambridge Commonmarker, while the neighborhood north of Harvard and east of Massachusetts Avenue is known as Agassiz in honor of the famed scientist Louis Agassiz.
  • Porter Squaremarker, about a mile north on Massachusetts Avenue from Harvard Square, is formed by the junction of Massachusetts and Somerville Avenues, and includes part of the city of Somervillemarker. It is served by the Porter Square stationmarker, a complex housing a Red Line stop and a Fitchburg Line commuter rail stop. Lesley University's University Hall and Porter campus are located at Porter Square.
  • Inman Squaremarker, at the junction of Cambridge and Hampshire streets in Mid-Cambridge. Inman Square is home to many diverse restaurants, bars and boutiques. Ryles Jazz Club and the S&S Restaurant are two legends of Inman Square. The funky street scene still holds some urban flair, but was dressed up recently with Victorian streetlights, benches and bus stops. A new community park was installed and is a favorite place to enjoy some takeout food from the nearby restaurants and ice cream parlor.
  • Lechmere Square, at the junction of Cambridge and First streets, adjacent to the CambridgeSide Galleria shopping mall. Perhaps best known as the northern terminus of the MBTA Green Line subway.


The residential neighborhoods ( map) in Cambridge border, but are not defined by the squares. These include:
  • East Cambridgemarker (Area 1) is bordered on the north by the Somervillemarker border, on the east by the Charles River, on the south by Broadway and Main Street, and on the west by the Grand Junction Railroad tracks. It includes the NorthPoint development.
  • MITmarker Campus (Area 2) is bordered on the north by Broadway, on the south and east by the Charles River, and on the west by the Grand Junction Railroad tracks.
  • Wellington-Harrington (Area 3) is bordered on the north by the Somervillemarker border, on the south and west by Hampshire Street, and on the east by the Grand Junction Railroad tracks.
  • Area 4 is bordered on the north by Hampshire Street, on the south by Massachusetts Avenue, on the west by Prospect Street, and on the east by the Grand Junction Railroad tracks. Residents of Area 4 often refer to their neighborhood simply as "The Port", and refer to the area of Cambridgeport and Riverside as "The Coast".
  • Cambridgeport (Area 5) is bordered on the north by Massachusetts Avenue, on the south by the Charles River, on the west by River Street, and on the east by the Grand Junction Railroad tracks.
  • Mid-Cambridge (Area 6) is bordered on the north by Kirkland and Hampshire Streets and the Somervillemarker border, on the south by Massachusetts Avenue, on the west by Peabody Street, and on the east by Prospect Street.
  • Riverside (Area 7), an area sometimes referred to as "The Coast", is bordered on the north by Massachusetts Avenue, on the south by the Charles River, on the west by JFK Street, and on the east by River Street.
  • Agassiz (Area 8) is bordered on the north by the Somervillemarker border, on the south and east by Kirkland Street, and on the west by Massachusetts Avenue.
  • Peabody (Area 9) is bordered on the north by railroad tracks, on the south by Concord Avenue, on the west by railroad tracks, and on the east by Massachusetts Avenue. The Avon Hill sub-neighborhood consists of the higher elevations bounded by Upland Road, Raymond Street, Linnaean Street and Massachusetts Avenue.
  • Brattle area/West Cambridge (Area 10) is bordered on the north by Concord Avenue and Garden Street, on the south by the Charles River and the Watertownmarker border, on the west by Fresh Pond and the Collins Branch Library, and on the east by JFK Street. It includes the sub-neighborhoods of Brattle Street and Huron Village.
  • North Cambridgemarker (Area 11) is bordered on the north by the Arlingtonmarker and Somervillemarker borders, on the south by railroad tracks, on the west by the Belmontmarker border, and on the east by the Somervillemarker border.
  • Cambridge Highlands (Area 12) is bordered on the north and east by railroad tracks, on the south by Fresh Pond, and on the west by the Belmontmarker border.
  • Strawberry Hill, also known as West Cambridge (Area 13), is bordered on the north by Fresh Pond, on the south by the Watertownmarker border, on the west by the Belmontmarker border, and on the east by railroad tracks.

At the western edge of Cambridge, Mount Auburn Cemeterymarker is well known as the first garden cemetery, for its distinguished inhabitants, for its superb landscaping (the oldest planned landscape in the country), and as a first-rate arboretum. Although known as a Cambridge landmark, much of the cemetery lies within the bounds of Watertown. It is also a significant Important Bird Area (IBA) in the Greater Boston area.


As of the census of 2000, there were 101,355 people, 42,615 households, and 17,599 families residing in the city. The population density was 15,766.1 people per square mile (6,086.1/km²), making Cambridge the fifth most densely populated city in the U.S. and the second most densely populated city in Massachusettsmarker behind neighboring Somervillemarker. There were 44,725 housing units at an average density of 6,957.1/sq mi (2,685.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 68.10% White, 11.92% Black or African American, 0.29% Native American, 11.88% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 3.19% from other races, and 4.56% from two or more races. 7.36% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. This rather closely parallels the average racial demographics of the United States as a whole, although Cambridge has significantly more Asians than the average, and fewer Hispanics and Caucasians. 11.0% were of Irish, 7.2% English, 6.9% Italian, 5.5% West Indianmarker and 5.3% German ancestry according to Census 2000. 69.4% spoke English, 6.9% Spanish, 3.2% Chinese or Mandarin, 3.0% Portuguese, 2.9% French Creole, 2.3% French, 1.5% Korean and 1.0% Italian as their first language.

There were 42,615 households out of which 17.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.1% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 58.7% were non-families. 41.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.03 and the average family size was 2.83.

In the city the population was spread out with 13.3% under the age of 18, 21.2% from 18 to 24, 38.6% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 96.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $47,979, and the median income for a family was $59,423 (these figures had risen to $58,457 and $79,533 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $43,825 versus $38,489 for females. The per capita income for the city was $31,156. About 8.7% of families and 12.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.1% of those under age 18 and 12.9% of those age 65 or over.

Cambridge was ranked as one of the most liberal cities in America. Its residents jokingly refer to it as "The People's Republic of Cambridge." Its FY 2007 residential property tax rate, $7.48 per $1000 of assessed valuation, is one of the lowest in Massachusetts. Cambridge enjoys the highest possible bond credit rating, AAA, with all three Wall Street rating agencies.

Cambridge is noted for its diverse population, both racially and economically. Residents, known as Cantabrigians, range from affluent MITmarker and Harvardmarker professors to working-class families to immigrants. The first legal applications in America for same-sex marriage licenses were issued at Cambridge's City Hall.

Cambridge is also the birthplace of Thaimarker king Bhumibol Adulyadej , who is the world's longest reigning monarch at age 80 as well as the longest reigning monarch in Thai history. He is also the first king of a foreign country to be born in the United States.


On the national level, Cambridge is a part of Massachusetts's 8th congressional district, and has been represented since 1999 by Mike Capuano. The state's senior (Class II) member of the United States Senate, re-elected in 2008, is John Kerry. The state's Class I senate seat is vacant since August 25, 2009 following the death of longtime Senator Ted Kennedy and will be filled in a special election in early 2010.

On the state level, Cambridge is represented in six districts in the Massachusetts House of Representatives: the Twenty-fourth Middlesex (which includes parts of Belmont and Arlington), the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Middlesex (the latter which includes a portion of Somerville), the Twenty-ninth Middlesex (which includes a small part of Watertown), and the Eighth and Ninth Suffolk (both including parts of the City of Boston). The city is represented in the Massachusetts Senate as a part of the "First Suffolk and Middlesex" district (this contains parts of Boston, Revere and Winthrop each in Suffolk County); the "Middlesex, Suffolk and Essex" district, which includes Everett and Somerville, with Boston, Chelsea, and Revere of Suffolk, and Saugus in Essex; and the "Second Suffolk and Middlesex" district, containing parts of the City of Boston in Suffolk county, and Cambridge, Belmont and Watertown in Middlesex county. In addition to the Cambridge Police Department the city is patrolled by the Fifth (Brighton) Barracks of Troop H of the Massachusetts State Police Due however to close proximity, the city also practices functional cooperation with the Fourth (Boston) Barracks of Troop H also.

Cambridge has a city government led by a Mayor and nine-member City Council. There is also a six-member School Committee which functions along side the Superintendent of public schools. The councilors and school committee members are elected every two years using the single transferable vote (STV) system. Since the disbanding of the New York City Community School Boards in 2002, Cambridge's Council is now unusual in being the only governing body in the United States to still use STV. Once a laborious process that took several days to complete by hand, ballot sorting and calculations to determine the outcome of elections are now quickly performed by computer, after the ballots have been optically scanned.

The mayor is elected by the city councilors from amongst themselves, and serves as the chair of City Council meetings. The mayor also sits on the School Committee. However, the Mayor is not the Chief Executive of the City. Rather, the City Manager, who is appointed by the City Council, serves in that capacity.

Under the City's Plan E form of government the city council does not have the power to appoint or remove city officials who are under direction of the city manager. The city council and its individual members are also forbidden from giving orders to any subordinate of the city manager. believes that residents have no representation in the management of their own city.

Currently, Robert W. Healy is the City Manager; he has served in the position since 1981. The mayor is E. Denise Simmons. The city council consists of:
City Council

Fire department

Gerald R. Reardon is the chief of the Cambridge Fire Department. John J. Gelinas, the chief of operations, is in charge of day to day operation of the department. The Cambridge Fire Department is rated as a class 1 fire department by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), and is one of only 32 fire departments so rated, out of 37,000 departments in the United States. The other class 1 departments in New England are in Hartford, Connecticutmarker and Milford, Connecticutmarker. Class 1 signifies the highest level of fire protection according to various criteria.

The Cambridge Fire Department is a professional fire department which protects the city of Cambridge 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It operates out of eight city-wide firehouses in two divisions (downtown and uptown), and has a frontline fire apparatus fleet of 11 engine companies (two of which are reserve engines), five ladder companies (one of which is a reserve ladder), a tactical rescue unit, a "hazmat" unit, a dive rescue unit, two marine units, and two non-transporting paramedic ambulances.

County government

Cambridge is a county seat of Middlesex County, Massachusettsmarker, along with Lowellmarker. Though the county government was abolished in 1997, the county still exists as a geographical and political region. The employees of Middlesex County courts, jails, registries, and other county agencies now work directly for the state. At present the county's registrars of Deeds and Probate remain in Cambridge, however the Superior Court and District Attorney have had their base of operations transferred to Woburnmarker. Third District court has shifted operations to Medfordmarker, and the Sheriff's office for the county is still awaiting a near-term relocation.


Public education

The Cambridge Public School District encompasses twelve elementary schools that follow a variety of different educational systems and philosophies. All but one of the elementary schools extend up to the junior high school grades as well. The twelve elementary schools are:
  • Amigos School
  • Baldwin School
  • Cambridgeport School
  • Fletcher-Maynard Academy
  • Graham and Parks Alternative School
  • Haggerty School
  • Kennedy-Longfellow School
  • King Open School
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. School
  • Morse School (a Core Knowledge school)
  • Peabody School
  • Tobin School (a Montessori school)

The sole public high school in the Cambridge Public School District is the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.

In recent years the school system has struggled to increase its performance. In 2003 the high school came close to losing its educational accreditation when it was placed on probation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Then in 2005, the public school system's then Superintendent Thomas Fowler-Finn stated that the Cambridge school system ranked 311th out of the 373 Massachusetts school districts, on the statewide MCAS exams required for high school student graduation. Despite these setbacks the high school was taken off academic probation.

Outside of the main public schools are charter Schools including: Benjamin Banneker Charter School,, The Community Charter School of Cambridge located in East Cambridge, and Prospect Hill Academy, a charter school whose upper school is in Central Square, though it is not a part of the Cambridge Public School District.

Private education

There are also many private schools in the city including:

Higher education

At least 129 of the world's total 780 Nobel Prize winners have been, at some point in their careers, affiliated with universities in Cambridge.

Cambridge is also home to the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.


Manufacturing was an important part of the economy in the late 19th and early 20th century, but educational institutions are the city's biggest employers today. Both Harvardmarker and MITmarker together employ about 20,000. As a cradle of technological innovation, Cambridge was home to such legendary technology firms as Analog Devices, Akamai, General Radio , Lotus Development Corporation (now part of IBM), Polaroid, Thinking Machines, and VMware.

Over the years, these tech companies either have grown and moved away or declined and closed their businesses; see this list for more information. In 1996, Polaroid, Arthur D. Little, and Lotus were all top employers with over 1,000 employees in Cambridge, but declined or disappeared a few years later. In 2005, alongside Harvard and MIT, health care and biotechnology firms such as Genzyme, Biogen Idec, and Novartis dominate the city economy. Biotech firms are located around Kendall Square and East Cambridgemarker, which decades ago were the center of manufacturing. A number of biotechnology companies are also located in University Park at MIT, a new development in another former manufacturing area. None of the high technology firms that once dominated the economy was among the 25 largest employers in 2005, but by 2008 Akamai and ITA Software had grown to be among the largest employers. Many smaller start-ups and IT companies nonetheless remain as important employers.

Google maintains an office in Cambridge,. The city is also the New England headquarters for Miramax Films and Time Warner Cable.



Several major roads lead to Cambridge, including Route 2, Route 16 and the McGrath Highway . The Massachusetts Turnpike does not pass through Cambridge, but provides access by an exit in nearby Allstonmarker. Both U.S. Route 1 and I-93 also provide additional access on the eastern end of Cambridge at Leverett Circle in Bostonmarker. Route 2A runs the length of the city, chiefly along Massachusetts Avenue. The Charles River forms the southern border of Cambridge and is crossed by eleven bridges connecting Cambridge to Boston, eight of which are open to motorized road traffic.

Cambridge has an irregular street network because many of the roads date from the colonial era. Contrary to popular belief, the road system did not evolve from longstanding cow-paths. Roads connected various village settlements with each other and nearby towns, and were shaped by geographic features, most notably streams, hills, and swampy areas. Today, the major "squares" are typically connected by long, mostly straight roads, such as Massachusetts Avenue between Harvard Squaremarker and Central Squaremarker, or Hampshire Street between Kendall Squaremarker and Inman Squaremarker.

Mass transit

Cambridge has the Porter stopmarker on the regional Commuter Rail, the Lechmere stopmarker on the Green Line, and five stops on the Red Line. Alewife Stationmarker, the current terminus of the Red Line, has a large multi-story parking garage (at a rate of $7 per day as of 2009). The Harvard Bus Tunnel, under the Square, reduces traffic congestion on the surface, and connects to the Red Line underground. This tunnel was originally opened for streetcars in 1912, and served trackless trolleys and buses as the routes were converted. The tunnel was partially reconfigured when the Red Line was extended to Alewife in the early 1980s.


Cambridge has several bike paths, including one along the Charles River, the Minuteman Bikeway and the Linear Park connecting Alewife and the Somerville Community Pathmarker. Bike parking is common and there are bike lanes on many streets, although concerns have been expressed regarding the suitability of many of the lanes. From time to time, police target their traffic enforcement efforts towards bicyclists who do not follow the Rules of the Road for vehicles, especially going through red lights, failure to stop for pedestrians at unsignalized crosswalks, riding on the wrong side of the street or the wrong way on a one-way street, and riding without a headlight at night. In addition, Cambridge bans cycling on certain sections of sidewalk where pedestrian traffic is heavy.

While Bicycling Magazine has rated Boston as one of the worst cities in the nation for bicycling (In their words, for "lousy roads, scarce and unconnected bike lanes and bike-friendly gestures from City Hall that go nowhere – such as hiring a bike coordinator in 2001, only to cut the position two years later"), it has listed Cambridge as an honorable mention as one of the best and was called by the magazine "Boston's Great Hope." Cambridge has an active, official bicycle committee.


Walking is a popular activity in Cambridge. Per year 2000 data, of the communities in the U.S. with more than 100,000 residents, Cambridge has the highest percentage of commuters who walk to work. Cambridge receives a "Walk Score" of 100 out of 100 possible points. Cambridge's major historic squares have been recently changed into a modern walking landscape, which has sparked a traffic calming program based on the needs of pedestrians rather than of motorists.


Intercity transport is found in Boston, which is adjacent to Cambridge. Intercity buses and Amtrak stop at South Stationmarker in Boston, while Logan International Airportmarker is located in East Bostonmarker across Boston Harbor from the downtown area. The MBTA also has numerous subway stations in Cambridge and nearby cities and towns that are shared with the regional commuter rail lines it operates.

Points of interest



Harvard museums

MIT museums

Nature and outdoors


Public art

Cambridge has a large and varied collection of permanent public art, both on city property (managed by the Cambridge Arts Council), and on the campuses of Harvard and MIT. Temporary public artworks are displayed as part of the annual Cambridge River Festival on the banks of the Charles River, during winter celebrations in Harvard and Central Squares, and at university campus sites. An active tradition of street musicians and other performers in Harvard Square entertains an audience of tourists and local residents during the warmer months of the year. The performances are coordinated through a public process that has been developed collaboratively by the performers, city administrators, private organizations and business groups.


Sister cities

Zip codes

  • 02138—Harvard Square/West Cambridge
  • 02139—Central Square/Inman Square/MIT
  • 02140—Porter Square/North Cambridge
  • 02141—East Cambridge
  • 02142—Kendall Square


General references

  • History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Volume 1 (A-H), Volume 2 (L-W) compiled by Samuel Adams Drake, published 1879-1880.
  • Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge: Mid Cambridge, 1967, Cambridge Historical Commission, Cambridge, Mass. '[ISBN needed]
  • Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge: Cambridgeport, 1971 ISBN 0-262-53013-9, Cambridge Historical Commission, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge: Old Cambridge, 1973 ISBN 0-262-53014-7, Cambridge Historical Commission, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge: Northwest Cambridge, 1977 ISBN 0-262-53032-5, Cambridge Historical Commission, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge: East Cambridge, 1988 (revised) ISBN 0-262-53078-3, Cambridge Historical Commission, Cambridge, Mass.

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