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City of Cambridge, Maryland
Official seal of City of Cambridge, Maryland
"Living, Working, Relaxing...And Loving It"
Location in Dorchester County and the state of Maryland
Location in Dorchester County and the state of Maryland
Country United States
State Maryland
County Dorchester
 • Total 12.64 sq mi (32.74 km2)
 • Land 10.34 sq mi (26.78 km2)
 • Water 2.30 sq mi (5.96 km2)
20 ft (6 m)
 • Total 12,326
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,192.1/sq mi (460.3/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code 410 Exchanges: 221,228,901
FIPS code 24-12400
GNIS feature ID 0589879
Website City of Cambridge, Maryland

Cambridge is a city in Dorchester County, Maryland, United States. The population was 12,326 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Dorchester County and the county's largest municipality. Cambridge is the fourth most populous city in Maryland's Eastern Shore region, after Salisbury, Elkton and Easton.


Cambridge Municipal Building
Cambridge Municipal Building

Settled by English colonists in 1684, Cambridge is one of the oldest colonial cities in Maryland. At the time of English colonization, the Algonquian-speaking Choptank Indians were already living along the river of the same name. During the colonial years, the English colonists developed farming on the Eastern Shore. The largest plantations were devoted first to tobacco, and then mixed farming. Planters bought enslaved Africans to farm tobacco and mixed farming. The town was a trading center for the area. The town pier was the center for slave trading for the region, a sad history documented well in historical markers throughout the town center. It was incorporated officially in 1793, and occupies part of the former Choptank Indian Reservation. Cambridge was named after the town and county in England. The town became a stop on the underground railroad, which had an extensive network of safe houses for slaves escaping to the north.

Cambridge developed food processing industries in the late 19th century, canning oysters, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. Industrial growth in Cambridge was led by the Phillips Packing Company, which eventually grew to become the area's largest employer. The company won contracts with the Department of Defense during the First and Second World wars that aided its growth. At its peak, it employed as many as 10,000 workers. Changing tastes brought about a decline in business leading Phillips to downsize its operations. By the early 1960s the company ceased operations altogether. This led to widescale unemployment and added to the city's growing social problems.

During the period from 1962 until 1967, Cambridge was a center of Civil Rights Movement protests as blacks sought access to work and housing. They also wanted to end racial segregation of schools and other public facilities. Race-related violence erupted in Cambridge in 1963 and 1967, and forces of the Maryland National Guard were assigned to the city to assist local authorities with peace-keeping efforts. The leader of the movement was Gloria Richardson. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, public segregation in Cambridge officially ended.

In 2002, the city's economy was boosted by jobs and tourism associated with the opening of the 400-room Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay resort. This resort includes a golf course, spa, and marina. The resort was the site of the 2007 US House Republican Conference, which included an address by U.S. President George W. Bush.

Cambridge was designated a Maryland Main Street community on July 1, 2003. Cambridge Main Street is a comprehensive downtown revitalization process created by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. It plans to strengthen the economic potential of select cities around the state. The initiative has led to enhancements of its heritage tourism attractions. Together with other cities on the Eastern Shore, Cambridge is attracting more tourists. It has revitalized its downtown business district, part of which was designated a historical district in 1990.

Four different teams in the old Eastern Shore Baseball League—the Canners, Cardinals, Clippers, and Dodgers—were located in Cambridge.

The Brinsfield I Site, Cambridge Historic District, Wards I and III, Christ Episcopal Church and Cemetery, Dale's Right, Dorchester County Courthouse and Jail, Glasgow, Goldsborough House, LaGrange, Annie Oakley House, Patricia (log canoe), Pine Street Neighborhood Historic District, Rock Methodist Episcopal Church, Stanley Institute, Sycamore Cottage, and Yarmouth are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Cambridge is located at 38°33′59″N 76°4′37″W / 38.56639°N 76.07694°W / 38.56639; -76.07694Coordinates: 38°33′59″N 76°4′37″W / 38.56639°N 76.07694°W / 38.56639; -76.07694.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.64 square miles (32.74 km2), of which, 10.34 square miles (26.78 km2) is land and 2.30 square miles (5.96 km2) is water.

Cambridge is on the southern bank of the Choptank River.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen climate classification system, Cambridge has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 1,862
1870 1,642 −11.8%
1880 2,262 37.8%
1890 4,192 85.3%
1900 5,747 37.1%
1910 6,407 11.5%
1920 7,467 16.5%
1930 8,544 14.4%
1940 10,102 18.2%
1950 10,351 2.5%
1960 12,239 18.2%
1970 11,595 −5.3%
1980 11,703 0.9%
1990 11,514 −1.6%
2000 10,911 −5.2%
2010 12,326 13.0%
2015 (est.) 12,507 1.5%
U.S. Decennial Census
2012 estimate

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 12,326 people, 5,144 households, and 3,040 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,192.1 inhabitants per square mile (460.3/km2). There were 6,228 housing units at an average density of 602.3 per square mile (232.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 47.9% African American, 45.9% White, 0.4% Native American, 1.3% Asian, 2.0% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.9% of the population.

There were 5,144 households of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.0% were married couples living together, 24.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.1% had a male householder with no wife present, and 40.9% were non-families. 34.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.31 and the average family size was 2.93.

The median age in the city was 37.6 years. 24.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 9.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.9% were from 25 to 44; 25.6% were from 45 to 64; and 15.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 45.8% male and 54.2% female.

Popular Culture

Cambridge was the inspiration of the fictional town Patamoke in James Michener's novel, Chesapeake. In the book, Patamoke is located on a fictitious promontory on the Choptank River, opposite of Cambridge's actual location.

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