Cambridge, Massachusetts facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
"Literis Antiquis Novis Institutis Decora." It can be translated as: "Distinguished for Classical Learning and New Institutions."
Location in Middlesex County (pink), Massachusetts
|• Type||Council-City Manager|
|• Total||7.13 sq mi (18.47 km2)|
|• Land||6.43 sq mi (16.65 km2)|
|• Water||0.70 sq mi (1.81 km2)|
|Elevation||40 ft (12 m)|
|• Density||17,059.7/sq mi (6,586.8/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (Eastern)|
02138, 02139, 02140, 02141, 02142
|Area code(s)||617 / 857|
|GNIS feature ID||0617365|
Situated directly north of the city of Boston, across the Charles River, it was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), two of the world's most prestigious universities, are located in Cambridge, as was Radcliffe College, one of the leading colleges for women in the United States until it merged with Harvard.
Kendall Square in Cambridge has been called "the most innovative square mile on the planet", in reference to the high concentration of entrepreneurial start-ups and quality of innovation which have emerged in the vicinity of the square since 2010.
- See also: Timeline of Cambridge, Massachusetts
The site for what would become Cambridge was chosen in December 1630, because it was located safely upriver from Boston Harbor, which made it easily defensible from attacks by enemy ships. Thomas Dudley, his daughter Anne Bradstreet, and her husband Simon, were among the first settlers of the town. 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 and a single word Newtowne by 1638. Located at the first convenient Charles River crossing west of Boston, Newe Towne was one of a number of towns (including Boston, Dorchester, Watertown, and Weymouth), founded by the 700 original Puritan colonists of the Massachusetts Bay Colony under governor John Winthrop. Its first preacher was Thomas Hooker, who led many of its original inhabitants west to found the Connecticut Colony; before leaving, however, they sold their plots to more recent immigrants from England. The original village site is in the heart of today's Harvard Square. 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 and Winthrop Streets, then at the edge of a salt marsh and since filled. The town included a much larger area than the present city, with various outlying parts becoming independent towns over the years: Cambridge Village (later Newtown and now Newton) in 1688, Cambridge Farms (now Lexington) in 1712 or 1713, and Little or South Cambridge (now Brighton) and Menotomy or West Cambridge (now Arlington) in 1807. In the late 19th century, various schemes for annexing Cambridge itself to the city of Boston were pursued and rejected.
In 1636, the Newe College (later renamed Harvard College after benefactor John Harvard) was founded by the colony to train ministers. Newe Towne was chosen for the site of the college by the Great and General Court (the Massachusetts legislature) primarily—according to Cotton Mather—to be near the popular and highly respected Puritan preacher Thomas Shepard. In May 1638 the name of the settlement was changed to Cambridge in honor of the university in Cambridge, England. Hooker and Shepard, Newtowne's ministers, and the college's first president, major benefactor, and first schoolmaster were all Cambridge alumni, as was the colony's governor 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 the corporation which still governs 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). Coming up from Virginia, George Washington took command of the volunteer American soldiers camped on Cambridge Common on July 3, 1775, now reckoned the birthplace of the U.S. Army. Most of the Tory estates were confiscated after the Revolution. On January 24, 1776, Henry Knox arrived with artillery captured from Fort Ticonderoga, which enabled Washington to drive the British army out of Boston.
Between 1790 and 1840, Cambridge began to grow rapidly, with the construction of the West Boston Bridge in 1792, that connected Cambridge directly to Boston, making it no longer necessary to travel eight miles (13 km) through the Boston Neck, Roxbury, and Brookline 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-19th century, Cambridge was the center of a literary revolution when it gave the country a new identity through poetry and literature. Cambridge was home to some of the famous Fireside Poets—so called because their poems would often be read aloud by families in front of their evening fires. The Fireside Poets—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes—were highly popular and influential in their day.
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 Square), and what are today's Cambridge, Main, and Harvard Streets were roads to connect various areas of Cambridge to the bridges. In addition, the town was connected to the Boston & Maine Railroad, leading to the development of Porter Square as well as the creation of neighboring town Somerville from the formerly rural parts of Charlestown.
Cambridge was incorporated as a city in 1846. This was despite noticeable tensions between East Cambridge, Cambridgeport, and Old Cambridge that stemmed from differences in each area's culture, sources of income, and the national origins of the residents. The city's commercial center began to shift from Harvard Square to Central Square, which became the downtown of the city around this time. 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 Brook; the ice-cutting industry launched by Frederic Tudor on Fresh Pond; 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 decades, 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 Edward 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 today. There is none on public display in Cambridge, but there is a large collection in the Toledo Museum of Art. There are also a few pieces in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and in the Sandwich Glass Museum on Cape Cod.
By 1920, Cambridge was one of the main industrial cities of New England, with nearly 120,000 residents. Among the largest businesses located in Cambridge during the period of industrialization 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. Next door was the Atheneum Press. Confectionery and snack manufacturers in the Cambridgeport-Area 4-Kendall corridor included the Kennedy Biscuit Factory (later part of Nabisco and originator of the Fig Newton), Necco, Squirrel Brands), George Close Company (1861–1930s), Daggett Chocolate (1892–1960s, recipes bought by Necco), Fox Cross Company (1920–1980, originator of the Charleston Chew, and now part of Tootsie Roll Industries), Kendall Confectionery Company, and James O. Welch (1927–1963, originator of Junior Mints, Sugar Daddies, Sugar Mamas and Sugar Babies, now part of Tootsie Roll Industries). In the 2010s, only the Cambridge Brands subsidiary of Tootsie Roll Industries remains in town, still manufacturing Junior Mints in the old Welch factory on Main Street. The Blake and Knowles Steam Pump Company (1886) and the Kendall Boiler and Tank Company (1880, now in Chelmsford, Massachusetts) and the New England Glass Company (1818–1878) were among the industrial manufacturers in what are now the Kendall Square and East Cambridge neighborhoods.
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. When Radcliffe College was established in 1879 the town became a mecca for some of the nation's most academically talented female students. Also, the move of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from Boston in 1916 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 startups, 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. The city continues to be home to many startups. Kendall Square continued to be a major software hub through the dot-com boom and today hosts offices of major technology companies including Google, Microsoft, Amazon.com, and Akamai (headquarters).
In 1976, Harvard's plans to start experiments with recombinant DNA led to a three-month moratorium and a citizen review panel. In the end, Cambridge decided to allow such experiments but passed safety regulations in 1977. This led to regulatory certainty and acceptance when Biogen opened a lab in 1982, in contrast to hostility which caused the Genetic Institute (a Harvard spinoff) to abandon Somerville and Boston for Cambridge. The biotech and pharmaceutical industries have since thrived in Cambridge, which now includes headquarters for Biogen and Genzyme; and laboratories for Novartis, Teva, Takeda, Alnylam, Ironwood, Catabasis, Moderna Therapeutics, Editas Medicine; and support companies such as Cytel; and many smaller companies.
By the end of the 20th 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.
Until recently, Cambridge's mix of amenities and proximity to Boston has kept housing prices relatively stable despite the bursting of the United States housing bubble. Cambridge has been a sanctuary city since 1985 and reaffirmed its status as such in 2006.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Cambridge has a total area of 7.1 square miles (18 km2), of which 6.4 square miles (17 km2) is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2) (9.82%) is water.
Cambridge is located in eastern Massachusetts, bordered by:
- the city of Boston to the south (across the Charles River) and east
- the city of Somerville to the north
- the town of Arlington to the northwest
- the town of Belmont and
- the city of Watertown to the west
The border between Cambridge and the neighboring city of Somerville passes through densely populated neighborhoods which are connected by the MBTA Red Line. Some of the main squares, Inman, Porter, and to a lesser extent, Harvard and Lechmere, are very close to the city line, as are Somerville's Union and Davis Squares.
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 a neighborhood center. These include:
- Kendall Square, formed by the junction of Broadway, Main Street, and Third Street, is also known as Technology Square, a name shared with an office and laboratory building cluster in the neighborhood. Just over the Longfellow Bridge from Boston, at the eastern end of the MIT campus, it is served by the Kendall/MIT station on the MBTA Red Line subway. 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 Cambridge Innovation Center, a large co-working space, is located in Kendall Square at 1 Broadway. The "Cambridge Center" office complex is located in Kendall Square, and not at the actual center of Cambridge. The "One Kendall Square" complex is nearby, but—confusingly—not actually in Kendall Square.
- Central Square, formed by the junction of Massachusetts Avenue, Prospect Street, and Western Avenue, is well known for its wide variety of ethnic restaurants. 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 the Central Station stop on the MBTA Red Line subway. Lafayette Square, formed by the junction of Massachusetts Avenue, Columbia Street, Sidney Street, and Main Street, is considered part of the Central Square area. Cambridgeport is south of Central Square along Magazine Street and Brookline Street.
- Harvard Square, formed by the junction of Massachusetts Avenue, Brattle Street, and JFK Street. This is the primary site of Harvard University, and is a major Cambridge shopping area. It is served by a Red Line station. 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 Common, while the neighborhood north of Harvard and east of Massachusetts Avenue is known as Agassiz in honor of the famed scientist Louis Agassiz.
- Porter Square, 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 Somerville. It is served by the Porter Square Station, 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 Square, at the junction of Cambridge and Hampshire streets in Mid-Cambridge. Inman Square is home to many diverse restaurants, bars, music venues and boutiques. 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, at Lechmere Station.
The residential neighborhoods in Cambridge border, but are not defined by the squares. These neighborhoods include:
- East Cambridge (Area 1) is bordered on the north by the Somerville 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.
- MIT 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 Somerville border, on the south and west by Hampshire Street, and on the east by the Grand Junction Railroad tracks. Referred to as "Mid-Block".
- The Port, formerly known as 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". In October 2015, the Cambridge City Council officially renamed Area 4 as "The Port".
- 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 Somerville 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 (Harvard North) (Area 8) is bordered on the north by the Somerville border, on the south and east by Kirkland Street, and on the west by Massachusetts Avenue.
- Neighborhood Nine or Radcliffe (formerly called Peabody, until a recent relocation of a neighborhood school by that name) 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 within the area 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 Watertown 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 (formerly known as Tory Row) and Huron Village.
- North Cambridge (Area 11) is bordered on the north by the Arlington and Somerville borders, on the south by railroad tracks, on the west by the Belmont border, and on the east by the Somerville 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 Belmont border.
- Strawberry Hill (Area 13) is bordered on the north by Fresh Pond, on the south by the Watertown border, on the west by the Belmont border, and on the east by railroad tracks.
|Climate data for Cambridge, MA|
|Average high °F (°C)||36.0
|Average low °F (°C)||22.0
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.
|Black or African American||11.7%||13.5%||6.8%||4.3%|
|Hispanic or Latino (of any race)||7.6%||6.8%||1.9%||n/a|
|Two or more races||4.3%||n/a||n/a||n/a|
As of the census of 2010, there were 105,162 people, 44,032 households, and 17,420 families residing in the city. The population density was 16,354.9 people per square mile (6,314.6/km²). There were 47,291 housing units at an average density of 7,354.7 per square mile (2,840.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 66.60% White, 11.70% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 15.10% Asian (3.7% Chinese, 1.4% Asian Indian, 1.2% Korean, 1.0% Japanese), 0.01% Pacific Islander, 2.10% from other races, and 4.30% from two or more races. 7.60% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race (1.6% Puerto Rican, 1.4% Mexican, 0.6% Dominican, 0.5% Colombian, 0.5% Salvadoran, 0.4% Spaniard). Non-Hispanic Whites were 62.1% of the population in 2010, down from 89.7% in 1970. An individual resident of Cambridge is known as a Cantabrigian.
In 2010, there were 44,032 households out of which 16.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 28.9% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 60.4% were non-families. 40.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.00 and the average family size was 2.76.
In the city, the population was spread out with 13.3% of the population 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 30.5 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[update]). 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 has been ranked as one of the most liberal cities in America. Locals living in and near the city jokingly refer to it as "The People's Republic of Cambridge." For 2016, the residential property tax rate in Cambridge was $6.99 per $1,000. Cambridge enjoys the highest possible bond credit rating, AAA, with all three Wall Street rating agencies.
In 2000, 11.0% of city residents were of Irish ancestry; 7.2% were of English, 6.9% Italian, 5.5% West Indian and 5.3% German ancestry. 69.4% spoke only English at home, while 6.9% spoke Spanish, 3.2% Chinese or Mandarin, 3.0% Portuguese, 2.9% French Creole, 2.3% French, 1.5% Korean, and 1.0% Italian.
- See also: List of Massachusetts locations by per capita income
Data is from the 2009–2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
|Rank||ZIP Code (ZCTA)||Per capita
Arts and culture
- Harvard Art Museum, including the Busch-Reisinger Museum, a collection of Germanic art the Fogg Art Museum, a comprehensive collection of Western art, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, a collection of Middle East and Asian art
- Harvard Museum of Natural History, including the Glass Flowers collection
- Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard
- Semitic Museum, Harvard
- MIT Museum
- List Visual Arts Center, MIT
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. Experimental forms of public artistic and cultural expression include the Central Square World's Fair, the Somerville-based annual Honk! Festival, and If This House Could Talk, a neighborhood art and history event. 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. The Cambridge public library contains four Works Progress Administration murals, completed in 1935, by Elizabeth Tracy Montminy: Religion, Fine Arts, History of Books and Paper, and The Development of the Printing Press.
Despite intensive urbanization during the late 19th century and 20th century, Cambridge has several historic buildings, including some dating to the 17th century. The city also contains an abundance of innovative contemporary architecture, largely built by Harvard and MIT.
Notable historic buildings in the city include:
- The Asa Gray House (1810)
- Austin Hall, Harvard University (1882–84)
- Cambridge City Hall (1888–89)
- Cambridge Public Library (1888)
- Christ Church, Cambridge (1761)
- Cooper-Frost-Austin House (1689–1817)
- Elmwood House (1767), residence of the President of Harvard University
- First Church of Christ, Scientist (1924–30)
- The First Parish in Cambridge (1833)
- Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church (1891–93)
- Harvard Lampoon Building (1909)
- The Hooper-Lee-Nichols House (1685–1850)
- Longfellow House–Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site (1759), former home of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and headquarters of George Washington
- The Memorial Church of Harvard University (1932)
- Memorial Hall, Harvard University (1870–77)
- Middlesex County Courthouse (1814–48)
- Urban Rowhouse (1875)
- O'Reilly Spite House (1908), built to spite a neighbor who would not sell his adjacent land
- Baker House dormitory, MIT, by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, one of only two buildings by Aalto in the US
- Harvard Graduate Center/Harkness Commons, by The Architects Collaborative (TAC, with Walter Gropius)
- Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard, the only building in North America by Le Corbusier
- Harvard's Science Center, Holyoke Center and Peabody Terrace, by Catalan architect and Dean of Harvard Graduate School of Design, Josep Lluís Sert
- Kresge Auditorium, MIT, by Eero Saarinen
- MIT Chapel, by Eero Saarinen
- Design Research Building, by Benjamin Thompson and Associates
- American Academy of Arts and Sciences, by Kallmann McKinnell and Wood, also architects of Boston City Hall
- Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard, one of the few buildings in the US by James Stirling, winner of the Pritzker Prize
- Harvard Art Museums, renovation and major expansion of Fogg Museum building, completed in 2014 by Renzo Piano
- Stata Center, MIT, by Frank Gehry
- Simmons Hall, MIT, by Steven Holl
The city has an active music scene, from classical performances to the latest popular bands. Beyond performances at the colleges and universities, there are many venues in Cambridge including: The Middle East, Club Passim, The Plough and Stars, and the Nameless Coffeehouse.
in the 1980s
MIT Main Campus Aerial.jpg|thumb|Aerial view of part of MIT's main campus Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts.JPG|thumb|right|The 1888 part of the Cambridge Public Library Cambridge Skyline.jpg|thumb|Buildings of Kendall Square, center of Cambridge's biotech economy, seen from the Charles River Alewife Brook Reservation.jpg|thumb|Alewife Brook Reservation </gallery>
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