| United States|
2.9% (Feb 2015)
7.13 sq mi
David P. Maher
| Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lesley University, Cambridge College, Hult International Business School|
Harvard Square, Harvard Museum of Natural History, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Longfellow House–Washingtons Headquarters National Historic Site, Mount Auburn Cemetery
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Boston metropolitan area, situated directly north of the city of Boston proper, across the Charles River. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the towns founders. Cambridge is home to two of the worlds most prominent universities, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Cambridge has also been home to Radcliffe College, once one of the leading colleges for women in the United States before it merged with Harvard. According to the 2010 Census, the citys population was 105,162. It is the fifth most populous city in the state, behind Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and Lowell. Cambridge was one of the two seats of Middlesex County prior to the abolition of county government in 1997; Lowell was the other.
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. The original village site is in the heart of todays 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 (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 (originally Cambridge Village, then Newtown) in 1688, Lexington (Cambridge Farms) in 1712, and both West Cambridge (originally Menotomy) and Brighton (Little Cambridge) in 1807. Part of West Cambridge joined the new town of Belmont in 1859, and the rest of West Cambridge was renamed Arlington in 1867; Brighton was annexed by Boston in 1874. 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. The Newe Towne (later named Cambridge) was chosen for the site of the new college by the Great and General Court (the Massachusetts legislature)...primarily, according to testimony by Cotton Mather, to be near the highly respected, popular Puritan preacher Thomas Shepard. 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 university in Cambridge, England. Thomas Shepard, the minister of Cambridges church...Harvards first president (Henry Dunster)... its first benefactor (John Harvard)... and the first schoolmaster (Nathaniel Eaton) 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 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" (todays 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 todays 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 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. 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 (todays Broadway and Concord Ave.), the Middlesex Turnpike (Hampshire St. and Massachusetts Ave. northwest of Porter Square), and what are todays 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 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 areas culture, sources of income, and the national origins of the residents. The citys 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 citys 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 Carters 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. Confectionary 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 Confectionary 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 citys life and culture. When Radcliffe College was established in 1879 the town became a mecca for some of the nations most academically talented female students. Also, the move of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from Boston in 1916 ensured Cambridges status as an intellectual center of the United States.
After the 1950s, the citys 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. However, the city continues to be home to many startups as well as a thriving biotech industry. 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. 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 2012, Cambridges 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.
Manufacturing was an important part of the economy in the late 19th and early 20th century, but educational institutions are the citys biggest employers today. Harvard and MIT together employ about 20,000. As a cradle of technological innovation, Cambridge was home to technology firms Analog Devices, Akamai, Bolt, Beranek, and Newman (BBN Technologies) (now part of Raytheon), General Radio (later GenRad), Lotus Development Corporation (now part of IBM), Polaroid, Symbolics, and Thinking Machines.
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
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 Worlds 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.