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Kendall Square

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Kendall Square is a neighborhood in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., with the square itself at the intersection of Main Street and Broadway. It may also refer to the broad business district that is east of Portland Street, northwest of the Charles River, north of MIT and south of Binney Street. Kendall Square 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.


Map of Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA


Originally a salt marsh on the Charles River between Boston and Cambridge, Kendall Square has been an important transportation hub since the construction of the West Boston Bridge in 1793, which provided the first direct wagon route between the two settlements. By 1810, the Broad Canal had been dug, which would connect with a system of smaller canals in this East Cambridge seaport area.

The area became a major industrial center in the 19th century, and by the beginning of the 20th century was home to distilleries, electric power plants, soap and hosiery factories, and the Kendall Boiler and Tank Company. The square was named after the company, which in turn was named after one of its owners, Edward Kendall. The square itself consisted of the triangle defined by Main Street, Broadway, and the short stretch of Third Street between them, now the site of the Galaxy: Earth Sphere fountain and the surrounding plaza. When the Longfellow Bridge replaced the West Boston Bridge in 1907, it included provisions for a future rapid-transit subway link to Harvard Square and Boston (now the Red Line); the original Kendall subway station was opened in 1911. In 1916, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology moved to its new Cambridge campus, located south of Kendall Square between Main Street and Massachusetts Avenue. Since then, the proximity of MIT, whose campus eventually expanded into Kendall Square, has influenced much of the development of the area.

The genesis of Kendall Square's prominence as a technology hub was the Space Race, but it was a decidedly indirect route. When President John F. Kennedy made his bold claim that the United States would be the first nation on the Moon, he maneuvered to have several of the area's older industrial manufacturing and other dirty businesses removed by eminent domain. Kennedy's idea was to make Kendall Square the headquarters for the NASA mission control center, but his then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson had this proposed project moved to Houston, Texas. In 1964, Kendall Square got a much smaller NASA Electronic Research Center instead, but President Richard M. Nixon would shut it down only five years later.

Former Massachusetts Governor John A. Volpe, who served as US Secretary of Transportation (DOT) from 1969 to 1973, succeeded in getting the former NASA buildings rededicated to a new DOT research center, which was later named the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in his memory. For the next twenty years, other large parcels of Kendall Square, which had also been cleared in anticipation of a much larger NASA complex, were an unoccupied post-industrial wasteland.

In the 1990s and 2000s, the area between Kendall and the new CambridgeSide Galleria was transformed from an industrial area into a collection of office and research buildings, housing over 150 biotechnology and information technology firms as of 2011. In 1997, the surviving industrial buildings between Third, Binney, Fifth, and Rogers Streets were declared the Blake and Knowles Steam Pump Company National Register District.

Public transportation

Kendall/MIT Station on the MBTA Red Line, located directly in the Square, is noted for the interactive musical installation Kendall Band. MBTA Bus Routes 64, 68, 85 and CT2 also stop here, as well as the EZRide shuttle between Cambridgeport and North Station and a free shuttle to the CambridgeSide Galleria Mall.

Office developments

High-tech firms are lured by the proximity of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus on the south side of Main Street. MIT owns some of the commercial real estate in the square, and has been actively constructing space for new high-tech tenants as well as rebuilding its own facilities fronting Main Street. Nearby MIT facilities include the Stata Center and the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as many other buildings of the eastern end of the MIT campus.

The Cambridge Center office development is closest to the Kendall Square intersection. The Cambridge Innovation Center, a shared office space for startups and venture capital firms founded by Tim Rowe and currently occupied by almost 400 small startup businesses, is also close by at One Broadway. Many other high-tech firms are in two multi-building office complex parks, One Kendall Square and Technology Square, both located about half a mile west of the traditional location of Kendall Square. The One Kendall Square complex is located between Broadway and Binney Street (on the other side of which is the Kendall Square Theatre).

Additionally, the "@Kendall Square" development is located one block north of Kendall Square, and includes a mixed-use "live, work, play" community that weaves parks, an ice rink, a farmers market, and a recreational boating basin through a series of office, lab, residential and retail buildings. Buildings within the @Kendall Square development have won numerous design awards including the AIA California Council's 2004 Architectural Design Merit Award, the Boston Society of Architects' 2004 Interior Architecture/Interior Design Honor Award, the Chicago Athenaeum 2004 American Architecture Award, the AIA 2004 Excellence in Sustainable Design Award, and the AIA COTE 2004 Top Ten Green Projects Award.

As of 2014, the US Department of Transportation building complex and its surrounding parking lots and open land constitute one of the largest remaining areas not already subject to 21st century development. The Boston Globe published an article describing possible plans to repurpose the 15 acres (6.1 ha) DOT property for future redevelopment. This would require federal approval for relocation of the DOT center, probably to a more compact building with underground parking. A related article described some ideas on how to use the DOT land more effectively.

The MIT Press Bookstore was a regional attraction in the heart of Kendall Square, offering a complete selection of Press titles for browsing and retail purchase, plus a large selection of complementary works from other academic and trade publishers, including magazines and academic journals. Starting in October 2016, the Bookstore has been temporarily relocated to Central Square, just north of the MIT Museum, because of plans for extensive construction on its former site. Once construction is completed, the Bookstore is planned to return to a site adjacent to a subway entrance to Kendall/MIT Station. In addition, the MIT Museum will appear in Kendall Square for the first time, at another site nearby the subway entrance.

Businesses and organizations

Several hotels are located in Kendall Square, including the Boston Marriott Cambridge, the Cambridge Residence Inn, and the Kendall Hotel. Several more hotels are located within walking distance. There have also been several large condominium developments.

Restaurants in the area include The Friendly Toast, Cambridge Brewing Company, and Legal Sea Foods, popular locations for business gatherings. A food plaza on the first floor of the Marriott Hotel, and food trucks parked in lots near the corner of Main and Vassar Streets (weekdays lunch only), sell fast food at low prices, with a variety of cuisines (Asian, Italian, Mexican, etc.) to choose from.

The Kendall Square Association is the official business and civic development organization for Kendall Square, and was formed by approximately 80 organizations in February 2009. Its motto is "We share more than a future, we share a sidewalk".

Other businesses and organizations include:

Resident diplomatic missions

  • British Consulate-General – One Broadway
  • References

    Kendall Square Wikipedia