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Wikipedia: Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Cambridge, Massachusetts
Official seal of Cambridge, Massachusetts
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts

Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts

Coordinates: 42°22′30″N 71°06′22″W / 42.375, -71.10611
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Middlesex
Settled 1630
Incorporated 1636
– Type Council-City Manager
– Mayor E. Denise Simmons
– City Manager Robert W. Healy
– Total 7.1 sq mi (18.5 km²)
– Land 6.4 sq mi (16.7 km²)
– Water 0.7 sq mi (1.8 km²)
Elevation 40 ft (12 m)
Population (2000)
– Total 101,354
– Density 15,766.1/sq mi (6,087.3/km²)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
– Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 02138, 02139, 02140, 02141, 02142
Area code(s) 617 / 857
FIPS code 25-11000
GNIS feature ID 0617365

Cambridge, Massachusetts is a city in the Greater Boston area of Massachusetts, United States. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England. Cambridge is most famous for the two prominent universities that call it home: Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 101,355. It is the fifth most populous city in the state.

Cambridge is a county seat of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, along with Lowell. 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.



Cambridge was established in 1630 as the town of Newetowne (written in some accounts as Newe Towne). Located at the first convenient Charles River crossing west of Boston, Newetowne 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 today’s Harvard Square. The marketplace where farmers brought in crops to sell from surrounding towns survives today as the small park at the corner of 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,[1] Lexington (Cambridge Farms) in 1712, and both Arlington (originally Menotomy) and Brighton (Little Cambridge) in 1807. Brighton was later annexed by Boston.

In 1636 Harvard College was founded by the colony to train ministers and Newetowne was chosen for its site by Thomas Dudley. In May 1638[2] the name was changed to Cambridge in honor of the university in Cambridge, England.[3]

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 Ticonderoga, which enabled Washington to drive the British army out of Boston.

A map of Cambridge from 1873.

A map of Cambridge from 1873.

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. 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, 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.

Beautiful 1852 Map of Boston area showing Cambridge and Rail lines.

Beautiful 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 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 moved 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.

By 1920, Cambridge was one of the main industrial cities of New England, 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 Technology from Boston in 1912 ensured Cambridge’s status as an intellectual center of the United States.

After the 1950s, the city population began to decline slowly, as families tended to be replaced by single people and young couples, and by the end of the twentieth century, Cambridge had one of the most expensive housing markets in the Northeastern United States. 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.

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. As of 2006, its mix of amenities and proximity to Boston have kept housing prices relatively stable.


As of the census[4] 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 5th most densely populated city in the U.S.[5] 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 Indian 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 firs 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. 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.[6] 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.[7]

Cambridge is noted for its diverse population, both racially and economically. Residents, known as Cantabrigians, range from affluent MIT and Harvard 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.[8]

The city and its universities, particularly Harvard, have strong leftist traditions, with some (typically outside the city) even referring to the city as the PRC, or the “People’s Republic of Cambridge” and Harvard as the “Kremlin on the Charles”.[citation needed] Cambridge is also known as “Boston’s Left Bank” (although it is not part of the city of Boston).


Harvard Square

Harvard Square

Cambridge has also 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 Square, formed by the junction of Broadway, Main Street, and Third Street. Just over the Longfellow Bridge from Boston, at the eastern end of the MIT campus, it is served by an MBTA Red Line station. 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 Square, formed by the junction of Massachusetts Avenue, Prospect Street, and Western Avenue. This is perhaps the closest thing Cambridge has to a downtown, 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 station. 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 Square, formed by the junction of Massachusetts Avenue, Brattle Street, and JFK Street. This is the primary site of Harvard University, the oldest university 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 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.
  • Inman Square, 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 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 railroad tracks.
  • 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 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 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 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 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.
  • Radcliffe/Avon Hill/Neighborhood 9 (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 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 and Huron Village.
  • North Cambridge (Area 11) is bordered on the north by the Arlington border and partially the Somerville border, 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, also known as West Cambridge (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.

At the western edge of Cambridge, Mount Auburn Cemetery 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.


Cambridge is located at 42°22′25″N, 71°6′38″W.[9]

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 city of Boston on its south (across the Charles River) and east
  • the city of Somerville and
  • the town of Arlington to its north
  • the city of Watertown and
  • the town of Belmont to its 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, are very close to the city line, as are Somerville’s Union and Davis Squares.

The end of rent control in the late 1990s prompted many Cambridge renters to move to housing that was more affordable, in Somerville and other communities.

The two cities, in addition to proximity, have a number of other similarities:

  • Densely populated urban/commercial/residential – they are two of the top ten highest population density cities in the country.
  • Rapid turnover – in each city, people who have been living there for less than ten years make up a solid majority of total residents.
  • Both primarily served by the MBTA Red Line subway. A planned extension of the Green Line from its current terminus at the eastern edge of Cambridge into east Somerville will further link the two cities.
  • College students and recent graduates make up a remarkably high percentage of the residents (owing at least partially to the presence of Harvard, MIT and Tufts), even for the Boston area.
  • Politically liberal, even by Massachusetts standards
  • Both cities have also joined together in forming the Cambridge Somerville Alliance


See also: List of mayors of Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge City Hall

Cambridge City Hall

Cambridge has a 9-member City Council, and a 6-member School Committee. The councilors and school committee members are elected every two years using the single transferable vote (STV) system.[10] 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.[11] Once a laborious process that took several days to complete by hand, vote counting is now done by computer.

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.

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:[12]

City Council
  • E. Denise Simmons, the current mayor
  • Brian Murphy, the current vice mayor
  • Henrietta Davis
  • Marjorie C. Decker
  • Craig A. Kelley
  • David Maher
  • Kenneth Reeves
  • Sam Seidel
  • Timothy J. Toomey, Jr.

Fire Department

Chief of Department Gerald R. Reardon

Chief of Operations John J. Gelinas

The Cambridge Fire Department is rated as a class 1 fire department by the Insurance Services Office (ISO). Of the more than 37,000 fire departments subject to ISO survey in this country, only 32 are rated as Class 1. In the 6 state New England region only two fire departments, Hartford, CT and Cambridge, MA, are rated as Class 1.

The latest revision of the ISO’s Fire Suppression Rating Schedule classifies fire protection into 10 categories, Class 1 recognizing the highest level of fire protection and Class 10 recognizing the lowest or no level of fire protection. The Fire Suppression Rating Schedule includes three major sections: Fire Alarm; Fire Department; and Water System. The Fire Alarm section includes the means for the public to report a fire, how the fire department receives the alarm of fire, and how firefighters and companies are alerted and dispatched to the fire. The Fire Department section considers apparatus, equipment, staffing, automatic and mutual aid, prefire planning, and training. The interrelationship of engines, trucks, rescues, and other companies is also considered. The Water System section considers the supply works, main capacity to deliver fire flow, distribution of hydrants, hydrant size, type, and installation, hydrant inspection and condition, and alternative water supplies. Per the 1980 revision of the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule, fire alarm is weighted as 10%, water supply as 40%, and the fire department as 50% of the total survey rating evaluation.


Higher education

A view from Boston of Harvard's Weld Boathouse and Cambridge. The Charles River is in the foreground.

A view from Boston of Harvard’s Weld Boathouse and Cambridge. The Charles River is in the foreground.

  • Cambridge College
  • Episcopal Divinity School
  • Harvard University
  • Hult International Business School
  • Lesley University
  • Longy School of Music
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Weston Jesuit School of Theology

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.


The public school system of the Cambridge Public School District encompasses twelve elementary schools, all but one of which extend up to the junior high school grades as well; the elementary schools follow a variety of different educational systems and philosophies, including one Montessori school and one Core Knowledge school.[13] The one high school of the Cambridge school system is the Cambridge Rindge and Latin school.

Prospect Hill Academy, a charter school whose upper school is in Central Square, is also a public school, though not a part of the Cambridge Public School District.

There are many private schools in the city, serving a variety of needs of both parents and students, including:

  • Boston Archdiocesan Choir School (BACS)
  • Buckingham Browne & Nichols (BB&N)
  • Cambridge Montessori School
  • Cambridge Friends School
  • Fayerweather Street School (FSS)
  • German International School Boston (GISBOS)
  • International School of Boston (ISB, formerly École Bilingue)
  • Matignon High School
  • North Cambridge Catholic High School
  • Shady Hill School
  • St. Peter School

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


Although manufacturing was an important part of the late 19th and early 20th-century Cambridge economy, today long-established educational institutions are its biggest employers; Harvard employs over 10,000 people and MIT over 9,500. As a famous cradle of technological innovation, Cambridge is also home to legendary technology firms, including Analog Devices, VMware, Akamai, BBN, Lotus Development Corporation (now part of IBM), Polaroid, Thinking Machines, and Google.

Over the years, as companies have grown, prospered, and then either moved away or gone out of business (see this list of employers for more information), Cambridge’s large-scale employment has shifted tremendously. In 1996, Polaroid, Arthur D. Little, and Lotus were all top employers with over 1,000 people in Cambridge, and all declined or disappeared a few years later. As of 2005, alongside Harvard and MIT, health care and biotechnology dominate the Cambridge economy, with Genzyme, Biogen Idec, and Novartis the biggest players. Biotech’s geographical locus is Kendall Square and East Cambridge, the center of much of the city’s manufacturing a century before. A number of biotechnology companies are also located in University Park at MIT, a new development in another former manufacturing area. None of the computer-industry firms that once dominated the Cambridge economy are top-20 employers as of 2005. However, many smaller start-ups and entrepreneurial companies remain an important part of the Cambridge employment scene.


See also: Boston transportation


Several major roads lead to Cambridge, including Route 2, Route 16 and the McGrath Highway (Route 28). The Massachusetts Turnpike does not pass through Cambridge, but provides access by an exit in nearby Allston. 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 Square and Central Square, or Hampshire Street between Kendall Square and Inman Square.

It can be hard to find a place to park in Cambridge. Main streets have metered parking. Parking on most other streets is restricted to residents with a sticker, even in areas without a parking shortage. Nonresidents cannot park in these spaces for any length of time, except on Sundays or with a visitor permit lent by a resident; even with a visitor permit or in a non-sticker zone, nonresidents cannot park for more than 24 hours. Streets are cleaned once a month (over two days, one day per side of the street), except January through March; cars parked on the wrong side of the street on that street’s cleaning day are towed. City policy discourages public off-street parking, in favor of reserved parking for residential and commercial tenants, so paid off-street parking is very expensive, and is nonexistent in many areas.

Mass transit

Cambridge has one stop on the regional Commuter Rail, one on the Green Line, and five stops on the Red Line. Alewife Station, the current terminus of the Red Line, has a large multi-story parking garage (at a rate of $5 per day as of November 2005). The parking garage is an ideal place for visitors (coming to the area from the northwest) to leave their cars if their final destination is near a T station, although like many other Boston-area commuter lots, Alewife tends to fill up on workday mornings, and there can be some major delays driving out of the garage during the evening rush. There are also several bus routes throughout the city, with the major local bus terminals at Alewife, Harvard Square, Central Square, and Lechmere Square and four trolleybus routes that originate at Harvard Square. 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,[14] the Minuteman Bikeway and the Linear Park connecting Alewife and the Somerville Community Path. 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.[citation needed] In addition, Cambridge bans cycling on certain sections of sidewalk where pedestrian traffic is heavy.[15][16]

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”),[17] it has listed Cambridge as an honorable mention as one of the best[18] and was called by the magazine “Boston’s Great Hope.” Cambridge has an active, official bicycle committee.


Cambridge has the highest percentage of commuters in the country who walk to work.[1] Cambridge’s major historic squares have been recently adapted into a modern walking landscape which has sparked a traffic calming program based on pedestrian rather than motorist needs.


Intercity buses and Amtrak stop at South Station in Boston, which is a short ride on the Red Line from Cambridge. Logan International Airport is easy to get to by car or taxi. It can also be reached via mass transit either by taking the Red Line to South Station and transferring to the Silver Line SL1 bus (which serves the terminals directly), or by taking the Green Line to Government Center and transferring to the Blue Line and going to the Airport stop (and then taking a Massport shuttle bus to the terminals).

Points of interest

Cambridge Public Library, funded by Frederick Hastings Rindge in 1887.

Cambridge Public Library, funded by Frederick Hastings Rindge in 1887.

The Longfellow National Historic Site, also known as the Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Longfellow National Historic Site, also known as the Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


  • City Hall
  • Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts
  • Cooper-Frost-Austin House
  • Elmwood House
  • Asa Gray House
  • Hooper-Lee-Nichols House
  • Longfellow National Historic Site
  • Middlesex County Courthouse
  • O’Reilly Spite House. In 1908, Francis O’Reilly owned an investment parcel of land in West Cambridge and approached his abutting land neighbor to sell the land for a gain.[19] After the neighbor refused to buy the land, O’Reilly built a 308 square foot building, measuring thirty-seven feet long and only eight feet wide, to spite the neighbor.[19] The O’Reilly Spite House still is standing and is occupied by The Real Estate Cafe.[19]


  • Busch-Reisinger Museum
  • Fogg Art Museum
  • Harvard Museum of Natural History
  • MIT Museum
  • Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

Nature and outdoors

  • Alewife Brook Reservation
  • Charles River
  • Cambridge Common
  • Fresh Pond
  • Harvard Bridge
  • Longfellow Bridge
  • Mount Auburn Cemetery


  • Christ Church, Cambridge
  • Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church
  • Plymouth Brethren meet at The Gospel Room on Norfolk Street.


  • Café Pamplona
  • Club Passim
  • Harvard Book Store
  • List of Registered Historic Places in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Sister cities

Cambridge has eight sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI):

  • Flag of the United Kingdom Cambridge, England, UK
  • Flag of Portugal Coimbra, Portugal
  • Flag of Cuba Cienfuegos, Cuba
  • Flag of Italy Gaeta, Italy
  • Flag of Ireland Galway, Ireland
  • Flag of Armenia Yerevan, Armenia
  • Flag of El Salvador San José Las Flores, El Salvador
  • Flag of Japan Tsukuba Science City, Japan

Zip codes

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

Further reading

  • History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Volume 1 (A-H), Volume 2 (L-W) compiled by Samuel Adams Drake, published 1879-1880.
    • Cambridge article by Rev. Edward Abbott in volume 1, pages 305-358.
  • 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.


  • Cambridge Maps
  • City of Cambridge Geographic Information System (GIS)
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