Situated directly north 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.:18
Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), two of the world’s most prestigious universities, are in Cambridge, as was Radcliffe College, one of the leading colleges for women in the United States until it merged with Harvard.
According to the 2010 Census, the city’s population was 105,162. As of July 2014, it was the fifth most populous city in the state, behind Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Lowell. Cambridge was one of the two seats of Middlesex County until the abolition of county government in 1997; Lowell was the other.
Kendall Square in Cambridge has been called “the most innovative square mile on the planet”, in reference to the high concentration of entrepreneurialstart-ups and quality of innovation that have emerged there since 2010.
Cambridge has been called the “City of Squares”, as most of its commercial districts are major street intersections known as squares. Each square acts as a neighborhood center. These include:Squares
- Kendall Square, formed by the junction of Broadway, Main Street, and Third Street. It 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 here, giving the area something of the feel of an office park. A flourishing biotech industry has grown up in this area. The Cambridge Innovation Center, a large co-working space, is in Kendall Square at 1 Broadway. The Cambridge Center office complex is 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. Well known for its wide variety of ethnic restaurants, it was rather rundown as recently as the late 1990s; 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 a major Cambridge shopping area. It is served by a Red Line station. Harvard Square was originally the Red Line’s northwestern terminus 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, after the famed scientist Louis Agassiz.
- Porter Square, about a mile north on Massachusetts Avenue from Harvard Square, at the junction of Massachusetts and Somerville Avenues. It includes part of the city of Somerville and 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 in Porter Square.
- Inman Square, at the junction of Cambridge and Hampshire streets in Mid-Cambridge. It is home to many diverse restaurants, bars, music venues and boutiques. Victorian streetlights, benches and bus stops were recently added to the streets, and a new community park was installed.
- Lechmere Square, at the junction of Cambridge and First streets, adjacent to the CambridgeSide Galleria shopping mall. It is perhaps best known as the MBTA Green Line‘s northern terminus, at Lechmere Station.