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Cambridge At A Glance

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Home to Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology among other schools, Cambridge today is a prime area for higher education and research, high-technology and pharmaceuticals. But it wasn't always that way. Take an informative glance at Cambridge, Massachusetts and learn why it's called the "City of Squares."

Location Is It

Cambridge is just north of Boston across the Charles River. The town was strategically situated away from the Boston Harbor to protect it from enemy attacks.

History Abounds

The village got its start in 1630 and is home to three historically well-known institutes of higher learning: Harvard University (formerly New College), Radcliffe (now part of Harvard) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Begun under Puritan theology derived from Cambridge University teachings in England, from which the town got its name. In fact, Harvard was initially started to train ministers. From an early agricultural area to a part in the American Revolution to a poet's paradise in the mid-1800s, Cambridge has a long history. The early 1900s turned the town into an industrial center, but now it's an academic, high-tech and pharmaceutical powerhouse. Today about 106,000 people, comprising a wide range of races and ethnicities, live in Cambridge.

Housing and Open Space

The business/commercial districts are made up of intersections forming neighborhood squares, giving the city its name of "City of Squares." Residential neighborhoods border the commercial squares. With the termination of rent control in the early 1990s, home affordability disappeared and Cambridge had one of the most expensive home prices in the U.S. The city has little public-park space, but this is offset by the publicly accessible open spaces at the universities such as Cambridge Common.

Work and Getting There

Harvard and MIT employ about 20,000 people. The City of Cambridge, along with several healthcare and biotech companies, employ an additional 12,000 people. The Massachusetts Turnpike and several other major roads provide easy access in and out of the city. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) offers extensive commuter rail and bus systems to get around. Walking is an especially popular way for locals to get to work.

Culture and Fun

Once again, the universities provide much of the culture and entertainment for the city with art, natural history archaeology, visual arts and other museums. There are several historic buildings, some dating to the 1700s, and numerous modern architectural sites to check out, along with the many open spaces running alongside the Charles River.

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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