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monsoon, January 5, 2004 in Greater Boston
Cambridge is technically a separate city from Boston. It has its own metropolitan government, planning agency and other things. But, it's connected to Boston by two subway lines and, to me, feels like an extension of the city of Boston. It has many neighborhoods, each with its own distinct neighborhood center. The most prominent of these centers are Central Sq., Porter Sq., Harvard Sq. and Inman Sq. (feel free to add if I've missed any). It's virtually all very urban, although a few areas, most notably along Brattle St. west of Harvard Sq. and the area out towars Fresh Pond and Alewife, are somewhat suburban. East Cambridge, near Kendall Sq. and Lechmere is going through the late stages of redevelopment, with a ton of new bio-tech research buildings being built there to go with some slightly older office buildings around Kendall Sq. On the skyline, East Cambridge's high-rises create a stunted, boxy, bricky extension to the West End of Boston. Harvard and Central Squares used to be very cool and unique, with local stores and restuarants. They've lost much of that identity, with Harvard Sq. leading the way. It was sad when Omega Watches and Abercrombie and FItch took over a major corner of Harvard Sq. not too long ago. Meanwhile, Inman is home to some good restaurants, and is the center of a large Portuguese community.
Cambridge's overwhelming personality is residential. There are lots of students, most grad-students, living there in apartments in and around Harvard and MIT. But there are also tons of families. It's a nice city on its own, but I have never thought of it as anything but a part of the Boston metro area.
PS. Here's a link to some photos of Cambridge on SSG:
Cambridge is just across a small river from Boston (the Charles), but it is a separate city. Everyone knows Harvard and MIT are there, but the city has many other interesting parts too. With over 12,000 ppsm it is a very dense city with some amazing buildings and public spaces. It has dozens of tall buildings and some great architecture and neighborhoods as well. Some shots I took last fall don't show many of the hirises, but give a feeling for the city. The tallest buildings in Cambridge are around 300 feet.
Nice place to hang on a warm fall day
Bucolic old building on Charles
Boathouse with slate shingles
Boat ramp for sculling boats
Old Harvard buildings
Brtualist archituecture can be, just brutal
More of old Harvard
A slightly more colorful monstrosity
Houses in a neighborhood not far from Harvard
Mass Ave. on the way to MIT
Hancock bldg in Boston in the distance
I really love that last picture tocoto.
I sometimes feel that Cambridge is more Boston than Boston. I lived mostly in the Allston-Brighton area when I lived in Boston and used to walk into Harvard all the time. I spent a lot of time in Harvard, Central, Porter, and Inman Squares. I'm sort of a 'West Bostonian' Allston-Brighton, Watertown, Cambridge, Newton were where I spent most of my time.
Here's some pics I collected off the net of Harvard Square for another thread...
Cambridge was the capitol of Massachusetts before Boston, check it out...
A Brief History of Cambridge
In 1630, a fleet of 11 ships carrying 700 passengers, set sail from England, bound for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This dedicated band of Puritans hoped to build their community around a purer, more Biblical church.
The newcomers settled several villages around Massachusetts Bay, but could not agree on a capital. Seeking a protected site, John Winthrop and his Assistants chose a small hill on the north bank of the Charles River, at the entrance to a small creek, 5 miles upstream from Boston. The Charles was deep enough to accommodate the era's large ships, yet the passage was treacherous for those unfamiliar with the narrow channel. Later, a "pallysadoe," a series of stockade fences and a trench, was built around the town.
Newtowne, as Cambridge was known until 1638, was laid out in an orderly grid of streets, bounded today by Eliot Square and Linden Street, Massachusetts Avenue and the River. Each family owned a house lot in the village, planting fields outside, and a share in the common land. Boston was eight long miles away: a ferry at the foot of JFK Street carried passengers over the river to a path -- now North Harvard Street -- that led through Brookline and Roxbury, eventually traversing the spit of land that is now Washington Street. Until the Great Bridge was built in 1660-62, this was the only way to Boston, except via the ferry from Charlestown.
The rest of the history of Cambridge....
Cambridge is expensive to buy in, but there are lots of students and a lot of apartments. Depends on what you want I guess.
I was thinking about your original question. Most of the Boston area inside the 95/128 belt is pretty urban with lots of density, commercial and multifamily. There are also areas with single family houses ranging from modest capes to huge mansions in Newton, Boston, Cambridge, Belmont and other cities. Density is highest along the coast and around the mystic and charles rivers. Very little of the land north of the charles is part of boston but DT boston borders the river, so the development on the other side is similar in density to much of boston. Cambridge and sommerville actually have higher pop density than boston over smaller areas.
If boston had a land area of 250 sqmi or so much of this area would be in the city and the population would probably be somewhere around 2 million. Someday I have to add it all up.
I've read that there are about 2.1 million people inside 128 which runs circumferentially around the city at a distance of 11 miles.
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