Cambrige, MA

Cambridge Massachusetts

Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, situated directly north of Boston, across the Charles River. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town’s founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world’s most prominent universities, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Cambridge has also been home to Radcliffe College, once one of the leading colleges for women in the United States before it merged with Harvard. According to the 2010 Census, the city’s population was 105,162.   It is the fifth most populous city in the state, behind Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and Lowell. Cambridge was one of the two seats of Middlesex County prior to the abolition of county government in 1997; Lowell was the other. The site for what would become Cambridge was chosen in December 1630, because it was located safely upriver from Boston Harbor, which made it easily defensible from attacks by enemy ships. Thomas Dudley, his daughter Anne Bradstreet and her husband Simon were among the first settlers of the town. The first houses were built in the spring of 1631. The settlement was initially referred to as “the new town.” Official Massachusetts records show the name capitalized as New Towne by 1632. Located at the first convenient Charles River crossing west of Boston, New Towne 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 from surrounding towns to sell survives today as the small park at the corner of John F. Kennedy (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, Lexington (Cambridge Farms) in 1712, and both West Cambridge (originally Menotomy) and Brighton (Little Cambridge) in 1807. Part of West Cambridge joined the new town of Belmont in 1859, and the rest of West Cambridge was renamed Arl1ington in 1867; Brighton was annexed by Boston in 1874. In the late 19th century, various schemes for annexing Cambridge itself to the city of Boston were pursued and rejected.