Introduction to Cambridge, Massachusetts

The city of Cambridge is part of the Greater Boston area of Massachusetts. The city is best known for being the home of two world-class universities, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), located within just two miles of each other. Cambridge is bordered by the city of Boston, located on the other side of the Charles River just 3 miles to the southeast. Other surrounding communities include Somerville (to the north), Watertown (to the west), and Arlington (to the northwest).

Settled in 1630 by a band of Puritans from England, Cambridge was originally called "Newtowne." The founding of Harvard College in 1636 prompted the choice of a new name, one more appropriate for a college town in New England. The name "Cambridge" was chosen due to the familiarity of many of the settlers with Cambridge University in England. The year 1636 also marked the incorporation of the town, which became a city in 1846 when the original town (Old Cambridge) merged with two villages (Cambridgeport and East Cambridge) which had formed to the east along the roads leading to bridges linking the area to Boston. The city's major industrial focus in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries centered on factories (largely furniture and glass) but since that time the emphasis has shifted to technology-based enterprises, including electronics, software, and biotechnology research. Cambridge today is very much a college-influenced community combining a strong mix of cultural and social diversity, intellectual vitality and technological innovation.

Cambridge Area Attractions

The charming neighborhoods ("Squares") of Cambridge are rich in options for shopping, dining, and sightseeing, offering plenty of theatres, museums, and historic sites. Central Square, the seat of city government, contains a variety of international restaurants and music clubs. Kendall Square, home to MIT, is the focal point of the Massachusetts high tech and biotechnology industries. Harvard Square, surrounding the historic brick walls of the nation's oldest university, offers a plethora of cafes, bookstores, boutiques, and entertainment choices. Likewise, Porter and Inman Squares offer a diverse selection of dining options, and many artistic and cultural attractions as well.

Among the many attractions in Cambridge is the Museum of Science, featuring more than 400 interactive exhibits, a planetarium, and a state-of-the-art IMAX Theatre. Harvard's Busch-Reisinger Museum is the nation's only museum devoted specifically to the arts of Central and Northern Europe. The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, also at Harvard, is one of the world's oldest museums devoted to anthropology. The Longfellow House, a National Historic Site built in 1759, was the home of the celebrated poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and also served as George Washington's headquarters in 1775 and 1776.

Cambridge is home to a number of annual street fairs and festivals. The Cambridge Carnival in Massachusetts, held in August, is a Caribbean-style carnival featuring costumes, music, street-parades, dancing, and food, which represent the diverse cultures of the Caribbean islands. The Cambridge River Festival, held in June, features music, art, food, and a variety of hands-on art-making activities for kids. October's Head of the Charles Regatta is a 2-day regatta where sailing fans can watch racers from all over the world compete along the Charles River. Each September on the weekend after Labor Day Cambridge celebrates the Italian Festival of Saints Cosmas and Damian. Considered one of New England's premier cultural festivals, this large celebration consists of parades, ethnic food, candlelight processions, amusement rides, games, and live entertainment.

On the other side of the Charles River, the neighboring city of Boston is filled with its own long list of attractions. A small sampling of these is listed here:

  • The Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • The Boston Pops
  • The Museum of Fine Arts
  • The Boston Children's Museum
  • Franklin Park Zoo
  • Faneuil Hall
  • The Freedom Trail
  • John Hancock Tower
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library and Museum
  • New England Aquarium
  • Old North Church
  • Paul Revere House
  • Prudential Center
  • The USS Constitution

The city of Boston is also home to a number of major league professional sports teams. Prominent among them are Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox, who play their games at historic Fenway Park, itself one of the city's major tourist attractions. Also in town are the National Basketball Association's Boston Celtics, holders of one of most storied dynasties in all of sports. Hockey fans can root for the NHL's Boston Bruins, while lacrosse fans can enjoy the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse (MLL). World Team Tennis (WTT) also has a franchise in the city known as the Boston Lobsters. Down the road (about 30 miles to the southwest), the town of Foxboro is home to the National Football League's New England Patriots (winners of three Super Bowls in recent years) and Major League Soccer's New England Revolution.


Total Population 107,916
Male Share of the Population 48.4%
Female Share of the Population 51.6%
Senior Citizens 10.7%
Employed Population 16+ 61,228
Age of the Population 31


% of people married 32%
Average household size 2

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 75.1%
Median Earnings25+ $51,669
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $23,311
Median Earnings With High School Degree $31,275


Median Family Income $104,454
% Above Poverty Level 86%
% Below Poverty Level 14%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 25 minutes
% Working from Home 7.4%
% Walking and Biking to Work 30.8%
% Using Public Transportation 28.6%


People Living Alone 39.6%
Median Gross Rent $1,686
Median House Value $581,700


Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 32%
US/American 0.4%
English 8.3%
Irish 13%

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Cambridge Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Large City 2 miles NW of Boston, Massachusetts
County Middlesex
Standard Zip Codes 02138, 02139, 02140, 02141, 02142, 02163
P.O. Box Zip Codes 02238
Company Zip Codes 02239
Phone Area Codes 617
Time Zone Eastern (-5 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 42.375
Longitude -71.106

Cambridge Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)

Distance 4.6 miles
Jan Temp 22 to 37 F
Apr Temp 41 to 56 F
Jul Temp 66 to 82 F
Oct Temp 46 to 62 F
Annual Precip 42.5 inches
Distance 9.9 miles
Jan Temp 16 to 35 F
Apr Temp 35 to 58 F
Jul Temp 60 to 83 F
Oct Temp 39 to 62 F
Annual Precip 48.3 inches
Distance 11.7 miles
Jan Temp 16 to 35 F
Apr Temp 36 to 58 F
Jul Temp 60 to 83 F
Oct Temp 39 to 62 F
Annual Precip 46.9 inches

Neighborhood and Nearby Area Names

According to the US Postal Service, Cambridge, its neighborhoods, and/or surrounding areas are also referred to as:

Cambridgeport (02139)

East Cambridge (02141)

Harvard Square (02238)

Inman Square (02139)

Kendall Square (02142)

North Cambridge (02140)

Porter Square (02140)

Soldiers Field (02163)

Note that not all alternate names are acceptable for use in US Post Office addresses.

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Arlington 44,128 $128,930
Boston 650,281 $62,775
Brookline 59,132 $137,120
Chelsea 37,581 $50,655
Medford 57,136 $91,532
Somerville 78,595 $79,263

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Cambridge Public Libraries

Cambridge Public Library
Cambridge, Massachusetts
(617) 349-4040

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More Information for Librarians

Cambridge Hospitals

(Government - Local)
(617) 665-2300
Emergency Service: Yes

(Voluntary non-profit - Private)
(617) 492-3500
Emergency Service: Yes

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Cambridge High Schools

Serves 1,883 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 9.4

Additional Details
Cambridge Colleges
Cambridge colleges and trade schools.
Cambridge Graduate Schools
Cambridge Graduate and Business Schools
Study Online in Cambridge
Historic Cambridge


Wadsworth House (Harvard University) c1904.

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Wadsworth House (Harvard University) c1904.

Cooper-Frost- Austin House between 1910 and 1920

Riverbank Court between 1900 and 1920

Additional Resources
Info for Cambridge Government Officials

Are you an official in the Cambridge government or quasi-government agency such as the chamber of commerce, visitors bureau or economic development council? If so, visit our information page for government officials to see how CityTownInfo can support you.

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