Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Cambridge, Massachusetts

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.

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High Points

Cambridge strengths, compared to Peers (similar size places nationally) or State (other places in Massachusetts):

Category Trophy
Walking and Biking to Work
(vs. Peers)
Top 1% trophy Cambridge Walking and Biking to Work
Public Transportation Use
(vs. Peers)
Top 1% trophy Cambridge Public Transportation Use
College Educated Adults
(vs. Peers)
Top 2% trophy Cambridge College Educated Adults
Racial Diversity
(vs. State)
Top 3% trophy Cambridge Racial Diversity
Well-Paid Single Women
(vs. Peers)
Top 4% trophy Cambridge Well-Paid Single Women
Well-Paid Single Men
(vs. Peers)
Top 8% Cambridge Well-Paid Single Men

Comparative Profile of Cambridge, Massachusetts

Comparing Cambridge to similar size places nationwide (Peers) and to other places in Massachusetts (State):

Ratings range from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest).

The People

Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
Well-Paid Single Women 10 10
Well-Paid Single Men 10 9
Racial Diversity 8 10
Male Share of the Population 7 6
Female Share of the Population 4 5
Senior Citizens 3 2
Age of the Population 2 1
Children Under 5 Years Old 1 1


Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
Portion of People Married 1 1
Average Household Size 1 1


Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
College Educated Adults 10 10
Median Family Income 7 4
People in Middle Class or Better 5 2
People Above Poverty 4 1

Commute & Sprawl

Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
Walking and Biking to Work 10 10
Public Transportation Use 10 10
Working at Home 10 8
Short Commute Times 5 8


Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
People Living Alone 10 10
Studio & One-Bedroom Rentals 10 10
Seasonal and Vacation Housing 9 7
Affordability of Property Taxes 3 3
Affordability of Rents 1 1
Housing Recently Built 1 1


Characteristic Compared
to Peers
to State
Low Property Crime 5 1
Low Violent Crime 4 2

Detailed pages on related topics: Colleges in Cambridge, Graduate Schools in Cambridge
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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
Detailed pages on related topics: Colleges in Cambridge, Graduate Schools in Cambridge
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Cambridge Population (2000)

Category Count Percent
Total Population 101,355 100%
Male 49,674 49%
Female 51,681 51%
Under 18 13,447 13.3%
18+ 87,908 86.7%
65+ 9,282 9.2%
Median Age 30.4
Average Family Size 2.83
White 69,022 68.1%
African-American 12,079 11.9%
Asian 12,036 11.9%
American Indian & Alaskan 290 0.3%
Other 3,230 3.2%
Mixed Race 4,621 4.6%
Hispanic (included in categories above) 7,455 7.4%

Estimated Cambridge Population Growth 2000-2005

Category Value
Est. 2005 Population 100,135
Growth -1,220
Growth % -1.2%

Cambridge Ancestry

(From 2000 Census, as reported by individuals)

Note: This is national, not racial, ancestry, so, e.g., the Census doesn't have categories for Hispanic and African-American people. CityTownInfo is currently gathering additional ancestry data for this site.
Ancestry Percent
Other (often includes Hispanic and African American) 28.2%
Irish 11%
English 7.2%
Italian 6.9%
German 5.3%
Haitian 3.6%
Russian 3.2%
Portuguese 3%
US/American 2.9%
Polish 2.4%
French (except Basque) 1.9%
Scottish 1.4%
European 1.4%
French Canadian 1.3%
British 1.2%
Greek 1.1%
Scotch-Irish 1.1%
Jamaican 1%
Eastern European 1%
Swedish 0.9%
Brazilian 0.8%
Norwegian 0.7%
African 0.7%
Dutch 0.7%
Canadian 0.7%
Ukrainian 0.6%
Ethiopian 0.5%
Lithuanian 0.5%
Hungarian 0.5%
Israeli 0.4%
Barbadian 0.4%
Danish 0.4%
Arab/Arabic 0.4%
Cape Verdean 0.4%
Lebanese 0.4%
Northern European 0.4%
Austrian 0.4%
Armenian 0.3%
Czech 0.3%
Swiss 0.3%
Turkish 0.2%
Other Arab 0.2%
Welsh 0.2%
Scandinavian 0.2%
Finnish 0.2%
West Indian 0.2%
Romanian 0.2%
Nigerian 0.2%
Trinidadian and Tobagonian 0.2%
Australian 0.2%
Iranian 0.2%
Detailed pages on related topics: Colleges in Cambridge, Graduate Schools in Cambridge
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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 Pop. Median Family
Income (2000)
Cambridge 101,355 $59,423
Arlington 42,389 $78,741
Boston 589,141 $44,151
Brookline 57,107 $92,993
Chelsea 35,080 $32,130
Medford 55,765 $62,409
Somerville 77,478 $51,243

Cambridge Public Libraries

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

library logo

More Information for Librarians

Cambridge Hospitals

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

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

Starbucks in Cambridge

(As of 2005)
31 Church Street
Broadway Marketplace
468 Broadway
Cambridge Center
6 Cambridge Center
Cambridge, Fresh Pond
222 Alewife Brook Parkway
100 Cambridgeside Place
Central Square
655 Massachussets Ave
Harvard Square
36 JFK Street
Marriott Boston Cambridge
2 Cambridge Center
Shepard Post
1662 Massachusetts Ave
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Cambridge High Schools (2004)

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

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City, State Similarity   1 Person Houses 65+ College Grads Commute Minutes Family Income Kids 0-4 Non White Pop. Poverty Prop. Crime Seasonal Housing Viol. Crime
      loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose loose
1. Seattle, Washington 93   40.8% 12% 47.2% 26 $62,195 4.7% 29.9% 563,374 11.8% 76 0.7% 6.7
2. Morristown, New Jersey 89.5   38.6% 12.4% 39.3% 25 $66,419 5.5% 32.9% 18,544 11.5% 39.5 1% 7.1
3. Boston, Massachusetts 88.8   37.2% 10.4% 35.6% 30 $44,151 5.4% 45.5% 589,141 19.5% 46.9 0.6% 11.7
4. Northampton, Massachusetts 88.3   37.4% 13.8% 46.1% 21 $56,844 4.1% 10% 28,978 9.8% 29.7 1% 3.2
5. Washington, District of Columbia 87.6   43.7% 12.2% 39.1% 31 $46,283 5.7% 69.2% 572,059 20.2% 45.2 0.8% 12.8
6. Hackensack, New Jersey 87.6   39.8% 12.5% 29.1% 29 $56,953 5.8% 47.4% 42,677 9.3% 27.3 0.6% 3.3
7. Fredericksburg, Virginia 85.6   39.3% 12.8% 30.5% 25 $47,148 5.8% 26.8% 19,279 15.5% 52.3 0.5% 5
8. Charleston, South Carolina 82.3   33.8% 13.5% 37.5% 21 $48,705 5.4% 36.9% 96,650 19.1% 56.3 1.1% 10.8
9. Altamonte Springs, Florida 81.1   36.7% 10.7% 31.2% 26 $49,082 5.9% 20.8% 41,200 7.4% 36 1% 3.4
10. Jacksonville Beach, Florida 78.5   34.6% 13% 29.9% 25 $58,388 5% 9.1% 20,990 7.2% 65.7 3.4% 7.6
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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

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