Cambridgeport - Cambridge, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 42° 21.824 W 071° 06.222
19T E 326768 N 4692305
Quick Description: Cambridgeport, one of the neighborhoods around Central Square, grew from a small village surrounded by salt marshes to a densely populated area central to the city of Cambridge.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 12/1/2008 7:59:26 PM
Waymark Code: WM59KZ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
Views: 20

Long Description:
On the Pearl Street side of the Green Street parking garage a couple blocks from Massachusetts Avenue in the Central Square part of Cambridge, is a neighborhood station about Cambridgeport. There are three panels:

[Panel 1]


"Early Settlement

"THROUGHOUT THE FIRST CENTURY of settlement, the land east of Old Cambridge was primarily agricultural, valued for pasture, salt hay and oysters. In 1775, the area was divided into three great farms: the Soden Farm, dating from 1720; the Bordman Farm, which was part of the earlier Phips estate that included all of East Cambridge and much of eastern Cambridgeport; and a very early farm that became known as the Inman Estate after it was purchased by Ralph Inman in 1756.

"Another early landmark was Captain's Island, named for Daniel Patrick, who held that rank in the Colony's militia. The island was sold to the Commonwealth in 1817 as the site for a powder magazine; hence the names of Magazine Beach and Magazine Street for the road leading there.

"AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REVOLUTION, the Inman family fled Cambridge, and their mansion housed patriot troops and served as headquarters for General Israel Putnam. During the Siege of Boston patriots erected a chain of forts along the river and over Dana Hill. The only one now remaining is Fort Washington, a three gun battery built by orders of General Washington in 1775.

"TRANSFORMATION OF THE ISOLATED FIELDS AND MARSHES into a new settlement that would soon surpass Old Cambridge began in 1793 with the construction of the West Boston Bridge. The distance from Harvard Square to Boston was reduced from 8 to less than 4 miles, and the road to the Oyster Banks (Massachusetts Avenue and Main Street) became the chief thoroughfare between inland farms and Boston.

"Access provided by the Bridge stimulated the development of an extensive system of canals and wharves, and Congress declared Cambridge a Port of Entry in 1805. The dream of a port had originated with the Boston entrepreneurs Rufus Davenport and Royal Makepeace, but it was short-lived. Although streets
"were laid out and lost sold in anticipation of a boom, the Embargo of 1807 dashed all hopes of success; only a short length of the Broad Canal at Kendall Square remains of this early speculation.

"THE TURNPIKES TO THE WEST AND THE NEW BRIDGES to Brighton and Watertown rescued the settlement after the port failed. Taverns, livery stables and blacksmith shops went up on all the main roads to serve travelers and local residents, and a hay market was established in Central Square. By 1820, Cambridgeport had its own meetinghouse, school and cemetery.
"UNTIL THE 1840s the Port was separated from Harvard Square and Old Cambridge by acres of salt marsh, but its leaders were vigorous, and in 1833 succeeded in establishing the new Town Hall at the southwest corner of Harvard and Norfolk Streets, thus removing the center of government from Old Cambridge and preparing the way for the incorporation of the three communities in one city in 1846.

"Among the distinguished inhabitants of the Port during this time were the painter Washington Allston (1799-1843), who worked in a studio on Magazine Street; Margaret Fuller, early advocator of women's rights, who lived at 71 Cherry Street; and Tomas Dowse, a prominent leather manufacturer, who left the City an endowment for cultural purposes.

"Although the Central Square area attracted many new residents when omnibus service was established to Boston in 1824, the opening of railroads from Boston to Lowell, Worcester and Fitchburg in the 1830s drew away traffic from the turnpikes and caused Cambridgeport to stagnate until the Civil War."

[Panel 2]


"A Growing Community

"NEW LIFE STIRRED IN CAMBRIDGEPORT with the arrival in 1853 of the Grand Junction Railroad. The railroad ran across the marshes from East Cambridge on an embankment that acted as a wall against the river tides and encouraged filling of the swampy land behind it. The canals, by now an impediment to development, were partially filled in and small, local businesses gave way to heavy industry. Lever Brothers soap makers; The Riverside Press, printers and binders; and foundries and manufacturers of rubberized fabric, railroad cars, steel cable, candy, biscuits and paint helped make Cambridge the second most important industrial city in Massachusetts.

"AFTER 1840, thousands of European immigrants moved to Cambridgeport to work in local factories, stimulating construction of hundreds of small wood housed. From 1880 to World War I, triple deckers went up on many vacant lots. Into these buildings moved great numbers of English, Canadian, Swedish, German, Irish, Baltic and Russian immigrants. As their numbers increased, clubs and churches of every denomination and nationality were built, many of which still stand.

"After the Civil War, many black people came to the Cambridgeport-Riverside area. Before the war, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison had published 'The Liberator' from his Elm Street home, and in 1868, the Howard Industrial School was opened on Putnam Avenue to provide shelter and training for newly freed slaves.

"One of the most distinguished black residents of Cambridgeport was Maria Louise Balwin (1856 - 1922)
"who lived at 196 Prospect Street. Her appointment as principal of the Agassiz School made her the first black woman principal in Massachusetts.

"BEFORE THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY, Cambridge turned again toward the Charles River. Charles Davenport and several friends formed the Charles River Embankment Company, which planned to create a residential district to rival Boston's Back Bay. Development of the entire riverfront as parkland was initiated in 1892 by the Cambridge Park Commission. The Charles River Dam was completed in 1910, enabling the City to build Memorial Drive from the Longfellow Bridge to Hawthorn Street, just west of Harvard Square.

"THE OPENING OF THE MONUMENTAL NE BUILDINGS for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the Embankment in 1916 shifted the emphasis from industrial to institutional development. Enormous growth of research during World War II encouraged formation of many new industries in the old factory buildings, and made Cambridge the technological center of the nation."

[Panel 3]

"CAMBRIDGE was founded in 1630 as a new settlement meant by the Puritan leaders in Boston to be the permanent capital. The site chosen was a low hill three miles up the Charles River and hence safe from attack by sea. Streets were laid out in a grid pattern near what is now Harvard Square. House lots were assigned, each with a small garden, while outside the village farm strips and common land stretched away to a fortified fence or "pallysadoe" which kept out wandering Indians and wolves. The village was called Newtowne.

"NEWTOWNE DID NOT SUCCEED as a political capital but with the founding of Harvard College in 1636 it became a center of learning and remains so today. It was re-named Cambridge, in honor of the great English University, where many of the colonists had been educated. Harvard, combined with the Puritan church state, became a dominant presence in the community and moulded its ways.

"THE WAYS OF HARVARD, however, were not the only Cambridge ways. The village stood on the ancient Indian track from Charlestown to Watertown which is now Kirkland street, the path across the Common, and Brattle street. It was a busy market center and claimed the land from present day Newton almost to the Merrimack River as its own.

"BY 1775 THE PURITAN VILLAGE and the college had been joined by a group of wealthy royalists whose revenues came from service to the Crown and slavery trade with the West Indies. They built elaborate mansions and gardens along Brattle Street which can be seen today. These proud occupants of "Tory Row" lived an elegant life apart, but when the storm of the Revolution broke, they fled to Canada or England, and their estates were confiscated.

"THE WAR BEGAN for Cambridge on April 19, 1775 when local Patriots, after being alerted by William Dawes to the approach of British troops, gathered to fight. Later that day, three were killed during the bloody British retreat from Concord. In the following weeks patriot soldiers from all New England gathered on Cambridge Common and there, on July 3, 1775, George Washington proclaimed the Continental Army and took command. In the next eleven months he directed the Siege of Boston from his headquarters here, training his troops and building defences like Fort Putnam in East Cambridge, whose guns, with those on Dorchester Heights, forced the British evacuation of Boston, the first great victory of the Revolution.

"AFTER THE WAR, the marshes, farms and estates of Old Cambridge and the banks of the Charles River were divided into building lots by real estate speculators. The community of Cambridgeport began when a group of investors, in 1793, opened the West Boston Bridge, now Longfellow Bridge, which was the first direct connection between Cambridge and Boston. The roads leading to the bridge were at
"once crowded with travelers and lined with new buildings. The bridge developers tried to attract ocean commerce by building wharves and canals around what is now Kendall Square and by having the facilities declared a Port of Entry by Congress. Their great plans were nullified, however, by the Embargo and the War of 1812.

"CAMBRIDGEPORT recovered, however, its people paying the tolls to cross the bridge and work in Boston or finding jobs in new local industries such as the Davenport Car Works. When the bridge toll was removed, immigrants flowed in from overcrowded Boston. Families came from Ireland, Canada, Sweden and Portugal, and later from Russia, the Baltics, and the eastern Mediterranean. By mid-century, Cambridgeport had 10,000 residents, a majority of the area's population, and the new City Hall, built there despite the protest of Old Cambridge.

"DR. ANDREW CRAIGIE, an energetic and creative businessman, started growth in this remote and long neglected part of Cambridge. In 1809 he opened a second toll bridge to Boston, bringing in traffic and prosperity to the area. Craigie built a new Court House and Jail in East Cambridge, taking these functions also from a reluctant Old Cambridge. He brought in new industry such as the glass works, and immigrants from Europe by the thousands came to work in them. These newcomers founded their own national churches, along with cultural, social and political organizations which have preserved Old World Ways and greatly enriched the life of the City.

"NORTH CAMBRIDGE grew gradually along Massachusetts Avenue and westward. For years it was a livestock center and the Porter Hose Hotel flourished in Porter Square, leaving its name to us on a fine cut of beefsteak. From the 1840's on, ice was cut on Fresh Pond and shipped all over the world. Local clay pits supported a giant brickmaking industry which lasted well into the twentieth century. The railroad which was built to carry ice to the wharves of Charlestown carried away Cambridge brick and serves the lumber and steel yards of today."

"CAMBRIDGE BECAME A CITY IN 1846, after the petition of Old Cambridge to be separate had been denied. In the 1870s the last marshes were filled and many industries prospered on this new land. 1910 saw the Charles River Dam completed, ending at last the tidal mud flats along the river. By 1912 the subway had brought Boston and Harvard Square within minutes of each other and four years later Massachusetts Institute of Technology opened its new campus, joining a new group of great thinkers and teachers to those of Harvard and Cambridge's other institutions. Creations and inventions multiply here, products of a long active history and diverse energetic people."


There are many pictures and captions that add to the text, but you'll have to see them in person.
Agency Responsible for Placement: Cambridge Historical Commission

Year Placed: 1977

County: Middlesex

City/Town Name: Cambridge

Relevant Web Site: [Web Link]

Agency Responsible for Placement (if not in list above): Not listed

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