Open main menu

The New International Encyclopædia/Cambridge (Massachusetts)

< The New International Encyclopædia

CAMBRIDGE. A city, the seat of Harvard University, and one of the county-seats of Middlesex County, Mass. It is on the Charles River opposite Boston, of which it is practically a suburb, being connected by several bridges (Map: Massachusetts, E 3). It is entered by the Boston and Albany and the Boston and Maine railroads, and electric railroads connect with Boston and adjacent towns. The historic divisions are still locally known as Old Cambridge, North Cambridge, East Cambridge, Cambridgeport, and Mount Auburn. Cambridge is irregular in shape, generally level in surface, and covers an area of about 6½ square miles. Its streets and avenues are shaded with beautiful old trees, and there are many handsome residences and well-presened Colonial mansions, among them the Craigie House, occupied by General Washington, and later the home of the poet Longfellow, now fronted by a memorial park, and Elmwood, the dwelling of James Russell Lowell. The principal features of Cambridge are Harvard University (q.v. ), with its ample grounds and many buildings, Radcliffe College (q.v.), the buildings of the Protestant Episcopal Divinity School, the First Parish Church (Unitarian), the Shepard Memorial Church (Congregational), commemorating Rev. Thomas Shepard (q.v.), and Christ Church (Protestant Episcopal). The city common contains a soldiers' monument and a statue of John Bridge. Less than a mile from the university are the Harvard Observatory and the botanical gardens of eight acres, filled with a great variety of trees, shrubs, and plants, especially of native species, Mount Auburn Cemetery, partly in Cambridge, one of the most beautiful places of burial in the country, contains the graves of Longfellow, Lowell, Phillips Brooks, and many other distinguished men. Among prominent buildings, other than those already mentioned, must be noted the public library, Cambridge Hospital, the Latin School, High School, Rindge Manual Training School, the city hall, the court-house, jail, and other county buildings. Cambridge has a fine system of public parks; besides Interior Parks, the River Parks include the entire river-front, and add greatly to the beauty of the city.

Among the industrial establishments of Cambridge are the Riverside, Athenæum, and University presses, the latter dating from the earliest printing house in America, founded in 1639, which are all widely known. There are also large foundries and machine-shops, meat-packing houses, and extensive manufactures of soap and candles, pianos and organs, furniture, confectionery, rubber goods, boilers, chemicals, astronomical instruments, carriages and automobiles, bricks, and many other articles. The industries are centred principally in Cambridgeport and East Cambridge.

Cambridge is governed, under the charter of 1891, by a mayor, elected annually, and a bicameral municipal council, of which the board of aldermen is elected at large and the common council by wards. In the administrative departments, the majority of officials are appointed by the mayor, subject to the confirmation of the board of aldermen; the city council, however, elects the city clerk and assistant, treasurer, auditor, messenger, clerk of committees, solicitor, and overseer of the poor; and members of the school board are chosen by popular election. Cambridge owns and operates its water-works. Some features of municipal politics deserve mention. Cambridge is noted as the largest city in the world with no open saloons, and the no-license system, as operated under the Massachusetts law, seems well established. Municipal elections are conducted by local parties entirely independent of national and State organizations.

History. Cambridge originally included the present towns of Lexington, Arlington, and the Brighton district of Boston. It was settled at Newtowne, in 1630, by Governor Winthrop and others, who intended it to be the chief place of the Colony, but found the peninsula of Shawmut (Boston) better adapted for commerce and for defense against the Indians. Resettled in 1631, it received, in 1633, its first pastor and teacher, Rev. Thomas Hooker (q.v.) and Rev. Samuel Stone, who removed with their congregation to Connecticut in 1636, largely owing to ecclesiastical differences. In 1637 the General Court ordered that the college it had previously decided to found be established at Newtowne, and in 1638 that Newtowne become Cambridge. In the same year the first class began its studies, and the name Harvard College was given to the modest institution. (See Harvard, John.) During the time Boston was held by the British Army (1775-76) Cambridge was occupied by the American Army, and Washington assumed command in 1775 under a large elm, which is still standing. The city charter of incorporation was granted in 1846. Cambridge claims to have enlisted the first company of volunteers for service on the Northern side at the outbreak of the Civil War, and during that conflict it furnished 4588 men to the Union army and navy. The city has been the home of many famous literary men, notably of Longfellow, Lowell, and Holmes.

Population, in 1790, 2111; in 1830, 6072; in 1850, 15,215; in 1880, 52,669; in 1890, 70,028; in 1900, 91,886, including 30,500 persons of foreign birth and 3900 of negro descent.

Consult: Paige, History of Cambridge (Boston, 1877); Hurd (editor), History of Middlesex County (Philadelphia, 1890); and Powell, Historic Towns of New England (New York, 1898).