The 31 colleges presently associated with Cambridge, with their dates of founding, are Peterhouse, or St. Peter's (1284), Clare (1326), Pembroke (1347), Gonville (1348; refounded as Gonville and Caius, 1558), Trinity Hall (1350), Corpus Christi (1352), King's (1441), Queens' (1448), St. Catharine's (1473), Jesus (1496), Christ's (1505), St. John's (1511), Magdalene (1542; pronounced môd' lĭn), Trinity (1546), Emmanuel (1584), Sidney Sussex (1596), Downing (1800), Homerton (1824; for students of education), Girton (1869), Selwyn (1882), Hughes (founded 1885 as Cambridge Training College for Women; approved foundation 1968), St. Edmund's (1896), Churchill (1960), Fitzwilliam (founded 1869 as a noncollegiate society, became a college 1966), and Robinson (1977).
The women's colleges are Newnham (1871), New Hall (1954), and Lucy Cavendish (1965). Girton (formerly a women's college) and Newnham were pioneers in university education for women. Although women took university examinations in the 1880s and after 1921 were awarded degrees, their colleges were not admitted to full university status until 1948. Darwin College (1964), Wolfson College (1965; founded as University College, renamed 1973), and Clare Hall (1966) are graduate institutions.
Cambridge was a center of the new learning of the Renaissance and of the theology of the Reformation; in modern times it has excelled in science. It has faculties of classics, divinity, English, architecture and history of art, modern and medieval languages, Oriental studies, music, economics and politics, history, law, philosophy, education, engineering, earth sciences and geography, mathematics, biology, archaeology and anthropology, physics and chemistry, and medicine. There are also departments of veterinary medicine, chemical engineering, land economy, and the history and philosophy of science as well as a computer laboratory.
Cambridge's famous Cavendish Laboratory of experimental physics was opened in 1873; the Cavendish professors have been outstanding names in physics. The chapel of King's College (1446), the Fitzwilliam Museum, and the botanic gardens are notable features of the university. There are also centers for African, Latin American, Middle Eastern, and South Asian studies; international law; archaeological research; medical genetics; and superconduvtivity research. Instruction at Cambridge is similar to the system at Oxford, except that tutors are called supervisors and the degree examination is known as the tripos. Until 1948, Cambridge sent two representatives to Parliament. Cambridge Univ. Press dates from the 16th cent.
See E. Vale, Cambridge and Its Colleges (1959); F. A. Reeve, Cambridge (1964); C. R. Benstead, Portrait of Cambridge (1968).
Cambridge is a county seat of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, along with Lowell. Though the county government was abolished in 1997, the county still exists as a geographical and political region. The employees of Middlesex County courts, jails, registries, and other county agencies now work directly for the state.
In 1636 Harvard College was founded by the colony to train ministers and Newetowne was chosen for its site by Thomas Dudley. In May 1638 the name was changed to Cambridge in honor of the university in Cambridge, England. The first president (Henry Dunster), the first benefactor (John Harvard), and the first schoolmaster (Nathaniel Eaton) of Harvard were all Cambridge University alumni, as was the then ruling (and first) governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop. In 1629, Winthrop had led the signing of the founding document of the city of Boston, which was known as the Cambridge Agreement, after the university. It was Governor Thomas Dudley who signed in 1650 the charter creating Harvard College.
Cambridge grew slowly as an agricultural village eight miles (13 km) by road from Boston, the capital of the colony. By the American Revolution, most residents lived near the Common and Harvard College, with farms and estates comprising most of the town. Most of the inhabitants were descendants of the original Puritan colonists, but there was also a small elite of Anglican "worthies" who were not involved in village life, who made their livings from estates, investments, and trade, and lived in mansions along "the Road to Watertown" (today's Brattle Street, still known as Tory Row). In 1775, George Washington came up from Virginia to take command of fledgling volunteer American soldiers camped on the Cambridge Common — today called the birthplace of the U.S. Army. (The name of today's nearby Sheraton Commander Hotel refers to that event.) Most of the Tory estates were confiscated after the Revolution. On January 24, 1776, Henry Knox arrived with artillery captured from Fort Ticonderoga, which enabled Washington to drive the British army out of Boston.
Between 1790 and 1840, Cambridge began to grow rapidly, with the construction of the West Boston Bridge in 1792, that connected Cambridge directly to Boston, making it no longer necessary to travel eight miles (13 km) through the Boston Neck, Roxbury, and Brookline to cross the Charles River. A second bridge, the Canal Bridge, opened in 1809 alongside the new Middlesex Canal. The new bridges and roads made what were formerly estates and marshland into prime industrial and residential districts. Soon after, turnpikes were built: the Cambridge and Concord Turnpike (today's Broadway and Concord Ave.), the Middlesex Turnpike (Hampshire St. and Massachusetts Ave. northwest of Porter Square), and what are today's Cambridge, Main, and Harvard Streets were roads to connect various areas of Cambridge to the bridges. In addition, railroads crisscrossed the town during the same era, leading to the development of Porter Square as well as the creation of neighboring town Somerville from the formerly rural parts of Charlestown.
Cambridge was incorporated as a city in 1846. Its commercial center also began to shift from Harvard Square to Central Square, which became the downtown of the city. Between 1850 and 1900, Cambridge took on much of its present character — streetcar suburban development along the turnpikes, with working-class and industrial neighborhoods focused on East Cambridge, comfortable middle-class housing being built on old estates in Cambridgeport and Mid-Cambridge, and upper-class enclaves near Harvard University and on the minor hills of the city. The coming of the railroad to North Cambridge and Northwest Cambridge then led to three major changes in the city: the development of massive brickyards and brickworks between Massachusetts Ave., Concord Ave. and Alewife Brook; the ice-cutting industry launched by Frederic Tudor on Fresh Pond; and the carving up of the last estates into residential subdivisions to provide housing to the thousands of immigrants that moved to work in the new industries.
For many years, the city's largest employer was the New England Glass Company, founded in 1818. By the middle of the 19th century it was the largest and most modern glassworks in the world. In 1888, all production was moved, by Edmund Drummond Libbey, to Toledo, Ohio, where it continues today under the name Owens Illinois. Flint glassware with heavy lead content, produced by that company, is prized by antique glass collectors. There is none on public display in Cambridge, but there is a large collection in the Toledo Museum of Art.
Among the largest business behemoths located in Cambridge was the firm of Carter's Ink Company, whose neon sign long adorned the Charles River and which was for many years the largest manufacturer of ink in the world.
By 1920, Cambridge was one of the main industrial cities of New England, with nearly 120,000 residents. As industry in New England began to decline during the Great Depression and after World War II, Cambridge lost much of its industrial base. It also began the transition to being an intellectual, rather than an industrial, center. Harvard University had always been important in the city (both as a landowner and as an institution), but it began to play a more dominant role in the city's life and culture. Also, the move of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from Boston in 1912 ensured Cambridge's status as an intellectual center of the United States.
After the 1950s, the city population began to decline slowly, as families tended to be replaced by single people and young couples, and by the end of the twentieth century, Cambridge had one of the most expensive housing markets in the Northeastern United States. The 1980s brought a wave of high technology start-ups, creating software such as Visicalc and Lotus 1-2-3, and advanced computers, but many of these companies fell into decline with the fall of the minicomputer and DOS-based systems.
While maintaining much diversity in class, race, and age, it became harder and harder for those who grew up in the city to be able to afford to stay. The end of rent control in the late 1990s prompted many Cambridge renters to move to housing that was more affordable, in Somerville and other communities.
As of 2006, Cambridge's mix of amenities and proximity to Boston has kept housing prices relatively stable.
There were 42,615 households out of which 17.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.1% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 58.7% were non-families. 41.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.03 and the average family size was 2.83.
In the city the population was spread out with 13.3% under the age of 18, 21.2% from 18 to 24, 38.6% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 96.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $47,979, and the median income for a family was $59,423. Males had a median income of $43,825 versus $38,489 for females. The per capita income for the city was $31,156. About 8.7% of families and 12.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.1% of those under age 18 and 12.9% of those age 65 or over.
Cambridge was ranked as one of the most liberal cities in America. Its residents jokingly refer to it as "The People's Republic of Cambridge." Its FY 2007 residential property tax rate, $7.48 per $1000 of assessed valuation, is one of the lowest in Massachusetts. Cambridge enjoys the highest possible bond credit rating, AAA, with all three Wall Street rating agencies.
Cambridge is noted for its diverse population, both racially and economically. Residents, known as Cantabrigians, range from affluent MIT and Harvard professors to working-class families to immigrants. The first legal applications in America for same-sex marriage licenses were issued at Cambridge's City Hall.
Cambridge is also the birthplace of Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), who is the world's longest reigning monarch at age 80 as well as the longest reigning monarch in Thai history. He is also the first king of a foreign country to be born in the United States.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.1 square miles (18.5 km²), of which, 6.4 square miles (16.7 km²) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km²) of it (9.82%) is water.
The border between Cambridge and the neighboring city of Somerville passes through densely populated neighborhoods which are connected by the MBTA Red Line. Some of the main squares, Inman, Porter, and to a lesser extent, Harvard, are very close to the city line, as are Somerville's Union and Davis Squares.
Cambridge and Somerville, in addition to proximity, have a number of other similarities:
Cambridge has also been called the "City of Squares" by some, as most of its commercial districts are major street intersections known as squares. Each of the squares acts as something of a neighborhood center. These include:
The residential neighborhoods (map) in Cambridge border, but are not defined by the squares. These include:
At the western edge of Cambridge, Mount Auburn Cemetery is well known as the first garden cemetery, for its distinguished inhabitants, for its superb landscaping (the oldest planned landscape in the country), and as a first-rate arboretum.
Cambridge has a 9-member City Council, and a 6-member School Committee. The councilors and school committee members are elected every two years using the single transferable vote (STV) system. Since the disbanding of the New York City Community School Boards in 2002, Cambridge's Council is now unusual in being the only governing body in the United States to still use STV. Once a laborious process that took several days to complete by hand, vote counting is now done by computer.
The mayor is elected by the city councilors from amongst themselves, and serves as the chair of City Council meetings. The mayor also sits on the School Committee. However, the Mayor is not the Chief Executive of the City. Rather, the City Manager, who is appointed by the City Council, serves in that capacity.
Under the City's form of government, called Plan E, "interference with [the] City manager by [the] council [is] forbidden." The penalty is "a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or ... imprisonment of not more than six months, or both, and upon final conviction thereof his office in the city council shall thereby be vacated and he shall never again be eligible for any office or position, elective or otherwise, in the service of the city. CambridgeNeedsReform.org believes that residents have no representation in the management of their own city.
The Cambridge Fire Department is rated as a Class 1 fire department by the Insurance Services Office (ISO), one of only 32 out of 37,000 fire departments in the United States. The only other Class 1 department in New England is the fire department of Hartford, Connecticut.
The latest revision of the ISO’s Fire Suppression Rating Schedule classifies fire protection into 10 categories, Class 1 recognizing the highest level of fire protection and Class 10 recognizing the lowest or no level of fire protection. The Fire Suppression Rating Schedule includes three major sections: Fire Alarm; Fire Department; and Water System. The Fire Alarm section includes the means for the public to report a fire, how the fire department receives the alarm of fire, and how firefighters and companies are alerted and dispatched to the fire. The Fire Department section considers apparatus, equipment, staffing, automatic and mutual aid, prefire planning, and training. The interrelationship of engines, trucks, rescues, and other companies is also considered. The Water System section considers the supply works, main capacity to deliver fire flow, distribution of hydrants, hydrant size, type, and installation, hydrant inspection and condition, and alternative water supplies. Per the 1980 revision of the Fire Suppression Rating Schedule, fire alarm is weighted as 10%, water supply as 40%, and the fire department as 50% of the total survey rating evaluation.
There are many private schools in the city, serving a variety of needs of both parents and students, including:
Cambridge is also home to the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
Over the years, as companies have grown, prospered, and then either moved away or gone out of business (see this list of employers for more information), Cambridge's large-scale employment has shifted tremendously. In 1996, Polaroid, Arthur D. Little, and Lotus were all top employers with over 1,000 people in Cambridge, and all declined or disappeared a few years later. As of 2005, alongside Harvard and MIT, health care and biotechnology dominate the Cambridge economy, with Genzyme, Biogen Idec, and Novartis the biggest players. Biotech's geographical locus is Kendall Square and East Cambridge, the center of much of the city's manufacturing a century before. A number of biotechnology companies are also located in University Park at MIT, a new development in another former manufacturing area. None of the computer-industry firms that once dominated the Cambridge economy are top-20 employers as of 2005. However, many smaller start-ups and entrepreneurial companies remain an important part of the Cambridge employment scene.
Cambridge has an irregular street network because many of the roads date from the colonial era. Contrary to popular belief, the road system did not evolve from longstanding cow-paths. Roads connected various village settlements with each other and nearby towns, and were shaped by geographic features, most notably streams, hills, and swampy areas. Today, the major "squares" are typically connected by long, mostly straight roads, such as Massachusetts Avenue between Harvard Square and Central Square, or Hampshire Street between Kendall Square and Inman Square.
While Bicycling Magazine has rated Boston as one of the worst cities in the nation for bicycling (In their words, for "lousy roads, scarce and unconnected bike lanes and bike-friendly gestures from City Hall that go nowhere – such as hiring a bike coordinator in 2001, only to cut the position two years later"), it has listed Cambridge as an honorable mention as one of the best and was called by the magazine "Boston's Great Hope." Cambridge has an active, official bicycle committee.