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Cambridge, MA: A New Look at Old Cambridge

  • Winthrop Park in Harvard Square 83 Winthrop St Cambridge, MA, 02138 United States (map)
Above Map: Lt. John Hills, "Boston, with the surroundings, &c.," early 1770s, detail. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Above Map: Lt. John Hills, "Boston, with the surroundings, &c.," early 1770s, detail. Courtesy of Library of Congress.

This year’s walk celebrates the 100th anniversary of Jane Jacobs’s birth and, at the same time, explores Cambridge’s original settlement in 1630, the evolving moniker of “Old Cambridge,” and the changes that have taken place – and are still taking place – through the centuries. This walking conversation will begin by looking at traces of the initial village in what is now Harvard Square before venturing down Brattle Street to Longfellow Park, past the Marsh neighborhood, and then back on Mt. Auburn Street. During the eighteenth century, wealthy families built country homes along Brattle Street (later dubbed “Tory Row”), and by the mid-nineteenth century, the Irish arrived, filling and populating the former marsh. Thus, Cambridge became home to a diverse mixture of people in close proximity – with a working-class neighborhood adjacent to one of the richest, most cultured places in New England. After 1800 the new villages of Cambridgeport and East Cambridge distinguished themselves by referring to the original village as “Old Cambridge,” a term sometimes used more pejoratively than sentimentally that remained in use until the 1930s.

As always, we welcome the observations of all participants. Charles Sullivan, executive director of the Cambridge Historical Commission, will lead the walk. He and Susan Maycock, survey director of the Cambridge Historical Commission, are the authors of Building Old Cambridge: Architecture and Development, which will be available in October. More information and a plethora of images will be found in this thoroughly researched volume being published by MIT Press.

Lunch to follow at Grendel’s Den, whose entrance abuts Winthrop Park, where those who wish may continue conversation and purchase lunch. At 89 Winthrop Street, Grendel’s has been independently owned and run by the same family since 1961.

Date & Time: Saturday May 7, 2016 10:30 am to 12:00 pm

Walk Start & Ending Location:
JFK Street between Mt. Auburn and Winthrop Streets in Winthrop Park in Harvard Square. Meet at the large stone marker in the middle of the park.

Host: Glenna Lang,
Author, Genius of Common Sense: The Story of Jane Jacobs and 'The Death and Life of Great American Cities'
Contact Info:

Theme: Walking

Accessibility: This event is accessible and open to Wheelchairs, Bicycles, Seniors, Children, Dogs

Registration: No, all are welcome.