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The Dense Layers of History in “Old Cambridge”

  • Cambridge, MA 02138 (map)
Photo by Charles Sullivan

Photo by Charles Sullivan

Our 9th annual Jane’s walk will continue last year’s exploration of Cambridge’s original settlement, radiating from the site of the initial village of Newtowne in what is now Harvard Square. This walking conversation will begin at the Harvard Square Subway Kiosk, built in 1928, now occupied by Out of Town News, diagonally across from Abbot Building – home to Curious George – and its abutters, all currently the subject of controversy over their future form and use. We will take a look at the dense layers of history that have endured the centuries, not yet victims of what Jane Jacobs called “cataclysmic money.” This closely built, low-rise area – a lively mix of commercial, residential, and Harvard University’s institutional structures – has changed incrementally over time and managed to retain much of its historic character. As we proceed east down Mass. Ave. and wind through narrow side streets towards the Charles River, we will look at many gems such as the Clover Restaurant’s uncovered tiles, the 1760 Rev. East Apthorp house, St. Paul’s Church, private dormitories and final clubs as well as traces of the Irish immigrant neighborhood that was displaced by Harvard’s River Houses in the early 20th century. Walkers will ponder how best old buildings can survive and remain viable.

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,. Published in fall 2016 by The MIT Press, this beautifully written book, profusely illustrated with historic images, is now available in your local bookstores.

Lunch to follow at Grendel’s Den,  89 Winthrop Street, 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.

Meet in front of the Out of Town News kiosk, on the “island” in Harvard Square just steps from the T station.

Date: May 6, 2017
Time: 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Event Start/End: In front of the Out of Town News kiosk, on the “island” in Harvard Square just steps from the T station.

Host:  Charles Sullivan, executive director of the Cambridge Historical Commission.

Event Organizer: Glenna Lang, Author, Genius of Common Sense: The Story of Jane Jacobs and 'The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Theme: Walking

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

Registration: No, all are welcome.