Cambridge Massachusetts, 1890


CAMBRIDGE
(L. Cantabridgia), the seat of Harvard College, is opulent and elegant city, forming the southeastern extremity of Middlesex County, of which it is the semi-capital. Somerville lies along its northeast side; Boston, on the eastern, southeastern, southern and southwestern sides (Brighton district); Watertown, on its extreme northwestern side; Belmont on the west, and Arlington on the northwest. Charles River forms the entire eastern and southern boundary lines.

The extreme length of the territory is nearly four miles by one and three fourths. The assessed area is 3,487 acres. The population, in 1885, was 59,658. The number of dwelling-houses in 1888 was 9,927 and the valuation $62,450,040, with a tax-rate of $15 on $1,000. The city consists of four sections (or villages without unoccupied spaces between), North Cambridge, Old Cambridge (centre), East Cambridge, and Cambridgeport; and these, with Mount Auburn, are the post-offices. East Cambridge is connected with Charlestown by Prison Point Bridge, and with Boston by Canal or Craigie's Bridge and the viaduct of the Boston and Lowell Railroad. Cambridgeport is united with Boston by West Boston Bridge, a broad and well-made thoroughfare, 6,190 feet in length, and having a draw for passing vessels, and by the Harvard Bridge, a new and admirable structure of iron, 2,169 feet long and 70 wide, and resting upon 23 stone piers; with a revolving draw for vessels, 34 feet wide. Another drawbridge further up the river opens a direct way to Brookline, and three or more connect the city with the Brighton district of Boston. In addition to Charles River, a broad and navigable tidal stream, which winds gracefully around its southern frontier, the city has on its southwest border an important natural body of water known as Fresh Pond, containing 175 acres, and affording, not only ice for storage and a broad area for skating in the winter, but also a supply of water for the city throughout the year. It still sends out a small tributary called "Alewive Brook" (anciently Menotomy River) which flows along the northwestern border of the city into Mystic River.

[the Observatory, Cambridge.]

The surface of Cambridge is for the most part level, and, in some sections on the margins of the streams, low and marshy; but there are slight eminences, as Dana Hill, between Cambridgeport and Old Cambridge, and the grounds of the Observatory in the western section, which present admirable sites for building, and command delightful views. The soil is rich and moist, clay being abundant; and the flora is remarkably varied and luxuriant. The principal thoroughfares are Main Street, Harvard Street, Broadway, radiating from West Boston Bridge through Cambridgeport; and Cambridge Street from Craigie's (or Canal) Bridge, through East Cambridge, to Harvard Square in Old Cambridge; North Avenue extending thence to North Cambridge; Concord Avenue, to Belmont; and Brattle and Mount Auburn streets, to Mount Auburn and Watertown. These broad and beautiful avenues are shaded with ancient elms, and lined, mostly, with elegant mansions that, in many instances, have lawns and gardens ornamented with shrubbery, statuary and fountains. Over these highways cars are constantly running for the accommodation of the people. The city has over 85 miles of streets; and of these, more than half are adorned with shade-trees. The Boston and Lowell Railroad passes through East Cambridge, having also a station at North Cambridge; while the Fitchburg Railroad, entering the city on the north side, has its "Cambridge " station; another at North Cambridge (' Brickyards "), and on the west, Fresh Pond, Hotel and Mount Auburn stations. On the south side, just across the Charles, the Boston and Albany Railroad has Cottage Farm station. The Grand Junction Railroad sweeps around the east side and to the New York and New England Railroad in Brookline, thus connecting all the roads.

The citizens of Cambridge are intimately allied with those of Boston in respect to business pursuits and social life. They are very generally urbane, patriotic and progressive and are educated and intelligent to an unusual degree. Many of them are engaged exclusively in literary pursuits; and a large number of families reside here for the educational advantages which the city and the university afford.

The manufactures show great variety. Along the water-front are groups of rolling-mills, founderies, boiler-works and machine shops. Around the west-end cemeteries and at other points are granite and marble-cutting yards. At the north are the brickyards; on the northeast the tanneries. At East Cambridge are two large glass factories, this business having begun here in 1815. The Riverside and University presses turn out from their printing houses and binderies large quantities of books of the best workmanship, their product in 1885 reaching the value of $1,814,762; the iron and other metallic goods manufactured amounted to $2,369,438; the wooden goods, to $1,472,579;leather, $544,120; and food products, $1,595,989; the aggregate manufactures of the city reaching the value of $15,502,373. In the eastern and northern parts of the city are the numerous soap factories and meat-packing establishments, a sugar refinery, a great cracker and cake factory, an extensive fire-proof safe, a rubber, chair and furniture, piano and organ, factories, and numerous other industries. At the extreme southerly point of the city are a picturesque group of buildings, consisting of shops and observatories, where Alvan Clark and Sons construct the telescopes for which they have a world-wide reputation. In the agricultural line, market gardening is followed by a few persons, and much attention is given to the cultivation of fruits; yet beauty more than profit seems in general to influence the proprietors of the soil. The city has seven banks of discount, one co-operative bank and four savings banks; the aggregate deposits of the latter being, at the close of last year, $6,945,354.

Beside the old city hall at Cambridgeport, which had become insufficient for government purposes, there is a new and beautiful city hall constructed of brown and light-colored stone, of simple but elegant architecture, presented by Mr. Frederick Rindge, of San Francisco, a native of the place. The same gentleman has also presented a fine building for the library; the latter, in J885, containing about 20,000 volumes. An institute named in honor of Thomas Dowse sustains a course of public lectures annually. There is also a horticultural association, with several others having libraries; and the usual social, political, business and religious organizations. Though so near a city of great journals, the place sustains several of its own; as the "Daily Crimson;" the "Chronicle," the " Gazette," the "News," and "Real Estate Advertiser," the "Press," the "Tribune," weeklies, with "Our Mutual Friend," and "Psyche," which are monthlies; then there is the "Latin School Review," also a monthly, established in 1886, and edited by the pupils of the school; together with the collegiate journals the " Harvard Advocate " and the " Harvard Lampoon" which are bi-weeklies. The city schools are in the highest degree of efficiency, of the usual approved grading, and also include normal and training schools for teachers. They occupy 35 buildings, valued, with appurtenances, at nearly $900,000.

Harvard University (earlier, "Harvard College," as it is still familiarly called), founded in September, 1636, is not only the oldest, but perhaps the best endowed and most extensive institution of the kind in America. The college lands, lying in a compact body, but divided into spaces of various form and extent by fine, shaded avenues, embrace an area of about sixty acres, and are occupied by as many buildings. In closer proximity, in the college yard of 22 acres, stand the substantial structures used for lodgings, recitations, museum, library, law-school, public worship and other purposes. On the same grounds, east of these stately buildings, are the residences of the president and some of the professors, surrounded by shrubbery and embowered in ancient trees. One of these halls dates from 1682, and Holden Chapel from 1741. In addition to this group of classic halls and private residences, the university has, on the north, the Lawrence Scientific School, the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Divinity Hall, the Sanders Theatre and Memorial Hall, and other noble buildings, surrounded by lofty elms; and on an eminence half a mile to the west, on Garden Street, is the Cambridge Observatory, with its grand refracting telescope; and another interesting appurtenance of the college, near by, is the Botanic Garden. The noted University Annex for Women, so highly regarded, was founded in 1879, and has beautiful grounds and buildings not far from the college grounds. The commodious edifices of the Dental School and of the Medical School are in Boston, where the greatest facilities of illustration and practice, in offices and in the several hospitals, are conveniently at hand.

[Gore Hall, Harvard College.]

This university is worthy of its name, making provision, as has been observed, not only for the study of what are called the learned professions, -- divinity, law and medicine, -- but also for that of dentistry, mining, agriculture and other liberal arts and sciences. The university libraries aggregate upwards of 350,000 bound volumes and some 300,000 pamphlets. The number of students is about 1,300, with an increasing average. Near by, and closely associated with the university, is the elegant group of buildings belonging to the Episcopal Theological School; and adjoining the college grounds is the pleasing establishment of the New Church Theological School (Swedenborgian), recently removed hither from Boston.

[home of the poet Longfellow, Cambridge.]

There are thirty-six religious societies in Cambridge having houses of worship. The Trinitarian Congregationalists have five churches; the Episcopalians, six; the Baptists, eight; the Methodists, six; the Roman Catholics, four; the Unitarians, two; the Universalists, three; a non-sectarian society, Appleton Chapel, belonging to the university. The Reformed Episcopalians hold meetings in a hall. Of these the First Parish (Unitarian) was organized in 1636; the First Church, or Shepard Memorial (Trinitarian), organized at the same time (or in 1628); the First Baptist, in 1817; the Trinity Methodist Society, 1823; First Society (Universalist), 1822; Saint Peter's (R. C.), 1849; most of the others being more recent. Christ Church, on Garden Street, erected in 1761, has a pleasing chime of bells. The St. John's Memorial Chapel, though not large, is, in point of symmetry, grace and finish, one of the most beautiful Gothic structures in the country. The Shepard Memorial Church is one of the largest and most costly of the edifices, being valued at $115,000; while the Old Cambridge Baptist edifice, on Beck's Park, erected in 1868, is valued at $120,000, and is well regarded as an ornament to the city.

Old Cambridge is a vicinity of patriotic memories. On the Common stands the fine architectural monument of granite, surmounted by a statue, erected to the memory of the 470 men lost in the late war, out of the 3,600 furnished by this city for the army and navy; while in her beautiful Memorial Hall, near by, the university honors the list of her fallen brave in the same war. On one side of the Common stands the famous " Washington Elm," under whose shadow the "Father of his Country " took command of the Continental army on the 3d day of July, 1775; on Brattle Street is the "Craigie House," the fine old mansion which was his headquarters while in Cambridge, now for many years the home of the poet Longfellow and his family. On Main Street, Cambridgeport, is the Ralph Inman Place, the headquarters of Gen. Israel Putnam during the siege of Boston. 'The several parks of the city, Cambridge Common, with its statues, Broadway Park, Prospect Junction, Dana Square, Fort Washington, Tudor Park, Hastings Square, Chestnut and Henry Junction, Winthrop Square, Winthrop and Mount Auburn Junction, and others, will, in the not distant future, even more than now, add to the attractiveness of the city.

The extensive works of the New England Glass Company, at East Cambridge, having a chimney 230 feet in height; the Hovey nurseries on Cambridge Street; the Cambridge Water-Works; and the celebrated Fresh Pond, are also worthy of visit; to say nothing of the elegant homes of people well known in science and literature which may delight the eyes upon the way. But to many the beautiful shaded avenues, the picturesque scenes. the storied monuments, and the sacred associations of Mount Auburn, which lies on the southwesterly line of this city where it joins Watertown, will be most attractive. Next to Pere-la-chaise, in Paris, this is one of the earliest of rural cemeteries, having been dedicated September 24, 1831. It contains an area of about 136 acres, the highest part of which is 175 feet above Charles River, which flows along its southern border. The scenery is remarkably varied by wooded hill, valley and lake; and these natural features the landscape gardener has turned to more delightful effect. The gateway is massive, built from an Egyptian model; and within are great numbers of fine or unique monuments to attract the attention. The first on the left of the main entrance is that of John Gaspar Spurzheim, who died in 1832, and is an exact copy of the tomb of Scipio Africanus. A chapel of stone, with its interior decorated by statuary, stands conveniently near the entrance, for funeral services. Shaded avenues for carriages follow winding courses to every quarter of the enclosure, and between them, through dells, past fountains, over knolls, are paths, taking name, in many instances, from the particular trees or shrubs which adorn them, leading from circumference to centre, over higher and higher eminences, until the hill-top is reached. Here, rising above the dense masses of foliage that crowd about the summit, is a lofty stone tower, whose balcony and cupola afford grand views of river and pond, hill and dale, of the busy cities, rural villages and quiet farms beyond the leaf-hidden city of the dead.

The settlement of Cambridge was commenced in the spring of 1631; and the place was at first called "New-Town." "In the ensuing year a palisade was made around the buildings; and the Braintree Company, which had begun to set down at Mount Wollaston, by order of the court, removes to New-Town." On the 11th of October, 1633, the Rev. Thomas Hooker, who had just arrived from England with John Cotton, Samuel Stone, and others, was ordained pastor of the church. Mr. Hooker and his people disposed of their houses and lands to the Rev. Thomas Shepard and his company, and set out for Connecticut in June, 1636. In the same year Mr. Shepard was ordained pastor of a new church organized in place of the one which had left with Mr. Hooker.

A locality to which Captain John Smith attached its Indian name, Anmoughcawgen, was renamed by Prince Charles, as "Cambridge," which has since been generally accepted as the place which now bears that name in Massachusetts. The place was incorporated under the name of New-Town, Sept. 8, 1633; and, on receiving for the school the sum of about £800 from the Rev. John Harvard- of Charlestown in 1638, it was agreed to raise the school to a college, and, in honor of Mr. Harvard and others, to change the name, New-Town, to Cambridge, where so many of them had received their education. In 1639 a printing press was set up by Stephen Day in the house of Pres. Henry Dunster; and the next year there issued from it a version of the Psalms in metre, which was the first book printed in British America. In 1642 Cambridge embraced "Menotomy," now Arlington; the "Farms," now Lexington; the lands on the Shawsheen, now Billerica; and Nonantum, afterwards called New Cambridge, and at present Newton. Parts of Charlestown were annexed to Cambridge, March 6, 1802, Feb. 12, 1818, and June 17, 1820. It was incorporated as a city March 17, 1846; and on the 30th day of the same month the act was accepted by the people. The motto is, "Literas antiqvis novis instvtis decora."

The growth of the city has of late been rapid; and indications of improvement manifest themselves on every hand.

For its educational facilities, literary and scientific culture, its amenities in social life, and its municipal arrangements, Cambridge holds an enviable reputation. Its past is honorable; its present, with some exceptions, admirable; its future, brilliant.

From the commencement of the Revolution to its close, Cambridge evinced an earnest and unwavering patriotism; and it has the honor of having raised the first company in the country which volunteered for the suppression of the Rebellion.

As might well be supposed, Cambridge has produced many eminent persons, among whom may be mentioned:

Jonathan Belcher (1682-1757), Richard Dana (1699-1772), William Brattle, F.R.S. (1702-1776), William Eustis, LL.D. (1753-1825), Jonathan Sewell, LL.D. (1766-1839), Frederic Henry Hedge, D.D. (1805), Alfred Lee, D.D. (1807), George Livermore (1809-1865), Oliver Wendell Holmes, M.D. (1809), Sarah Margaret Fuller, Countess D'Ossoli (1810-1850), Richard Henry Dana, Jun. (1815), James Russell Lowell (1819), Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823), and Mary Andrews Denison (1826).

pp. 213-220  in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer