Building Old Cambridge
Old Cambridge is the traditional name of the once-isolated community that grew up around the early settlement of Newtowne, which served briefly as the capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and then became the site of Harvard College. This abundantly illustrated volume from the Cambridge Historical Commission traces the development of the neighborhood as it became a suburban community and bustling intersection of town and gown. Based on the city’s comprehensive architectural inventory and drawing extensively on primary sources, Building Old Cambridge considers how the social, economic, and political history of Old Cambridge influenced its architecture and urban development.
Old Cambridge was famously home to such figures as the proscribed Tories William Brattle and John Vassall; authors Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Dean Howells; publishers Charles C. Little, James Brown, and Henry O. Houghton; developer Gardiner Greene Hubbard, a founder of Bell Telephone; and Charles Eliot, the landscape architect. Throughout its history, Old Cambridge property owners have engaged some of the country’s most talented architects, including Peter Harrison, H. H. Richardson, Eleanor Raymond, Carl Koch, and Benjamin Thompson.
The authors explore Old Cambridge’s architecture and development in the context of its social and economic history; the development of Harvard Square as a commercial center and regional mass transit hub; the creation of parks and open spaces designed by Charles Eliot and the Olmsted Brothers; and the formation of a thriving nineteenth-century community of booksellers, authors, printers, and publishers that made Cambridge a national center of the book industry. Finally, they examine Harvard’s relationship with Cambridge and the community's often impassioned response to the expansive policies of successive Harvard administrations.
About the Authors
Susan E. Maycock is an architectural historian and Survey Director of the Cambridge Historical Commission.
Charles M. Sullivan, a city planner, has been Executive Director of the Cambridge Historical Commission since 1974.