Cambridge Historical Commission

  • Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge, Second Edition

    East Cambridge

    Cambridge Historical Commission

    This series, called the Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge, was among the first inventories of its kind in America.

    Shortly after the Cambridge Historical Commission was established it embarked on the task of surveying Cambridge's architectural resources. The Commission published five reports, from 1964 to 1977, on each area of the city. This series, called the Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge, was among the first inventories of its kind in America. This new edition of East Cambridge, the first report, appears at a time when the neighborhood is experiencing increasing development pressures, making it a particularly valuable resource on the area's history and growth for residents, planners, and outside investors. Although its primary focus remains architectural, the second edition includes the results of extensive primary source research on the district's colonial history, industrial development, and social history. It breaks new ground by correlating city directory and census data with the types of workers' housing built in the period from 1820 to 1870. Development is not new to East Cambridge. Established on an isolated island in the salt marshes opposite Boston in 1809, it became the first part of Cambridge to undergo industrial expansion and attracted great numbers of immigrants during the mid-nineteenth century. The substantial Federal brick houses built on speculation by the Lechmere Point Corporation gave way to modest workers' cottages in the early 1820s. This building type soon became characteristic of the community densely populated, working class, with a distinctive architecture that still largely survives.

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  • Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge, Volume 3


    Cambridge Historical Commission

    Cambridge, Massachusetts is a rich mixture of closely mingled examples of architectural periods; 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th century, with the 21st century already near the drawing board and before the planning board. Yet implicit in the city is a continuity overruling what might be chaos. The Cambridge Historical Commission was established not to piously preserve a static past, but to make manifest this living continuity between the best that has gone before and the best that can be actively encouraged for the future. The Survey may represent the last, best hope of establishing such a sense of continuity (both historical and architectural), because Cambridge is in the midst of a period of decisive, even divisive, change; an invasion of automobiles demanding new highways, institutional expansion into residential areas, the possible destruction of viable neighborhoods that are both socially and architecturally cohesive by projects that are likely to be only temporary encampments in the longer view. This Report surveys the Cambridgeport neighborhood, which, as its name suggests, lies along a waterway; it is embraced by a bend in the Charles River.

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