Cambridge neighborhood Digital Guide

Recommendations from Off The Beaten Path Food Tours including our Official Tasting Spots. Trust us, they're worth a visit.

Harvard Square, Cambridge guide

Cambridge Guide

An area that includes the present-day Harvard Square was founded in 1630 as the Puritan village of Newtowne, which would become Cambridge in 1638. Many of the original narrow and cobblestone streets still exist, including parts of Church, Story, Eliot, Arrow, and Mount Auburn Streets. And a few early 18th-century wood-frame houses on Winthrop, Dunster, and South Streets remain as well.  

The name Harvard Square did not become popular until the middle of the 19th century. In fact, Harvard Square was always a hot bed of culture, and it exploded in popularity in the 1960’s, which has only grown stronger especially as transportation strengthened. In fact, on February 20, 1950, the Cambridge City Council approved a recommendation to extend the Boston subway to Alewife which then forever changed the Square when it came to fruition in the 1980’s.  

The sunken area next to the MBTA subway entrance was called “The Pit” and became a prime area for artsy, marginalized populations such as political activists, beggars, skateboarders, and street performers. Historic Brattle Street has also always been festive, where people like Tracy Chapman performed as a busker. In fact, the music scene of Harvard Square has always been strong, with Joan Baez being discovered at Club Passim and Bob Dylan playing there as well. 

The food scene has changed quite rapidly with the skyrocketing rents which drove out such favorites as The Tasty, Mug N Muffin, The Greenhouse, Patisserie Francoise, Finale, and even the famous Au Bon Pain. However, if you search hard enough you’ll find some unique concepts and items that still exist, some independent cafes and restaurants, and lots of things that are very “Hahvahd.”

Central Square, Cambridge

A sign that reads Central Square MBTA stop in Central Square, MA.
Central Square is one of Cambridge’s most diverse communities and has always been a center of commerce with its close proximity to Boston. Waves of immigrants have arrived in Central Square since its start. In the 1940’s and 50’s, this area was considered Cambridge’s “downtown” and today it has earned its designation as an official Business Improvement District and Cultural District. 

The Central Square Mural Project was born in 2018 out of a desire to shape the narrative of Central Square while providing local artists the opportunity to express themselves in a public, curated medium. Today there are over 15 colorful and thought provoking murals in Central Square.

Kendall Square, Cambridge

Our Cambridge Digital Guide
Long an industrial area of Boston, Kendall Square is densely packed with all sorts of research laboratories, university buildings, and pharma and biotech centers. Back in the 20th century, it was once selected as the future site of NASA, but when they moved to Texas it left a gaping hole in the Kendall Square plans. 

Today the city has been revitalized and is thriving not only commercially but the restaurant scene as well. If you visit Kendall, you may rub elbows with the next great scientist or tech innovator.
 

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