1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cambridge (Massachusetts)

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CAMBRIDGE, a city and one of the county-seats of Middlesex county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., situated on the Charles river, in the outskirts of Boston, of which it is in effect a part, although under separate government. Pop. (1880) 52,669; (1890) 70,028; (1900) 91,886; (1910 census) 104,839. Of the total population in 1900, 30,446 were foreign-born, including 11,235 Irish, 9613 English Canadians, 1944 English, 1483 French Canadians and 1584 Swedish; and 54,200 were of foreign parentage (both parents foreign-born), including 24,961 of Irish parentage, 9829 of English-Canadian parentage, 2587 of English parentage, and 2288 of French-Canadian parentage. Cambridge is entered directly by only one railway, the Boston & Maine. The township, now practically built over by the city, contained originally several separate villages, the names of which are still used as a convenience in designating corresponding sections of the municipality: Old Cambridge, North Cambridge, Cambridgeport and East Cambridge, the last two being manufacturing and commercial districts.

Old Cambridge is noted as the seat of Harvard University (q.v.) and as a literary and scientific centre. Radcliffe College (1879), for women, practically a part of Harvard; an Episcopal Theological School (1867), and the New Church (Swedenborgian or New Jerusalem) Theological School (1866) are other educational institutions of importance. To Cambridge also, in 1908, was removed Andover Theological Seminary, a Congregational institution chartered in 1807, opened in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1808 (re-incorporated under separate trustees in 1907). This seminary is one of the oldest and most famous theological institutions in the United States; it grew out of the theological teaching previously given in Phillips Academy, and was founded by the widow of Lt.-Governor Samuel Phillips, her son John Phillips and Samuel Abbot (1732-1812). The instruction was strongly Calvinistic in the earlier period, but the seminary has always been “equally open to Protestants of every denomination.” Very liberal aid is given to students, and there is no charge for tuition. The Bibliotheca Sacra, founded in 1843 by Edward Robinson and in 1844 taken over by Professors Bela B. Edwards and Edwards A. Park, and the Andover Review (1884-1893), have been the organs of the seminary. In 1886 some of its professors published Progressive Orthodoxy, a book which made a great stir by its liberal tone, its opposition to supernaturalism and its evident trend toward the methods of German “higher criticism.” Legal proceedings for the removal of five professors, after the publication of this book, failed; and their successful defence helped to secure greater freedom in thought and in instruction in American Presbyterian and Congregational theological seminaries. The seminary is now affiliated with Harvard University, though it remains independent and autonomous.

Cambridge is a typical New England city, built up in detached residences, with irregular streets pleasantly shaded, and a considerable wealth of historic and literary associations. There are many reminders of the long history of Harvard, and of the War of Independence. Cambridge was the site of the camp of the first American army, at the outbreak of the war, and from it went the detachment which intrenched on Bunker’s Hill. Here are the Apthorp House (built in 1760), in which General Burgoyne and his officers were lodged as prisoners of war in 1777; the elm under which, according to tradition, Washington took command of the Continental Army on the 3rd of July 1775; the old Vassall or Craigie House (1759), where Washington lived in 1775-1776, and which was later the home of Edward Everett, Joseph E. Worcester, Jared Sparks and (1837-1882) Henry W. Longfellow. Elbridge Gerry lived and James Russell Lowell was born, lived and died in “Elmwood” (built in 1767); Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge also; John Fiske, the historian, lived here; and there are many other literary associations, attractive and important for those interested in American letters. In Mt Auburn Cemetery are buried many artists, poets, scholars and other men and women of fame. Cambridge is one of the few American cities possessing a crematorium (1900). The municipal water-works are excellent. A handsome bridge joining Cambridgeport to Boston (cost about $2,250,000) was opened late in 1906. Four other bridges span the Charles river between the two cities. A dam between East Cambridge and Boston, traversed by a roadway 150 ft. wide, was in the process of construction in 1907; and an extension of the Boston subway into Cambridge to the grounds of Harvard University, a distance of about 3 m., was projected. The city government is administered almost entirely under the state civil-service laws, Cambridge having been a leader in the adoption of its provisions. A non-partisan association for political reform did excellent work from 1890 to 1900, when it was superseded by a non-partisan party. Since 1887 the city has declared yearly by increasing majorities for prohibition of the liquor traffic. The high schools enjoy a notable reputation. A handsome city hall (cost $235,000) and public library (as well as a manual training school) were given to the city by Frederick H. Rindge, a one-time resident, whose benefactions to Cambridge aggregated in value $650,000. Cambridge has many manufacturing establishments, and in 1905 the city’s factory products were valued at $42,407,064, an increase of 45.8% over their value in 1900. The principal manufactures are slaughtering and meat-packing products, foundry and machine-shop products, rubber boots and shoes, rubber belting and hose, printing and publishing products, carpentering, pianos and organs, confectionery and furniture. Cambridge is one of the chief publishing centres of the country. The tax valuation of property in 1906 ($105,153,235) was more than $1000 per inhabitant.

Cambridge is “one of the few American towns that may be said to have owed their very name and existence to the pursuit of letters” (T. W. Higginson). Its site was selected in 1630 by Governor Winthrop and others as suitable for fortifications and defence, and it was intended to make it the capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; but as Boston's peninsular position gave it the advantage in commerce and in defence against the Indians, the plan fell through, although up to 1638 various sessions of the general court and particular courts were held here. The township records (published) are continuous since 1632. A direct tax for the wooden “pallysadoe” about Cambridge led the township of Watertown in 1632 to make the first protest in America against taxation without representation. The settlement was first known as the “New Towne,” but in 1638 was named Cambridge in honour of the English Cambridge, where several score of the first immigrants to the colony were educated. The oldest college in America (Harvard) was founded here in 1636. In 1639 there was set up in Cambridge the first printing press of British North America (Boston having none until 1676). Other notable dates in history are 1637 and 1647, when general synods of New England churches met at Cambridge to settle disputed doctrine and define orthodoxy; the departure for Connecticut of Thomas Hooker's congregation in 1636; the meeting of the convention that framed the present constitution of the commonwealth, 1779-1780; the separation of the Congregationalists and Unitarians of the first parish church, in 1829; and the grant of a city charter in 1846. The original township of Cambridge was very large, and there have been successively detached from it, Newton (1691), Lexington (1713), Brighton (1837) and Arlington (1867).

See Lucius R. Paige, History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1877 (Boston, Mass., 1877); T. W. Higginson, Old Cambridge (New York, 1899); Arthur Gilman (ed.), The Cambridge of Eighteen Hundred and Ninety-Six (Cambridge, 1896); and Historic Guide to Cambridge (Cambridge, 1907.).