Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard Square May 2000

Cambridge is a city located in Middlesex County, Massachusetts and it is a part of greater Boston. It was named in honour of Cambridge, England, the town where its founding fathers had studied. Cambridge is perhaps most famous for three things: Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the NPR program Car Talk. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 101,355, though even more people commute into the city to work. It and Lowell are the county seats of Middlesex County6.

Table of contents
1 About the city
2 Geography
3 Law and Government
4 Demographics
5 Colleges and Universities
6 External Links

About the city

The diversity of the population is striking -- from the most distinguished Harvard professor to the poorest immigrant from Latin America. This diversity contributes to the liberal atmosphere, and may be compared to Berkeley, California, in some respects. It is often referred to as "The People's Republic of Cambridge" because of the city's famously liberal politics; political organizers often congregate at the Red Line T station in Harvard Square.

Cambridge has been called the city of Squares, most likely because most of its major street intersections are known as Squares. (In the Greater Boston area, a "Square" is merely a major intersection. Very few squares have four sides. Both of these facts stem from the usually stated origin of squares. The traditional square is said to be the result of the arc swept out by timber brought through on roadways to market/port.) Each of the Squares acts as something of a neighborhood center. These include:

Although one often sees references to the "Boston/Cambridge area" in print, Cambridge prefers to retain its own unique identity. This name is quite apt as there are a large number of jobs in Cambridge and parts of Cambridge are more urban than some parts of Boston.


Cambridge is located at 42°22'25" North, 71°6'38" West (42.373746, -71.110554)1.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 18.5 km² (7.1 mi²). 16.7 km² (6.4 mi²) of it is land and 1.8 km² (0.7 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 9.82% water.

Cambridge is bordered by the city of Boston on its south and east (across the Charles River), by the city of Somerville and the town of Arlington to its north, and by the city of Watertown and town of Belmont to its west.

Law and Government

Cambridge has a 9-member City Council, and a 9-member School Committee. The councillors and school committee members are elected every two years using the single transferable vote system of proportional representation. The mayor is elected by the city councillors, from amongst themselves, and serves as the chair of City Council meetings. The mayor also sits on the School Committee. However, the Mayor is not the Chief Executive of the City. Rather, the City Manager, who is appointed by the City Council, serves in that capacity.


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 101,355 people, 42,615 households, and 17,599 families residing in the city. The population density is 6,086.1/km² (15,766.1/mi²). There are 44,725 housing units at an average density of 2,685.6/km² (6,957.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 68.10% White, 11.92% African American, 0.29% Native American, 11.88% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 3.19% from other races, and 4.56% from two or more races. 7.36% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 42,615 households out of which 17.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.1% are married couples living together, 9.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 58.7% are non-families. 41.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.2% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.03 and the average family size is 2.83.

In the city the population is spread out with 13.3% under the age of 18, 21.2% from 18 to 24, 38.6% from 25 to 44, 17.8% from 45 to 64, and 9.2% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 30 years. For every 100 females there are 96.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 94.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $47,979, and the median income for a family is $59,423. Males have a median income of $43,825 versus $38,489 for females. The per capita income for the city is $31,156. 12.9% of the population and 8.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 15.1% are under the age of 18 and 12.9% are 65 or older.

Colleges and Universities

External Links