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Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, situated directly north of Boston, across the Charles River. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent universities, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Cambridge has also been home to Radcliffe College, once one of the leading colleges for women in the United States before it merged with Harvard. It is the fifth most populous city in the state, behind Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and Lowell.
Cambridge was incorporated as a city in 1846. This was despite noticeable tensions between East Cambridge, Cambridgeport, and Old Cambridge that stemmed from differences in each area's culture, sources of income, and the national origins of the residents. The city's commercial center began to shift from Harvard Square to Central Square, which became the downtown of the city around this time. Between 1850 and 1900, Cambridge took on much of its present character—streetcar suburban development along the turnpikes, with working-class and industrial neighborhoods focused on East Cambridge, comfortable middle-class housing being built on old estates in Cambridgeport and Mid-Cambridge, and upper-class enclaves near Harvard University and on the minor hills of the city. The coming of the railroad to North Cambridge and Northwest Cambridge then led to three major changes in the city: the development of massive brickyards and brickworks between Massachusetts Ave., Concord Ave. and Alewife Brook; the ice-cutting industry launched by Frederic Tudor on Fresh Pond; and the carving up of the last estates into residential subdivisions to provide housing to the thousands of immigrants that arrived to work in the new industries.
For many decades, the city's largest employer was the New England Glass Company, founded in 1818. By the middle of the 19th century it was the largest and most modern glassworks in the world. In 1888, all production was moved, by Edward Drummond Libbey, to Toledo, Ohio, where it continues today under the name Owens Illinois. Flint glassware with heavy lead content, produced by that company, is prized by antique glass collectors today. There is none on public display in Cambridge, but there is a large collection in the Toledo Museum of Art. There are also a few pieces in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and in the Sandwich (Cape Cod, MA) Glass Museum.
Among the largest businesses located in Cambridge was the firm of Carter's Ink Company, whose neon sign long adorned the Charles River and which was for many years the largest manufacturer of ink in the world.
By 1920, Cambridge was one of the main industrial cities of New England, with nearly 120,000 residents. As industry in New England began to decline during the Great Depression and after World War II, Cambridge lost much of its industrial base. It also began the transition to being an intellectual, rather than an industrial, center. Harvard University had always been important in the city (both as a landowner and as an institution), but it began to play a more dominant role in the city's life and culture. When Radcliffe College was established in 1879 the town became a mecca for some of the nation's most academically talented female students. Also, the move of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from Boston in 1916 ensured Cambridge's status as an intellectual center of the United States.
After the 1950s, the city's population began to decline slowly, as families tended to be replaced by single people and young couples. The 1980s brought a wave of high-technology startups, creating software such as Visicalc and Lotus 1-2-3, and advanced computers, but many of these companies fell into decline with the fall of the minicomputer and DOS-based systems. However, the city continues to be home to many startups as well as a thriving biotech industry. By the end of the 20th century, Cambridge had one of the most expensive housing markets in the Northeastern United States.
While maintaining much diversity in class, race, and age, it became harder and harder for those who grew up in the city to be able to afford to stay. The end of rent control in 1994 prompted many Cambridge renters to move to housing that was more affordable, in Somerville and other communities. In 2005, a reassessment of residential property values resulted in a disproportionate number of houses owned by non-affluent people jumping in value relative to other houses, with hundreds having their property tax increased by over 100%; this forced many homeowners in Cambridge to move elsewhere.
As of 2012, Cambridge's mix of amenities and proximity to Boston has kept housing prices relatively stable despite the bursting of the United States housing bubble. Cambridge has been a sanctuary city since 1985 and reaffirmed its status as such in 2006.
Cambridge Zip Codes: 02138, 02139, 02140, 02141, 02142
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