The Streets of Cambridge- Some Accounts of Their Origin And History

Author: 
Lewis Morey Hastings
Volume: 
14
Pages: 
31-78
Years: 
1919
Copyright: 
1926
Publishers: 
Cambridge Historical Society

 

THE STREETS OF CAMBRIDGE

SOME ACCOUNT OF THEIR ORIGIN AND HISTORY

  BY LEWIS MOREY HASTINGS, City Engineer

 

THE Rev. Horace Bushnell, a well-known divine and theologian of this country, wrote these rather remarkable words: "The road is that physical sign or symbol by which you will best understand any age or people. If they have no roads, they are savages, for the road is a type of civilized society. If you wish to know whether society is stagnant, learning scholastic, religion a dead formality, you may learn something by going into universities and libraries, but quite as much by looking at the roads; for if there is any motion to society, the road, which is the symbol of motion, will indicate the fact. When there is activity, or enlargement, or a liberalizing spirit of any kind, then there is intercourse and travel, and these require roads!"

If these words are true, then the extent and condition of the roads of a country may be regarded as an index of its progress, a kind of exponent of the power to which its civilization has been raised.

Thus the rough mountain paths, the desert camel caravan tracks, and the primitive unfinished ways which the ancient eastern peoples used for centuries, clearly typify the simple pastoral life and uncultured civilization which existed in those early times.

Later the mighty military spirit and civilization of the great Roman Empire, at its zenith during the first centuries of the Christian era, was well expressed by its system of military roads and viaducts reaching all parts of the Empire, then embracing nearly the entire civilized world, many ruins of which remain to this day objects of wonder and interest to all travellers.

And again, the more refined and cultured civilization of the French Republic is well typified by its system of carefully planned and highly finished national roads and highways.

But perhaps no better illustration can be given than that of our own country. When the Pilgrims landed on these shores, nearly three hundred years ago, they found only a crude and savage civilization and the most primitive means of communication — simply the natural

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streams and such trails as the Indians' own feet had made. These means, however, had served the needs of the simple people for an unknown number of centuries. No progress had been made because the needs of the civilization did not require it. With the coming of the white man, however, a new civilization was introduced, which quickly led to the construction of highways and the establishment of ferries and fords at stream crossings.

Slowly, and by the expenditure of vast amounts of labor and money, these highways were extended and improved, the ferries and fords were replaced by bridges and viaducts, and the tremendous natural obstacles of immense distances, wide streams, and heavy grades found in many parts of the country were overcome, and works in highway construction of great magnitude commensurate with the wealth and civilization of the country have been carried out. By these means, the freest intercourse between all parts of the country in commerce, trade, and social life is now possible and easy, and the standards of living and the culture of the people have been correspondingly raised.

It is proposed, in the pages which follow, to show something of the way in which the great natural disadvantages of situation and topography, which existed in the original site chosen for the future town of Cambridge, were overcome, and a system of highways and bridges constructed adequate and convenient for local use, and now an important part of the highway system of the great metropolitan district.

 

EARLY HISTORY (1631-1775)

Prior to the decision of the little company led by Governor John Winthrop and Deputy-Governor Thomas Dudley, on December 28, 1630, to start on the banks of the Charles River a settlement soon to be known as "New Towne" and later as "Cambridge," other settlements had been formed in the near vicinity. Salem was founded in 1628; in June, 1629, Charlestown had been founded; while Boston, Dorchester, and Watertown had been founded and settlements begun early in 1630. These dates are important because the first highway to which the inhabitants of Newtowne had access was the "path from Watertown to Charlestown," so often referred to in the early town records. This way or path led from the center of Watertown to Charlestown, closely following the present lines of Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown and Cambridge Street (first called "Mill Street" and

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afterward called "Cambridge Street" and "Road to the College" in Watertown) to Elmwood Avenue; thence following Elmwood Avenue, Brattle Street, Mason Street, and Kirkland Street in Cambridge, Washington Street in Somerville, and Main Street in Charlestown, to the Charlestown and Boston ferry established in 1631. This path from Watertown to Charlestown is undoubtedly the oldest way in Cambridge, and over it for at least four years — until the ferry at the foot of Dunster Street across Charles River was established — all the travel from Cambridge to Boston had to pass.1

The first mention of this way appears in the town records for December 2, 1633, as follows: "It is ordered that noe person whatsoever shall fell Anny Tree neer the Towne [ ] wthin the path wch goeth ffrom Wattertown to Charles towne uppon the fforfiture of ffive shillings for every tre soe ffeled."

The next way mentioned in the town records is under date of March 2, 1633/4, as follows: "Granted John Benjamin all the ground between John Masters his ground and Antho Couldbyes, provided that the windmill hill shall be reserved for the Town use, and a Cart-way of two Rods wide unto the same." Fifty years later, or on January 26, 1684, this cartway was laid out by the town as follows: "It was then voted whether the highway running through Rich. Eccles field down to the windmill hill should be made an open highway, and it was voted in the affirmative." The highway here referred to was what is now known as Ash Street and Bath Street from Brattle Street to the old Town Landing (at Windmill Hill), and seems to be the first highway formally laid out as such by vote of the town.

Other streets were laid out at an early day, as is testified by William Wood in his New England's Prospect in 1633. He says, "Newtowne is one of the neatest and best compacted towns in New England, having many fair structures with many handsome contrived streets."

Another historian, writing in 1652, says of Cambridge, "The Town

 

 1. This ferry — the first attempt of the Cambridge folk to link themselves with the outside world — was originally extremely primitive. Dunster Street simply ended in the river mud, and so did the road on the opposite bank. At low tide this caused such unbearable discomfort that very soon a little wharf or '' bridge'' was built on the Cambridge side, and "a broad ladder" on the other, "for convenience of landing." The fare was "a penny over and a half-penny on lecture days." The first official keeper of the ferry was Joseph Cooke — probably selected because his land ran down to the marsh at, or close by, the ferry wharf. He was a very prominent citizen, a large landowner, selectman, town clerk, magistrate, and representative, and succeeded his brother George as captain of the train-band. He returned to England in 1658. (See Paige, History of Cambridge, 513.) — ED.

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is compact closely together within itself till of late years some few straggling houses have been built. ... It hath well ordered streets and comely, completed with the faire building of Harvard College."

The following seem to have been the streets composing the early village, with the old and modern names:

Braintree Street, now called Harvard Street and Harvard Square.

Spring Street, now a part of Mt. Auburn Street.

Long Street, now called Winthrop Street.

Marsh Lane, now called South Street and part of Eliot Street.

Creek Lane, now called Brattle Square and part of Eliot Street.

Wood Street, now called Boylston Street.

Water Street, now called Dunster Street.

Crooked Street, now called Holyoke Street.

There were numerous other "lanes" and "ways" noted in the original records, many of which cannot now be identified on account of the meagre description given. Parts of Garden Street, Huron Avenue, and Vassal Lane formed the old "Highway to Fresh Pond." Garden Street, northerly of Huron Avenue, was called the "Highway to the Great Swamp."

The land lying south of the "Path from Watertown to Charlestown," and east of the "neat and compacted little village," with its eight short streets, was for a long time used almost entirely for cultivation and grass. Early in its history, in the year 1632, the town voted to impale or fence in this land, and a line of palings 9,487 feet long, extending from the village easterly to near the present location of the Boston & Albany (Grand Junction Branch) Railroad, was constructed and the cost borne by forty-two owners. About one thousand acres of land were enclosed by this paling, the location of the paling being substantially the same as the present line between Cambridge and Somerville. This impaled land was divided into lots of various sizes and apportioned to sundry householders of the village. Into this impaled land sundry ways were laid out.

One, leading from the village by what is now Arrow Street and Massachusetts Avenue to about where Pleasant Street now is located, was called the "Highway into the Neck." From this point, one way led southeasterly about on the line of the present Massachusetts Avenue to the edge of the marsh and was called the "Way to Pelham's Island,"1 and another way led southwesterly following about the

 

1. See under head of Main Street, page 53, for description of Pelham’s Island

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present line of Putnam Avenue and was called the "Highway into the Little Neck." Another way went about on the line of Pleasant Street to Cottage Street, and thence led by a way skirting the uplands to near where Fort Washington now is, and was called the "Roade to the Oyster Banks." From the " Highway to the Neck," a way led to the northeast nearly on the present location of Dana Street and was called the "Highway to the Common Pales."

There were other small ways whose names suggested the pastoral character of occupations of many of the early inhabitants. "Back Lane," "Cow Yard Lane," and "Field Lane" were some of these located close to the little cluster of houses forming the early settlement.

As already stated, upon the founding of Newtowne in 1630, the "Path from Watertown to Charlestown" was already in use and provided a ready route for communication with the towns of Charlestown, Salem, and Boston. It was about 4 3/4 miles by this way to the Town House in Boston at the present site of the Old State House at Washington and State Streets.

MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE

What is now called Massachusetts Avenue from Harvard Square to the Arlington line, and leading to Arlington, Lexington and the towns beyond, was long called the "Highway to Menotomy." It is not known when these settlements were first begun, but it must have been at a very early day. That the town then exercised control over the territory is shown by an order of the town dated January 14,1638, that "no timber shall be felled beyond Menotomy river [Alewife Brook] without a warrant from the major part of the Townsmen."

What are now called Newton (then called "Cambridge Village") and Brighton (then called "Little Cambridge") were added to Newtowne in 1634, and in 1642 all the land lying upon Shawshine River and between that and Concord River and between that and Merrimac River, not formerly granted, was granted to Cambridge. This grant was confirmed March 7,1643, and included Billerica, parts of Carlisle, Tewksbury, and Chelmsford, and all of Bedford, Lexington, and Arlington. Thus the bounds of Cambridge at that time (and until 1655, when Billerica was incorporated as a separate town) extended towards the north for a distance of about twenty miles, and included the considerable settlements of "Menotomy" (Arlington), "The Farms" (Lexington), Bedford and Billerica.

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There is no doubt that the road or way connecting these villages with the center at Cambridge Court House (now Harvard Square) was laid out and in use at a very early date in substantially the same location as Massachusetts Avenue is to-day.

The practical inconvenience of so extensive a township, with the long distances it necessitated to travel to town meetings, church, etc., soon became apparent, and protests began to be made against it. The town records of a meeting held November 29,1654, contain this rather quaint entry: "In ans. to a L're sent to the Towne ffrom or Neybours of Shaw Shine, Alias Bilracie, wherein they desire that whole tract of land may be disingaged from this place & be one Intire body of it selfe: the Towne consented to choose five persons — a Committee to treate & conclude with them concring yr request therein, at wch time was chosen Mr. Henry Dunster, Edw. Champney, Jno. Bridge, Edw. Goffe & Edw. Winship."

This request of the Shawshine people was granted, and an amicable agreement reached, and Billerica was incorporated as a town the following year, 1655. Lexington was incorporated in 1713 and Arlington was incorporated as "West Cambridge" in 1807. Newton was incorporated in 1688, and Brighton was incorporated in 1807.

From 1642 until 1655, then, Cambridge was at her zenith as far as territory was concerned. The setting off of the several towns left Cambridge less than her present area, and the seventeen miles of highway which connected this northern territory with the Cambridge Center in 1655 had in 1807 been reduced to about two and one-fourth miles in length to reach the limit of Cambridge territory at the Arlington line.

It may not be out of place here to recall the fact that it was over this road that Paul Revere made his famous "midnight ride," followed later by the British soldiers on their disastrous march to Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775. Lieutenant-Colonel Smith with 800 regulars landed at Lechmere Point the night before and in the early morning passed up this way from Beech Street in Cambridge to Lexington Green. Later in the day a detachment of reinforcements, consisting of about 1200 marines, under Lord Percy, entered Cambridge by the "Great Bridge " over Charles River, where the Anderson Bridge now is, and passed up the whole length of the way to Lexington, where they met the first detachment of Smith's in active retreat. Together they finished the return, with such speed as they could, leaving

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the Menotomy Road at Beech Street on their way to Charlestown and safety.

In 1805 the Middlesex Turnpike was chartered, as is related in another place (p. 50), and the portion of the way from the Arlington line to Porter Square formed a part of that turnpike from 1805 to 1842, when it was made a county road; upon the incorporation of Cambridge as a city in 1846, the street passed to the control of the city as North Avenue; and in 1894 the entire way from Harvard Bridge, Cambridge, to Lexington was named Massachusetts Avenue.1

BOYLSTON STREET AND THE "WAY FROM CAMBRIDGE TO ROXBERY"
 

It was early seen that it was desirable also to have direct means of communication with towns on the southerly side of Charles River — Dedham, Roxbury, Dorchester, and also Boston from the south side. The establishment of the ferry across the river at what is now Dunster Street not only united the two parts of Cambridge as it was then constituted — separated by the river — but gave the opportunity for more extended communication to the above-mentioned towns, through what was early known as "Muddy River Village," now Brookline, and by way of "The Neck" to the town of Boston, a distance of eight miles by this route from Harvard Square to the Boston Town House.

This meant the laying out of a way from the ferry to the Watertown-Roxbury road, and the first reference to it is, as follows, in the town records for 1638: "It is ordered in Respect of making a sufficient path from the south side of Charles River from Cambridge to Roxberie that the line shall lie right to the upland therefor that common lands that fall within [ ] line of Mr. Harlackinden's side shall belong to him, and his forever and in respect of which so much of his own land as falleth in the outside of the line, he resigneth up unto the Town's use; also in regard Mr. Harlackinden hath upon his own particular charge made a ditch he shall be freed from all [ ] about making a causey or any other charge to make that path sufficient, and his bounds to remain according to the rail and ditch now is on every side of his land."

Over this route the travel soon began to make its way, for on Octo-

 

1.At the same date the names of the streets at the Boston end of the bridge – West Chester park and its continuations to the Edward Everett Square in Dorchester – were also changed to Massachusetts Avenue; so that this way is now said to be the longest single street in the Commonwealth. – ED

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ber 25,1640, the town of Boston ordered that a Bridge be made at Muddy River, and Mr. Colburn, Elliot, and Oliver are appointed to see it done."

May 25, 1642, a committee from Boston was "appointed to join with Dedham, Cambridge, and Watertown to lay out highways from town to town through Boston lands at Muddy River."

Similar committees were appointed by Cambridge from time to time, and frequent reference to the matter is made in the town records, but no agreement seems to have been reached as to a formal laying out of the highway, although such a way was then in actual use.

On January 19, 1662, it is recorded in the Cambridge records that "Mr. John Stedman, Edd. Oakes, Thos. Fox, and Edward Shepard are appointed to attend the laying out of the highway from our bounds leading towards Roxbery, as the law directeth." This was the year of the construction of the "Great Bridge" over Charles River, at what is now Boylston Street. The committees of the towns still not agreeing with the Boston committee, referees were appointed, and on December 16, 1662, the referees reported that "We, William Park, John Peirpont, and Thomas Weld, chosen to determine the highway leading from Cambridge through Boston bounds, the committees between the two towns not agreeing, doe conclude that the way shall goe without the common fields by Goodman Devotion1 and Goodman Stevens houses, and soe to Cambridge bounds as the ould way now runneth, whereunto the committee of Boston concurred, having left the same unto us."

The location as here given in Little Cambridge (now called Brighton) and Muddy River Village (now Brookline) has been well determined and followed the present location of Harvard Street, North Harvard Street, Cambridge Street, and Harvard Street in Brighton, and Harvard Street and Washington Street in Brookline. In Boston, the route followed the present location of Roxbury Street and Washington Street to the old Town House.

As the new bridge built in 1663 across Charles River was located some six hundred feet westerly of the old ferry, a portion of the old road and the "causie," as it was called, across the marsh, had to be

 

1. The house here referred to as the “Goodman Devotion House” is still standing and is known as the “Edward Devotion House,” home of the founder of Brookline schools, on Harvard Street near Coolidge Corner, Brookline. It is open to the public on Saturday afternoons.

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abandoned and located anew.1 This relocation seems to have given rise to considerable controversy between the owners of the lands and the town, as frequent reference is made in the records of the town to the location of lands taken, payments for the same, etc. This matter seems finally to have been disposed of by a vote passed December 13, 1663, that "Mr. Edward Jackson, Edward Oakes, and Thomas Danforth are appointed by the Townsmen to lay out all necessary highways on the south side the water, and agree with the proprietors of the land for the same by exchange for common land or otherwise according to their discretion."

The location of this historic way has been further defined by seven milestones set in 1729 by P. Dudley, marking the route, three of which are still standing, together with a "parting stone," also set by P. Dudley in 1744 on Roxbury Street near Eliot Square, marking the junction of the ways to Boston, Dedham and Cambridge. These stones are indicated and numbered upon the accompanying map.

The old milestone now standing in the northeasterly corner of the burying ground near Harvard Square, marked "Boston 8 miles 1734 A.I." on its face and "Cambridge New Bridge 2 1/4 miles 1794" on its back, once stood on the easterly side of the old Court House in Harvard Square and marked the beginning of this highway to Boston.2

While the major part of this highway was outside of even the original limits of Cambridge, its history is of special interest because, for more than one hundred and fifty years, it was the route over which most of the travel from Cambridge to Boston, Roxbury, Dedham, and other towns passed.

 

1. On a very beautiful and accurate chart of Boston Bay (including the Charles River); published in 1776 by the British Admiralty in their  Atlantic Neptune, both the old and the new roads are shown. They run parallel for about half a mile and then gradually converge. It will be noted that Dunster Street (then appropriately called Water Street) which ran down to the ferry was for a generation the only artery traffic to Boston. In dredging for the foundation of the Cambridge pier of the Anderson Bridge in 1913 the remains of an ancient corduroy road were uncovered, remarkably well preserved in the river mud. The logs extended twenty feer below the present river bed and undoubtedly formed part of the “causie” of 1663. (See  Harvard Graduates Magazine, xxi, 456) This “Great Bridge” was well named. It was larger than any so far erected in the colony – a triumph of Cambridge initiative. Moreover, it was a distinctly handsome affair. As soon as completed, it was ordered “to be laid [i.e. painted] in oil and lead,” suggesting a considerably higher degree of finish than might be looked for in those early days. – ED.

 

2. The initials “A.I.” stand for Abraham Ireland, who placed this stone just as “P.D.” on the others of the series stand for Paul Dudley, who had placed them five years earlier. Ireland himself lies in the old burying ground near his milestone. He died in 1753, aged 80. Apparently he was not a native of Cambridge, for his gravestone records, “God brought him from a distant land.” –ED.

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GORE STREET AND THE GRAVES HOUSE
 

What is claimed to be the first house erected in Cambridge was built for the use of Thomas Graves, who came from England in July, 1629, to Salem, under an agreement with the Massachusetts Bay Company. Under this agreement, Mr. Graves was to receive fifty pounds a year and have a house and one hundred acres of land assigned to him and "to have a part thereof planted at the Company's charge." The one hundred acres of land with the house was located on what was soon called "Graves' Neck," afterwards Lechmere's Point, and now called East Cambridge, and Graves and family of wife and five children lived there a number of years.

In 1635 the house and land became the property of Atherton Haugh, who purchased more land, till in 1642 he owned about three hundred acres. In 1699 the widow of his grandson, Samuel Haugh, sold it to John Langdon, and in 1706 he sold it to Spencer Phipps, afterward Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts. A daughter of Spencer Phipps married Richard Lechmere, who on the death of his father-in-law in 1757 bought out the other heirs and so became owner of what was long known as "Lechmere Point."

The land upon which this house was built was entirely surrounded by marsh, covered at high tide with water, and was reached from the Watertown-Charlestown road by a bridge over Willis' Creek (Miller's River) and a causeway across the marsh, with a road leading to the house, which was on the northerly side of Spring Street between Third and Fourth Streets. This road and causeway played an important part in the movement of the British troops on April 18,1775, when the eight hundred British soldiers from the Boston side were landed near the old Graves house, then standing, and marched over the road and causeway to the Milk Row Road, thence to the "road to Menotomy," and so on to Lexington and Concord. Later in the year 1775 and the early part of 1776, this old road was of great assistance in the work of fortifying the Point as a part of the Siege of Boston. The fort built here was considered the most important of any around Boston, and as such was carefully planned and armed with the larger cannon — even the causeway was protected by a small redoubt flanking it.

This road is shown upon a map of Boston and vicinity illustrating

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the account of the Siege of Boston by John Marshall in his Life of George Washington, published in 1807.1

The old Graves house, which was the occasion for the building of this road and causeway which helped to make so much history, stood until about 1820, when it was torn down. The old road and causeway probably formed a part of Medford Street, in Somerville, and Gore Street as now laid out.

BRATTLE STREET
 

As previously stated, a part of what is now Brattle Street from Mason Street to Elmwood Avenue was in use prior to the settlement of Cambridge, forming a part of the original "Waye from Watertown to Charlestown." The portion between Harvard Square and Mason Street must have been in use at a very early day, for the Rev. William Brattle's family, for whom the street was named, first located on the street about 1696 and for more than a century the family lived there.

Exactly when this portion of Brattle Street was opened for travel is not known, but in 1636 a causeway and foot bridge were ordered constructed across the creek and canal about at the westerly end of Spring Street (now a part of Mt. Auburn Street), so as to give access to the town spring or shallow well, which was a short distance south of the present line of Brattle Street — at or very near the present location of Brattle Hall, next the old Brattle house.

Later the road was extended until it joined the old Watertown road at Mason Street, where for many years a gate was located. The entire street soon became built up with large and imposing houses, and, as many of the owners manifested strong British sympathies during the Revolutionary period, it came to be known as "Tory Row." Since these Tories were members of the unpopular Church of England it was also dubbed "Church Row."

The portion of the street from "the North Easterly corner of Dr. Lowell's garden" (Elmwood Avenue) to "Wyeth's Sign Post," being its junction with Mt. Auburn Street, was laid out by the county as a county road in September, 1812. The whole street as laid out was narrow and in places crooked, and in addition the Cambridge Rail-

 

1.  This map is based on the unreliable map of Pelham of 1776 and must be accepted with caution. the Gore Street Bridge here referred to does not seem to have been built until 1815. The bridge used by the British was probably some half a mile farther up the river where it had narrowed into a mere brook. The “Milk Row Road” is now Somerville Avenue. –ED.

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road Company had built a horse car track its entire length, running to Watertown.1

In 1869 a strong movement was begun to widen and straighten the street and a plan was prepared for the proposed improvement. Great opposition to this widening was developed, Prof. Longfellow, Prof. Lowell, and other influential men strongly opposing it; but in spite of this, the order for the widening was adopted December 14, 1870, making the street sixty feet wide from Harvard Square to Elmwood Avenue. One regrettable result of this widening was the removal of an old chestnut tree which then stood at the westerly side of Brattle Street just north of Story Street. This was the "Spreading Chestnut Tree" referred to in Longfellow's poem, "The Village Blacksmith," familiar to every schoolboy.

Under a spreading chestnut tree
The Village Smithy stands.
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands.

 

The part of Brattle Street from Elmwood Avenue to Mt. Auburn Street, laid out by the county in 1812 forty-nine and one-half feet wide, was widened to sixty feet in 1889.

VASSAL LANE
 

This is another street which bears a name common in Cambridge history before the Revolutionary War. It was a way or lane in common use at a very early day and seems then to have been generally called "Highway to Great Swamp." A part of this way or lane is shown on an old and very interesting plan, one of the earliest relating to Cambridge found on record, drawn by Abraham Fuller and dated April 14,1760, recorded Book 167, Page 468, East Cambridge Registry of Deeds. This shows the lane from its present junction with Sparks Street to near Fresh Pond, also a portion of Brattle Street and Sparks Street, all very correct to scale. The lane was laid out by the city and widened to forty feet in 1888.

 

1.  In 1825 the street was described as “a mere lane, with neither pavement nor sidewalk, and for a great part of the year a continuous quagmire, with no means of communication with the great world except by a two-horse stage-coach twice a day.” (see A.P. Peabody,  Harvard Graduates Whom I Have Known, 64.) The description probably applies to most Cambridge streets of that period. – ED

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INMAN STREET

The land upon which the present City Hall now stands, together with a large tract in the rear, once formed a part of what was long known as the Ralph Inman estate. Ralph Inman came from England, and in 1746 bought a large tract of land comprising about 180 acres extending from the present Massachusetts Avenue to Broadway. Upon this estate he built a large, roomy house which stood about opposite the end of Austin Street until it was moved away in 1873.

Interesting stories are told of the lavish entertainments given in this house by Mr. and Mrs. Inman prior to the troublous times of the Revolutionary War. Mr. Inman was an ardent Loyalist during the war period and was obliged to leave his home and family for several years, during which Mrs. Inman was left in charge of his affairs, which she managed with great skill and tact. The "Committee of Correspondence" of the town took possession of the place for public use, but it was finally returned to Mr. Inman. Gen. Israel Putnam made the house his headquarters during the Siege of Boston, when it was called "Barrack No. 1" and accommodated 3,460 soldiers.

The following incident of the time was related by Mr. B. F. Jacobs, for many years a resident of Cambridge, as having been told to him by a person who vouched for its accuracy. Upon the easterly corner of the Inman estate, fronting on what is now Massachusetts Avenue, there stood for many years a large, old-fashioned, wooden stable. This stable during the first of the Revolutionary War was used for a military hospital. General Washington, visiting this hospital one day, came to a very young soldier who had been shot in the jaw. He was suffering much pain and his head was heavily bandaged. General Washington kindly enquired how he was getting on. The soldier in a doleful tone said, "Very badly," he "didn't believe he would ever get out again." "Nonsense, my lad," the General cheerfully replied, "you are going to live to kiss the girls yet."

Mr. Inman died in 1788 and in 1792 Mr. Leonard Jarvis bought the property, but sold it to Jonathan L. Austin in 1801, who about 1805 laid out Austin Street from the Inman estate to Main Street. Just when Inman Street was first laid out is not clear, but upon an old map of Boston and vicinity, including Cambridge, made by Major Pelham, an English officer in 1775, a way or lane is shown about on the present location of Inman Street. A plan drawn by Peter Tufts, Jr., dated

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1810, shows a way from Main Street to the Middlesex Turnpike (Hampshire Street) called "Inman's Lane," but another plan dated 1822 shows "Inman's Lane" only as far as Broadway. In 1835 the street was extended through to Hampshire Street and called for its entire length, Inman Street.

MAGAZINE STREET AND CAPTAIN'S ISLAND
 

The stories of Magazine Street and Captain's Island are somewhat closely connected, and begin with the granting by the town at some time between 1632 and 1637 of the small hillock of upland situated in the salt marsh at about the center of the bend in Charles River, immediately above the place where the river widens out, to one Captain Daniel Patrick, a soldier "out of Holland," as the account says, although his name would not indicate it.

He must have been among the first of the settlers to arrive here, for on September 7, 1630, he, with a Mr. Underbill, were appointed as "Military Commanders" by the General Court of the Colony, their pay to be partly in money and partly in supplies granted yearly, "their year to begin from the time they begin to keep house." His name appears with seven others in the list of inhabitants at Newtowne in 1632 in the town records, and also as having allotted to him as his share on January 7, 1632, five rods of the common pales; and on August 5, 1633, he was "granted a Akr for cowyardes." He lived while in Cambridge at the southeasterly corner of Boylston and Winthrop Streets. He was employed to exercise and drill the militia of the Colony, he having been a "common soldier of the Prince's Guard in Holland." At the latter part of his stay in Cambridge, it is said "he grew very proud and vicious."

He served three months in the Pequot (Indian) War, where he had command of forty men. He seems to have moved in 1637 to Watertown, where he was admitted to the church and served as a selectman in 1638; and later he moved to Stamford, Connecticut, where in a quarrel with a Dutchman in 1643 he was shot with a pistol and killed. Although he owned the land but for a comparatively short time, the name "Captain's Island" has been applied to the little patch of gravelly, barren land ever since.

It finally passed into the hands of Francis Dana, whose heirs on October 27, 1817, sold the lot containing three acres and twenty rods

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to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, upon which to erect "a public magazine of powder." This magazine was completed in September, 1818, and cost about $6500. Peter Tufts, Jr., who owned a large estate near by, and was a well-known surveyor of that time, and had formerly kept the powder house in Charlestown (now Somerville), was made keeper of the magazine.

Up to this time Captain's Island and the lands and marshes adjoining had been reached by the old "Way to Captain's Island," skirting the edge of the marsh from near where Pleasant Street now is. On August 24, 1818, the Commonwealth purchased from Edmund Dana and others the rights of way in a street from the "great road" to Captain's Island, with the agreement to keep the road open and in good repair. This road was soon called Magazine Street and remained in the care of the state until March 17, 1846, when the Commonwealth agreed to pay the town of Cambridge $300 to repair the road and assume its future care and maintenance " from Main Street to the hill a short distance beyond the residence of the late Peter Tufts, Jr., about thirty-eight hundred feet in length, and fifty feet in width."

 

LINNAEAN STREET
 

As is well known, the Cambridge Common originally extended from Harvard Square to the present northeasterly line of Linnsean Street. The Common was used for parades, meetings, and other public purposes, but principally for the herding of cows and other cattle during the summer. In 1724, it was decided to divide the greater part of the Common into lots and assign them to individuals. At this time two highways were laid out — the northerly one from the "Road to Menotomy" to the "Highway to the Great Swamp" (Garden Street) for many years was called "Love Lane," a romantic name, which in 1850 was changed to Linnsean Street, after the great botanist Linnaeus, as the Botanic Garden stands on the corner of this street and Garden Street.1

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1. It will be noticed from the above that the famous old Cooper-Austin house on this street, when built in 1657 and for many years thereafter, simply faced the open Common, without being served by any public road whatever. Such a condition seems to have been not unusual in the early days. the highways were mostly “trunk lines,” not residential streets and many houses were built without much reference to them, a sightly and comfortable location being considered more important. –ED.


 

WATERHOUSE STREET

The other road laid out in 1724 formed the southerly boundary of the land taken from the Common, and thus became the northerly boundary of the present Common. It was later called Waterhouse Street, in honor of the famous Dr. Waterhouse, who introduced vaccination into this country, and who lived in the old house on this street.

Upon the large tract lying between Linnsean and Waterhouse Streets and thus cut off from the old Common, no roads seem to have been laid out until 1845, when Shepard Street and, in 1857, Chauncy Street, were laid out.

CAMBRIDGE COMMON

The reduction of the size of the Common in 1724 brought the area down from about eighty-two acres to about nine acres, which still remained in the control of the "Proprietors of Common Lands." On November 20,1769, the proprietors voted to grant to the town all the lands belonging to them, and March 3, 1828, the selectmen reported that they had purchased all the remaining rights in the land and had "a good and sufficient deed of the same." Meanwhile, the Common remained open and unfenced, traversed and cut up by lines of travel coming from several different directions. This tract proved a convenient spot on which students in the Scientific School of Harvard College could practice surveying and plan-making, and fortunately several of the maps drawn by students are preserved in the Harvard College Library.

On June 5,1830, by an act of the General Court, five commissioners were appointed to enclose the Common with a fence and embellish it as a park. This was done, and the Common was finished in practically its present condition, the expense being met by private contributions.

CARE OF EARLY STREETS

It is instructive to learn that very early in its history the town began to take care of such roads and ways as it then had. On November 3, 1634, it was "ordered that every inhabitant in the Towne shall keepe the street Cleane from wood and all other things against his owne Ground, and whosoever shall have anny thinge lye in the street above one daye after the next meetinge day shall forfeit V s. for every such

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default." Also, "John White is Chosen surveyor to see the highways and streete kept cleane and in repair for the yeare followeinge."

It may be remembered that "Mr. Joseph Cook," who then lived on Holyoke Street, was in 1635 authorized by the town to keep the ferry across the river. In 1636 we find him looking after the streets of the town, for it was "agreed with Mr. Cook to take up all the stubbs that are within the bounds of the Town, that is within the Town gates, and he is to have nine pence apiece for taking up the same and filling up the holes all above three inches." In the following year, however, an agreement was made with Mr. Symon Crosby "to take up all the stubbs within the Town streets in any way of passage for horse carts or man, at four pence the stubb," a cut of five pence apiece. In 1639, Joseph Cook and Edward Goffe were given "power to cause all that have carriages that way to come together and mend the highway in the neck of land."

The town appears to have suffered even in that early day from the idea which seems all too prevalent now in these later days that public property can with impunity be appropriated to private uses. September 20,1678, it is recorded that "the selectmen of Cambridge having many Complaints Come to them of the breaking the ground in the high wayes ... do order that whosoever shall dig any Clay or sand in any highway within the bounds of the Town of Cambridge shall pay five shillings for every load digged in the highway."

Among the many questions regarding the care of various kinds of live stock which were allowed to run at large on the commons and highways of the town, the proper control of swine seems to have been the most troublesome. In addition to the yearly election of "hog reeves," or wardens to look after them, numerous regulations and restrictions were passed and many fines for their infraction were imposed. In 1647 it was ordered, "that all hogs in this town shall be sufficiently yoaked and Ringed or else shutt up." The reference here is to the practice common at that time of placing rings in the snouts of swine to prevent rooting, and attaching a frame or yoke about the neck to hamper their passing through fences when allowed to run loose. In this connection it is interesting to read another order dated February 23, 1662/3, as follows: "ordered that all swine be yoaked wth a crotch yoake or wth 2 cross peeces & yt ye same be in length & bredth proporcconably to the bignes of ye Swine."

Another rather curious order passed on the same date is as follows:

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"Ordered that if any man be convicted that his dog is used to pull of the tails of any beasts, and do not effectually restrain Him, He shall pay for every offense of that kind twenty shillings in case that further complaynt be made."

 

LATER HISTORY (1775-1900)

 

From what has already been said, it will be seen that for more than one hundred and fifty years after the first settlement of the town, its growth and development had been very slow. In the year 1790, the entire population of Cambridge, then including Arlington and Brighton, was by the census given as 2,115, so that within the city limits as now defined the population must have been less than one thousand persons. The length of roadways then laid out and in use could not have exceeded twelve miles. Of manufactures, there was practically none. The principal interests of the people were about the college and the farms. The lack of convenient connections with Boston and the poor condition of the roads leading to other towns restricted intercourse, and must have tended to make the general social life narrow, self-centered and provincial.

It was only after more than half a century of effort on the part of certain citizens of the town to improve the primitive conditions then existing, and overcome the great natural barrier of the broad waters of the Charles River, that a bridge and causeway were constructed in 1793 from the "westerly part of Boston to Pelham's Island in the Town of Cambridge." The completion of the West Boston Bridge was followed by the construction of another bridge in 1809 from near Barton's Point in Boston to Lechmere Point in Cambridge, called the Canal or Craigie Bridge.

It is undoubtedly true that the construction of these two bridges was the most important of all the factors that contributed to the rapid increase in population and material prosperity which soon followed. Their construction soon led to the laying out and construction of a number of thoroughfares and main roads leading to and through Cambridge, and the cutting up of various large estates, by means of smaller streets, into house lots for sale and occupation. At about this time also another movement came into popular favor which became helpful to Cambridge interests in the same direction. Reference is here made to the policy of laying out and constructing trunk-line

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highways, connecting towns more or less widely separated, by a company incorporated by the Legislature for this special purpose. These were called "turnpike roads" and were built by the incorporated companies, using private capital, acting under charters granted by the Legislatures, giving to them certain powers and imposing certain duties and restrictions. All over the country, at this time, these corporations were chartered to take over and build turnpike roads, especially where the municipal authority had not the means or the courage to construct them.

In most of the states, special laws were passed giving the corporations certain rights and defining their powers as to taking land, paying damages, limiting the amounts of tolls to be charged, number of toll gates, etc.1 Acting under these special laws, it is said that in the New England states alone, some one hundred eighty-two turnpike corporations were chartered. The most of them proved to be financial failures and were abandoned, and many of the roads surrendered to the county commissioners of the county in which the roads were located. Indirectly, however, they were of great benefit to the country in stimulating an interest in better transportation facilities, especially between the more important towns.

CONCORD AVENUE AND BROADWAY

Cambridge was the terminal point of several of these turnpike roads constructed during this period. The first was called the "Cambridge and Concord Turnpike Corporation," and was chartered May 5, 1803, to construct a turnpike or toll road from a point near the dwelling house of Jonas Wyeth in Cambridge to Concord, Mass., passing by the summer-house of Dr. Andrew Craigie, who, as customary, later had a suit with the corporation for damages.2

March 5, 1805, a charter was given the same corporation to extend the turnpike from the Cambridge Common easterly to the causeway of West Boston Bridge "in as straight a line as the circumstances will permit," but not to go nearer than a distance of ninety feet from the new building of Harvard College then being built, now called Stough-

 

1. A typical schedule of toll charges is given on page 52 relating to Main Street and West Boston Bridge.</note>

2.  This summer-house was built by John Vassal, Craigie's predecessor in the property, on the site of the present Harvard Observatory, and standing alone on the crown of the highest hill in town was a prominent landmark. The Wyeth house was about on the corner of Garden Street and Phillips Place.— ED.

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ton Hall. The easterly terminus of this turnpike was to be at the "causeway of West Boston Bridge near the house of Royal Makepeace." This portion of the street was first called Concord Street and finally called Broadway.

The westerly portion of the road was completed December 1, 1806, and in February, 1807, it was declared open for business. The part from the Common easterly was not completed until several years later; for in March, 1811, the corporation petitioned to be relieved of its construction, but the petition was dismissed in January, 1812. Two toll gates, which were not to be "closely located," were allowed to be built in this road.

September, 1826, the company turned over all its papers to the county commissioners and asked to have the road laid out as a public way, which was done in May, 1829, making it a county road.

HAMPSHIRE STREET
 

Another ambitious scheme, called "The Middlesex Turnpike," was chartered January 15, 1805. The road began at the Tyngsborough Meeting House, passing through Chelmsford, Billerica, Bedford, Lexington, Arlington, and by the old Menotomy road to Porter Square, Cambridge, thence in nearly a straight line to the Cambridge and Concord Turnpike Road at what is now known as Mechanics Square. This road is now known as Hampshire Street in Cambridge. One of the toll houses on this turnpike stood at the intersection of Beacon and Washington Streets, Somerville.

On petition of the corporation, it was dissolved by the Legislature, March 13,1841, and the turnpike became a county road in September, 1842.

WESTERN AVENUE AND BRIDGE

Another corporation was chartered June 12, 1824, to construct a turnpike through the towns of Cambridge, Brighton and Watertown. This enterprise had several unique features. It was virtually promoted by the proprietors of the West Boston Bridge to offset the loss they feared would result in decreased patronage on the West Boston Bridge, then a toll bridge, by reason of a newly authorized turnpike road connecting Watertown with the "Mill Dam Road," in Boston. The plan of this Cambridge to Watertown turnpike shows the route

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"from the pump in Watertown, to Cambridge, on the way to the pump in Dock Square"—two rather unusual termini to be given a turnpike road, especially at that time!

Again, there were to be no tolls charged, so, of course, there were no toll houses or gates. The entire cost of the road, including two bridges over the Charles River, was to be borne by the company.

The West Boston Bridge Corporation, in 1846, sold their entire interest in these and other properties to the Hancock Free Bridge Corporation, and named the turnpike "Western Avenue." In 1855, it was laid out by the city of Cambridge as a public highway.

RIVER STREET AND BRIDGE

On March 2,1808, Jonathan L. Austin, a Cambridge man who lived on Inman Street, opposite the head of Austin Street,1 with other real estate owners, were incorporated and authorized to construct a bridge and connecting highway, now called River Street, leading from Brighton to Main Street, at its junction with Western Avenue — as Mr. Paige states in his History of Cambridge "for the advantage of the proprietors of the West Boston Bridge and the owners of real estate in Cambridgeport." This bridge (then called the "Brighton and Cambridgeport Bridge") and street (first called "Brighton Street") were completed and opened for travel December 11, 1810, and they were maintained by the corporation until 1832, when, after much discussion, the town assumed their care and maintenance.

BROOKLINE STREET AND BRIDGE

Another toll-collecting enterprise was called the "Cambridge and Brookline Bridge Corporation," composed largely of Cambridge men, and was chartered April 25, 1850, to connect Cambridge and Brookline by a bridge, with causeways leading to existing streets in both places. Tolls were to be collected but were not to exceed a specified schedule. This led to the laying out and extension of Brookline Street to the street already laid out from Massachusetts Avenue to Auburn Street and called "Canal Street" in 1852, and the development of large tracts of land in the vicinity. The bridge and its approaches were made free and taken over as highways by the municipalities April 6, 1870. The old toll house stood on the westerly side of Brookline Street, a little south of Granite Street.

 

1. See p. 43, ante.

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WEST BOSTON (NOW CAMBRIDGE) BRIDGE

The construction of this bridge and the approaching causeways at each end were authorized by an act of the Legislature, dated March 9, 1792, and the bridge was open for travel November 23, 1793. The main bridge was 3,483 feet long, -with a causeway on the Boston side extending nearly to South Russell Street and with another causeway on the Cambridge side extending from the westerly end of the bridge to the easterly side of "Pelham's Island," near Moore Street, a distance of about 3,600 feet. At the opening of the bridge and causeway in 1793, a toll house was located on the north side of the causeway, at its extreme westerly end, near Moore Street. Upon the laying out of Harvard Street and other streets leading into the causeway, about 1805, the toll house was moved, and in 1835 it stood about 900 feet easterly of the junction of Broadway. Later it was moved again and placed on the southerly side of the bridge, nearly opposite where First Street now comes into Main Street. In 1810 there was another toll house shown on the northerly side of the causeway, at Grove Street, Boston.

As illustrating the "spirit of the age" as it existed one hundred and twenty-five years ago, the schedule of tolls to be collected at these toll houses may be found of interest:

"Each foot passenger (or one person passing), two-thirds of a penny; one person and horse, two pence two-thirds of a penny; single horse, cart or sled, or sley, four pence; wheelbarrows, hand-carts, and other vehicles capable of carrying like weight, one penny, one-third of a penny; single horse and chaise, chair or sulky, eight pence; coaches, chariots, phaetons and curricles, one shilling each; all other wheel carriages or sleds drawn by more than one beast, six pence; neat cattle and horses passing the said bridge, exclusive of those rode or in carriages or teams, one penny, one-third of a penny; swine and sheep, four pence for each dozen, and at the same rate for a greater or less number; and in all cases the same toll shall be paid for all carriages and vehicles passing the said bridge, whether the same be loaded or not loaded; and to each team one man and no more shall be allowed as a driver to pass free from payment of toll, and in all cases DOUBLE TOLL SHALL BE PAID ON THE LORD'S DAY; and at all times when the toll gatherer shall not attend to his duty the gate or gates shall be left open."

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Considering the limited resources of the time it must be conceded that this whole enterprise was a very large and creditable one and that the enthusiasm of the Columbian Centinal, a newspaper of the time, was excusable when it declared that "The elegance of the workmanship, and the magnitude of the undertaking are perhaps unequalled in the history of enterprises."1

 

MAIN STREET

Main Street, as originally so called, extended from the abutment of the West Boston Bridge to Harvard Square. In 1894 the name of Massachusetts Avenue was given to the portion between Lafayette Square and Harvard Square. The remaining portion, which is now called Main Street, was first laid out as an approach to the West Boston Bridge in 1793.

This causeway was built entirely upon marsh land and was originally laid out 130 feet wide, but the roadway itself was constructed only 40 feet wide and was made of the material taken from the two wide ditches or canals dug one on each side of the roadway, which was enclosed by retaining walls or bulkheads on each side, with capstone and railing on top. Later the roadway was filled out to 70 feet in width, and about 30 feet beyond on each side of the way as filled was released back to the abutting owners, making the final width as at present constructed 70 feet.

From the end of the causeway near Moore Street, the road was constructed across Pelham's Island "in the most direct and practicable line to the nearest part of the Cambridge Road," which was the old road formerly called the "Way to Pelham's Island."

On the Boston side the causeway was built from the end of the bridge near Grove Street to near what is now South Russell Street, Boston. This made the total length of bridge and causeways about 8,800 feet, or 1 2/3 miles.

The "Pelham's Island" here referred to was a tract of upland containing about 20 acres, slightly elevated above the marsh land, and extending from near the present location of Moore Street to near Columbia Street. It was largely surrounded by marsh land, and on the west was bounded by a brook or narrow creek which crossed the

 

1. For a more complete description of the Cambridge bridges see paper, “An Historical Account of Some Bridges over the Charles River," in Cambridge Historical Society, Proceedings,vii, 51 et seq.

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present location of Massachusetts Avenue near Lafayette Square, making it an island at high tide. It was so called because it was owned at one time by Herbert Pelham, who came from England to this country in 1638 or 1639 and settled in Cambridge at the northwesterly corner of South and Dunster Streets.

The following is an interesting anecdote which is related concerning Mr. Pelham. It seems that on November 17,1638, about the time of the arrival of Mr. Pelham with his three motherless children in this country, a Mr. Roger Harlakenden, another prominent and highly respected man in the colony, had suddenly died of smallpox, leaving a widow and two children and also the house at the corner of Dunster and South Streets. By his will he provided that £100 should be paid from his estate to the church. Mr. Pelham soon married the widow Harlakenden and with the combined families occupied the Dunster Street house, and in the spring of 1640 he paid the bequest by giving to the church a milch cow!

He was quite prominent in public affairs for about ten years, returning to England in 1649, and dying in 1673. He left one son named Edward in this country. [14]

In 1756 Ralph Inman, for whom Inman Street was named, became the owner of the "island." In 1792 the land was conveyed to Leonard Jarvis, a large landowner at that time, and it was from him that the proprietors of the West Boston Bridge obtained the land needed for making the connecting road from the causeway to the "Way to Pelham's Island" above referred to.

The construction of the bridge and causeway immediately led to the presentation of a petition by James Winthrop, Esquire, to the Court of Sessions, to "improve the road which leads from Pelham's Island in the Town of Cambridge to the public meeting house in the first parish of said Town." A committee was appointed by the court which reported September 18, 1793, recommending that the way be laid out, with some alterations in the lines, by certain bounds and measurements.
As the description of the boundaries of the street included in the

 

1. Pelham was as near an aristocrat as Cambridge ever saw. His mother was the eldest daughter of Lord Delaware and his father a near relative of the Duke of Newcastle. His first wife, who died before he left Lincolnshire for America, was granddaughter of Sir William Waldegrave, and his second the daughter of Colonel Godfrey Bosville. His sister Penelope married Governor Bellingham. After his return to England he became a member of Parliament. (See Paige, History of Cambridge, 625.) See further, p. 96, post.— ED

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report of the committee is rather unique, a part of it is quoted here: "The northerly bound of said way begins at the northwesterly corner of the Causeway thrown up by the proprietors of the new bridge (so called) and runs from thence by a straight line to a pear tree nearly opposite the mansion house of Leonard Jarvis, Esquire, and from thence by a straight line to the centre of a barberry bush standing in the present old proprietors way near the wall at the northerly side thereof, and from thence by a straight line to the southeasterly corner post of the fence inclosing the yard in front of the mansion house of Francis Dana, Esquire, and from thence by the fence as it now stands to a small stake and stones nearly opposite to a blacksmith's shop on land of Wm. Winthrop, Esquire, and from thence by sundry stakes across said old proprietors way and part of the land of said Winthrop to an apple tree in said Winthrop's land near said old proprietors way, thence again crossing said old proprietors way by sundry stakes to a well in land of Edmund Dana, from thence by sundry stakes to a large stake in the fence near (and a little eastward) the parsonage house (so called) and from thence by a straight line to common land before the meeting house, to strike said common land fifty-three feet distant from the front of a dwelling house belonging to Andrew Boardman, Esquire, which finishes the northerly bound of said new Way."

 

Probably no better evidence can be given of the unsophisticated character of the men of Cambridge at that time than is indicated by the foregoing description of the bounds of one of its principal highways.

While some changes have been made in the lines of Main Street at certain points by widenings at various times, the street remains at present substantially as then laid out, and forms one of the principal approaches to the city from the east.

It was over this street that for many years one of the stage lines passed leading west from Boston. The following clipping from the Massachusetts Register of 1819 gives "A list of the stages that start from taverns in Boston." "New line of half-hourly coaches between Cambridgeport and Boston leave as follows, viz.: Half past seven A.M. and continue to leave each office every half-hour through the day until 8 P.M. Passengers taken and left at any place in Cambridge, Cambridgeport, and Boston. Office in Boston at 51 Brattle Street. Fare to Cambridge 25 cents, Cambridgeport 12 1/2 cents."

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It was upon this street also that one of the first horse car lines to operate in this country was located in 1856, first running from Central Square, Cambridge, to West Cedar Street, Boston.

CANAL (OR CRAIGIE) BRIDGE

The movement which ultimately led to the construction of the Canal Bridge and the two important avenues of Cambridge Street and Bridge Street was begun in 1738 when a number of Cambridge citizens applied to the General Court for liberty to establish a ferry between Cambridge and Boston. Another petition was presented the same year for the right to construct a bridge from "Colonel Phipps Farm" (now East Cambridge) to Boston. In 1785 another petition to the same effect was presented, but nothing came of either until after the construction of the West Boston Bridge in 1792-93, as before related.

The success of the Charlestown and West Boston Bridges and the acquirement by Mr. Andrew Craigie of the control of the large tract of land on and westerly of Lechmere Point led to a revival of the scheme to construct a bridge from Lechmere Point to Boston, and on October 27,1807, Mr. Craigie and twelve associates were incorporated with authority to build the Canal Bridge. It was called "Canal Bridge" because one-third of the shares were to be held by the individual proprietors of the Middlesex Canal Corporation, but it soon came to be familiarly called "Craigie's Bridge." The bridge was completed and opened for travel in August, 1809.

The original length of the bridge was about 2,800 feet, but prior to 1834 a large portion of the bridge at the Cambridge end, about 1,150 feet in length, was removed and filled solid to form a part of Bridge Street. Leverett Street on the Boston side was also extended about 400 feet to the present harbor line. The toll house stood on the northerly side of the bridge about 400 feet easterly of Prison Point Street. Together with several other bridges it was purchased by the Hancock Free Bridge Corporation in 1846, and in 1858 it was made a free bridge. In 1910 the entire bridge was removed and replaced by the solid embankment of the Charles River Dam as a part of the Metropolitan Park System.

CAMBRIDGE STREET

Upon the completion of the Canal Bridge in 1809, Mr. Andrew Craigie and four others were incorporated March 3, 1810, as the

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"Lechmere Point Corporation." They then held great tracts of land in the easterly section of the town, extending from the easterly end of the Point to a line west of what is now Inman Square, and they made plans for an extensive land development and sale. In this, Andrew Craigie was the prime mover.

It was first necessary to secure a connection between the new bridge and Harvard Square with its connecting thoroughfares. Two men, William Winthrop and Francis Foxcroft, owned the lands on the line of the proposed new street from its junction with the Concord turnpike (now Broadway) to near its crossing of the Middlesex turnpike (now Hampshire Street). These two men joined with Mr. Craigie and his associates in laying out and grading the way afterwards called Cambridge Street from its junction with Broadway running easterly to its junction with Bridge Street in a straight line, a distance of 10,800 feet. Unfortunately, however, Mr. Craigie and the two others did not control all the land on this line, for a length of about 750 feet near Elm Street was held by owners adverse to the Lechmere Point Corporation. The town failing to lay out the street, a petition dated June 6, 1809, was presented to the General Court or Legislature to lay out the street. To this the town remonstrated and the Legislature declined to locate the road. The road finally was laid out by the town July 10, 1809. Further litigation then ensued as to the right of Mr. Craigie and Mr. Winthrop to claim or recover damages for land taken in the layout of the street of their own promotion. This was finally settled on January 5, 1813, by the Court of Sessions finding that the two men "had sustained no damages."

The laying out of this street of ample width and on a straight line connecting these two civic centers was a great public improvement. Much of the land in the central part was low and flat, and at that time covered with wood and blueberry bushes. It was in this vicinity that the bear killed September 19, 1754, as mentioned in Paige's History of Cambridge, was reported to have been first seen.


BRIDGE STREET

Bridge Street was originally laid out, in connection with the Cambridge Street project, to connect with the territory lying to the north and northwest of Lechmere Point.

It began at its junction with Cambridge Street, now called Lechmere Square, where the westerly abutment of the Canal Bridge was

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first located in 1809. From this point to Gore Street, Bridge Street was laid out in 1810 by the Court of Common Pleas. From Gore Street to Third Street it was laid out by the town in 1829, and from Third Street to the center of Miller's River it was laid out by the county in 1839. At some time prior to 1834, Bridge Street was extended easterly about 1,150 feet over the filling to the new position of the abutment of the Canal Bridge, and in 1856 this portion of the street was laid out by the city as a public way.

EAST CAMBRIDGE STREETS
 

Immediately following the successful efforts of the Lechmere Point Corporation, with Mr. Craigie at its head, to secure the laying out of Cambridge Street by the town, the project of cutting the property owned by them into streets and lots was undertaken. In 1811 a complete plan of the streets and lots for the district was prepared by Peter Tufts, Jr., a well-known surveyor of that time, and recorded in the East Cambridge Registry of Deeds, and the sale of lots began and has since been carried out in substantial accordance with the original plan.

 

This plan, however, only covered lands extending to about where Charles Street now is. The rest of the large area extending to Broad Canal was subsequently purchased by another corporation called the "East Cambridge Land Company," who in 1869 laid out this tract along the same general lines as that followed by the Lechmere Point Corporation.

MT. AUBURN STREET

Another important act which aroused great interest in the town, which was then divided by opposing interests into two practically hostile camps, was the laying out of a new way from the junction of what is now Mt. Auburn Street and Elmwood Avenue to Brattle Square, forming a part of what is now Mt. Auburn Street.

The parties having interests in the new West Boston Bridge and connecting streets wished to "establish the road as now laid out from the garden of the Hon. Elbridge Gerry (Elmwood Avenue, corner Mt. Auburn Street) to the garden of the late Thomas Brattle, Esquire" (at Brattle Square). On the other hand, Mr. Craigie and his friends wished the new road to run from what is now the junction of Mt. Auburn Street and Elmwood Avenue in a straight line to the junction

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of Brattle Street and Mason Street, and offered to give the land and build the road as far as his land went. This, of course, would tend to send the Boston-wise travel over Cambridge Street and Craigie's bridge and so help develop the Craigie interests in that direction.

On December 26, 1805, the town voted to present a petition to the Court of Sessions in favor of the first plan, but at a meeting held February 17, 1806, this action was reversed, and November 17, 1806, the town voted in favor of the second plan, and May 27, 1807, the selectmen laid out the road as desired by Mr. Craigie. The town, however, seems to have again changed its mind, for on May 2, 1808, it voted to lay out the street by the first plan, appropriated $3,000 to construct the street, and directed the selectmen to build the street at once. Mr. Craigie and others immediately protested against this, and seem to have taken physical means to prevent the carrying out of the order; for on June 7, 1808, the town directed the selectmen to complete the work and prosecute "Andrew Craigie and others for trespass committed, or which may hereafter be committed by him or others upon the road."

On September 6, 1808, the town voted to extend the street from Holyoke Street to Main Street, thus completing the road from the Watertown line to its junction with Massachusetts Avenue at Putnam Square, as the part from Brattle Square to Holyoke Street was the original "Spring Street" of 1635.1

 

HARVARD STREET

Harvard Street is another important thoroughfare. Its easterly portion, originally called "Canal Street," formed a part of the scheme of development promoted in the early part of the nineteenth century

 

1.At the March meeting of 1809 the selectmen reported "that the road from Messrs. Orne's & Company store to the Mall, or the town road, near the Town Spring (so called) has also been finished with the exception that the railing on one side of that part which crosses the marsh is not completed." Orne's store stood near the foot of Elmwood Avenue. (See Cambridge Historical Society Proceedings, xiii, 85.) The Mall was on the southerly side of Brattle Square. It was one of the numerous improvements made on his estate by Thomas Brattle, when he returned from England after the Revolution, full of horticultural enthusiasm. He enlarged the gardens behind his house till they extended to the river, and "planted a long walk of trees for the especial benefit of the students, where they might take their exercise sheltered from the sun." [!] (See T. C. Amory, Old Cambridge and New, 21.) The landward slope of Simon's Hill (where the Cambridge Hospital now stands) was in the line of the new road, and was used to "cut and fill," thereby losing much of its substance. There is a tradition that so much filling had to be dumped into the marsh at the point where the road borders the river that the weight pushed up a temporary island of mud in the middle of the stream, after the manner of the celebrated “Culebra Cut" of recent times.— ED.

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to make of Cambridge a port of entry for commerce; and this part of the street, in addition to some controlled by other owners as far west as Norfolk Street, was laid out at that time. The portion between Quincy Square and a point just east of Hancock Street was laid out by the town in August, 1808, and the abutting land was put into house lots for sale by the heirs of Francis Dana between 1830 and 1840.

 

MUSEUM STREET

An unusual case of a steam railroad location being abandoned and afterward utilized as a highway is found in Museum Street. In 1848, a small branch line running from the Fitchburg Railroad in Somerville to a terminal on Holmes Place was incorporated as the "Harvard Branch Railroad." It was intended to furnish accommodations for persons connected with Harvard College and those located in the vicinity. The first train was run December 31, 1849. The road proved a financial failure and was sold at auction on July 6, 1855, to William L. Whitney, a Cambridge citizen, for $10,500, and the old station and land on Holmes Place was sold to Harvard College. Some of the remaining land in the old right of way was also taken in by the college. Another section of the old right of way about one thousand feet long, after remaining vacant for some years, gradually became used as a street and was accepted by the city as Museum Street in 1902 and 1915.

PUTNAM AVENUE

What is now called Putnam Avenue is a unification of several detached streets. From Mt. Auburn Street to Western Avenue, the present location is said to largely coincide with the old "Way to the Little Neck." During the Revolutionary War, a large redoubt was built easterly of and adjacent to this way, which remained visible until a comparatively recent time. In 1840, a street was laid out by the town on the line of this way and called "Fort Street," afterwards called Putnam Street.

The portion between Western Avenue and River Street was laid out in 1865 as "Kent Street," and in 1873 the street was extended by the city from River Street to Pleasant Street as "Walnut Street." In 1850, 1847 and 1838, respectively, the following parts had been laid out by the various owners, Pleasant Street to Magazine Street,

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Magazine Street to Pearl Street and Pearl Street to Waverly Street; and in 1873 the entire street was renamed Putnam Avenue by the city.

WENDELL AND MELLEN STREETS
 

The tract of land extending from Everett Street to beyond Wendell Street and from Massachusetts Avenue to beyond Oxford Street was originally owned by members of the Brattle family, and the daughter of Gen. William Brattle, Katherine Brattle, lived for many years in a house which stood near Wendell Street, fronting on Massachusetts Avenue. She had married in 1752 Mr. John Mico Wendell and was known during the latter part of her life as "Madam Wendell." Upon the death of her brother, Thomas Brattle, in 1801, the property went to Madam Wendell's two granddaughters, Martha F. Wendell, who married the Rev. John Mellen, and Katherine Wendell, who married the Rev. Caleb Gannett. Madam Wendell died in 1821 at the advanced age of ninety years.

When this tract was developed in 1847, and streets and lots were laid out upon it, the family names of Wendell and Mellen were given to the two streets.

OXFORD STREET
 

Oxford Street, from Kirkland Street to Everett Street, had been laid out about 1840, and by the development of the Wendell property in 1847, it was extended about 800 feet. In 1851 another extension was made and in 1858 Oxford Street was laid out to the Somerville line through the Frost estate, thus completing the entire street as it now exists.

The laying out and construction of these main thoroughfares and streets above described led directly to the cutting up of many of the larger estates by the laying out of streets, and the subdivision of the land into house lots for occupation and sale. The story of all these smaller street developments would be long and not especially interesting. It may be sufficient to say that in fourteen of the larger land developments from the year 1811 to 1873, about eighteen miles of new streets were laid out, with a large number of house lots upon them for occupation.

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NAMES AND DATES OF STREETS
 

Historic interest is often associated with a street not solely by reason of events which may have transpired upon it, but sometimes because of the name it bears. This seems to be especially true of Cambridge, where many of the streets bear the names of persons or places famed in American history. The following are some of the streets, the origin of whose names is fairly well known.

Eleven streets have been named for past presidents of Harvard University:

Chauncy Street for Charles Chauncy
Dunster Street for Henry Dunster
Everett Street for Edward Everett
Felton Street for Cornelius C. Felton
Holyoke Street for Edward Holyoke
Kirkland Street for John T. Kirkland
Langdon Street for Samuel Langdon
Quincy Street for Josiah Quincy
Sparks Street for Jared Sparks
Walker Street for James Walker
Willard Street for Joseph Willard

Six streets were named for members or relatives of the Judge Francis Dana family:

Allston Street         Kinnaird Street
Dana Street           Remington Street
Ellery Street           Trowbridge Street

The following were named for the nine prominent counties of the state:

Berkshire Street         Middlesex Street
Bristol Street               Norfolk Street
Essex Street                Plymouth Street
Hampshire Street       Suffolk Street
Worcester Street

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The following six street names were made familiar by the War of 1812:
 

Decatur Street         Lawrence Street
Erie Street                Niagara Street
Lake Street               Perry Street

Between Massachusetts Avenue and the Somerville line near the town of Arlington was established during the Civil War a large military camp called "Camp Cameron." There are now five streets there whose names are reminiscent of the Civil War and its Cambridge camp:

Cameron Street            Fair Oaks Street
Camp Street                  Seven Pines Street
Yorktown Street
 

The following streets bear the names of well-known colleges:

Amherst Street               Tech Street
Harvard Street                Vassar Street
Princeton Avenue           Wellesley Street

Some of the governors of the state are remembered in names of the following streets:

Ames Street                 Fowler Street
Danforth Street            Gore Street 1
Endicott Street             Greenhalge Street
Hutchinson Street

The following streets have names whose derivation is fairly well known, and also the approximate dates of their being laid out as streets by the original owners:

ABERDEEN   AVENUE, for  Aberdeen, Scotland, by  Alex.       Laid out
McDonald, landowner..................................................................1886
AGASSIZ STREET, for Prof. Louis Agassiz, naturalist................1886
ALLSTON STREET, for Washington Allston, painter....................1838 and 1847
APPIAN WAY, named prior to 1837.............................................1800
APPLETON STREET, for John Appleton.......................................1861
ARLINGTON STREET, formerly called "Chapel Street".................1862
ASH STREET, ancient way to town landing.................................1684

 

In the neighborhood of Gore Street the impression seems to prevail that it was named with reference to the slaughter houses located there! — ED.

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                                                                                                         Laid out

AUSTIN STREET, for Jonathan L. Austin, landowner.................... about 1801
AVON HILL STREET, formerly called "Jarvis Court"........................1858
BALDWIN STREET, for Judge J. F. Baldwin, formerly called
"Tremont Street".............................................................................1853
BANKS STREET, by heirs of William Winthrop................................about 1844
BIGELOW STREET, for Benjamin Bigelow, early landowner,
formerly called "Beacon Street"......................................................1868
BINNEY STREET, for Amos Binney, real estate owner
and treasurer of the Proprietors of Canal Bridge.
BEECH STREET, until 1848 called "Medford Street"…………............prior to 1775
BENT STREET, for Newell Bent, landowner.................................... 1869
BERKELEY STREET, for Bishop George Berkeley............................1852
BOARDMAN STREET, for Andrew Boardman, early landowner…..1805
BOND STREET, for Prof. George Bond, astronomer.........................1842
BOYLSTON STREET. From Harvard Square to Eliot Street
first called "Wood Street." From Eliot Street to the
bridge called the "Causie" 1663 et seq. For many years
it formed a part of the "Way from Cambridge to Roxbery."
In 1838 the street was called " Brighton Street."
December 1,1882, the name was changed to Boylston Street.
BRATTLE STREET, for Brattle family, residents on
street from 1696 to 1801. Date of laying out of
street from Brattle Square to Mason Street unknown.
Mason Street to Elmwood Avenue part of ancient
Way to Charlestown. Elmwood Avenue to
Mt. Auburn Street laid out by county in............................................Sept., 1812
BREWSTER STREET, for John Brewster, financier and
landowner ....................................................................................... 1887
BRIDGE STREET, by Lechmere Point Corporation
as an approach to Canal Bridge................................................... .....1809
BROADWAY, originally a part of the Cambridge and Concord
turnpike, first called "Concord Street".................................................1805
BROOKLINE STREET, Massachusetts Avenue to Auburn Street
called "Canal Street." Auburn Street to bridge laid
out in 1851 and called Brookline Street in 1852..................................about 1824
CAMBRIDGE STREET, from Canal Bridge at Charles River,
now Bridge Street, to near Elm Street, laid out by
Lechmere Point Corporation as Cambridge Street prior
to 1809. From Elm Street westerly to Broadway, called
"Foxcroft Street," for John Foxcroft, landowner; and
sometimes called "Craigie Street" for Andrew Craigie.....................1835 to 1848
Name established as Cambridge Street its entire
length by city of Cambridge.............................................................. Sept. 26, 1848
CHAUNCY STREET, for Charles Chauncy, second president
of Harvard University.........................................................................1857
CHURCH STREET, for First Parish Church, formerly called
"Hancock Street," for Torrey Hancock.          Completed about 1835

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CLARK STREET, for Charles Clark, landowner.......................................1840
COOLIDGE AVENUE, for Josiah Coolidge, landowner.............................about 1850
CONCORD AVENUE, laid out as a turnpike road in
1803, called Concord turnpike. In 1829 taken by
the county. In 1846 it became a city street.
CRAIGIE STREET, for Andrew Craigie, landowner....................................about 1851
DANA STREET, ancient "Highway to the Common Pales."
Afterwards named for Dana family, landowners......................................1835
DAVIS STREET, for Mason Davis, landowner, called "Mason
Street" until 1840.........................................................................................about 1805
DUNSTER STREET, for Henry Dunster, first president of
Harvard University......................................................................................1632
ELLERY STREET, for Elizabeth Ellery, wife of Edmund Dana……………...1838
FARWELL PLACE, for Levi Farwell, formerly called "School
Court," name changed in 1872 to Farwell Place.........................................1830 to 1837
FAYERWEATHER STREET, for Thomas Fayerweather, landowner.
A private way on plan of 1760. Accepted in...............................................1851
FOLLEN STREET, for Rev. Charles Follen, originally called
"Follen Place."
GARDEN STREET, an ancient way. Until 1848 easterly end
called "Washington Street." Name changed to Garden
Street for the Botanic Gardens started in 1805.
GORE STREET, for Christopher Gore, governor of Massachusetts
1809 and 1810....................................…………………………………...........1811
HAMPSHIRE STREET, a part of the Middlesex Turnpike,
chartered in 1805. A county road from 1842 to 1846.
When Cambridge was made a city it became a city street,………………….1846
HARVARD STREET, for Harvard College. From Main Street
to near Windsor Street, called "Canal Street,"
laid out about 1804. From the parsonage at Harvard
Square to near Windsor Street, as Harvard Street, by the town....................1808
HAYWARD STREET, for James Hayward, early surveyor………...................1902
BILLIARD STREET, for William Hilliard, publisher.
Formerly called "Woodbine Lane."....................................................................1852
HOLMES PLACE, for Rev. Abiel Holmes, whose house stood
there.
HOLYOKE STREET, for Rev. Edward Holyoke, president of
Harvard University, first called "Crooked Street"..............................................1632
HUBBARD PARK ROAD, for Gardiner G. Hubbard, landowner……………......1907
INMAN STREET, for Ralph Inman, early landowner.
Massachusetts Avenue to Broadway called "Inman's Lane"
in 1810, later called "Grove Street."  Extended to
Hampshire Street in 1835, and called Inman Street
its entire length.
JARVIS STREET, for Nathaniel Jarvis, landowner............................................1861
KINNAIRD STREET, for Lord Kinnaird, England, married one
of the Dana family..............................................................................................1852

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KIRKLAND STREET, for John T. Kirkland, president of                                      Laid Out
Harvard University, called "Washington Street" until
1830, sometimes called "Professors' Row." A travelled
way to Charlestown prior to 1631.
LANGDON STREET, for Samuel Langdon, president of
Harvard College, 1774-1780.
LEE STREET, for Nathaniel C. Lee, landowner...................................................1809
LINNEAN STREET, for botanist Linnseus, formerly called
"Love Lane." Laid out 1724. Name changed in....................................................1850
MAGAZINE STREET, for state powder magazine at Captain's
Island...................................................................................................................1818
MAIN STREET, originally laid out and constructed as
a causeway forming an approach to West Boston Bridge in
1793. Laid out as a part of Main Street by the city in..........................................1855
MASON STREET, a part of the "Way from Watertown to
Charlestown" in 1631.
MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE, Harvard Bridge to Lafayette
Square. Laid out by the city in 1889, called for a time
"Front Street Extension," includes part of a street then
called Front Street.
Lafayette Square to Quincy Square. First called "Way to
Pelham's Island"; later called "Road from Colleges to
West Boston Bridge"; still later called a part of "Main Street."
Quincy Square to Harvard Square. First called "Braintree Street,"
later a part of Harvard Street.
Harvard Square to Arlington line. First called "Road to Menotomy,"
later called "North Avenue."
From 1805 to 1842 the portion from Porter Square to Arlington
line was a part of the Middlesex turnpike.
Entire street named Massachusetts Avenue...................................................March 30, 1894
MELLEN STREET, for Rev. John Mellen, whose
wife was a Wendell, by whom the Wendell Street
and Mellen Street tract was laid out in..............................................................1847
MERCER CIRCLE, for Gertrude Mercer, wife of
Gardiner G. Hubbard.........................................................................................1884
MT. AUBURN STREET, Elmwood Avenue to the Watertown line,
a part of the "Way from Watertown to Charlestown" in ……… ..……………..1631
Elmwood Avenue to Brattle Square laid out
by the town and called "Lower road to Mt. Auburn" in..................................... 1808
Brattle Square to Holyoke Street, one of the first
streets laid out by the town and called
"Spring Street"....................................................................................................about 1632
Holyoke Street to Putnam Square
laid out by the town. …………………………………………………………….....Sept. 6, 1808
MUNROE STREET, for Edmund Munroe, landowner, one of
the incorporators of the East Cambridge Land Co.............................................1869
MUSEUM STREET, for Agassiz Museum, formerly a
part of the Harvard Branch Railroad location....................................................about 1855

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OTIS STREET, for Harrison Gray Otis, shareholder                                   Laid Out
in Lechmere Point Corporation.....................................................................1811
OXFORD STREET, from Kirkland Street to near
Jarvis Street ………………………………………………………………… prior to 1847
From Jarvis Street to city line,
by various estates....................................................................................1847 to 1861
PALMER STREET, for Stephen Palmer, landowner.......................................1847
PEARL STREET, Massachusetts Avenue to Auburn Street
laid out in 1822 and called "Inn Street." Shown on
plan of 1824 without name entire length.
PHILLIPS PLACE, for Willard Phillips (?)........................................................1851
PLYMPTON STREET, for Dr. Sylvanus Plympton...........................................1803
POTTER STREET, for Henry Potter, one of the
incorporators of the East Cambridge Land Co..............................................1869
PRESCOTT STREET, for Col. Prescott, formerly
called "Charles Street." Northerly end originally
known as "Pig Lane."....................................................................................1834
PROSPECT STREET, laid out in 1804 as a county
road leading to Prospect Hill, Somerville, called
Prospect Street in...........................................................................................1822
PUTNAM AVENUE, Mt. Auburn Street to Western Avenue,
called "Fort Street" in 1842. Western Avenue to
River Street called "Kent Street" in 1865.
River Street to Pleasant Street, laid out by city as
Walnut Street...................................................................................................1873
Pleasant Street to Magazine Street, laid out as Walnut Street.........................1850
Magazine Street to Pearl Street, laid out as Walnut Street..............................1847
Pearl Street to Waverly Street, laid out as Walnut Street................................1830
Entire street named Putnam Avenue for Major-General
Israel Putnam.....................................................................................................1873
QUINCY STREET, for Josiah Quincy, president of Harvard College,
1829-1845. Laid out from Kirkland Street to a little beyond
Broadway about 1811. Later completed through land of Edmund Dana
and called "Dana Street." Called " College Street" on a
map of 1841. Name changed to Quincy Street about the time
of its acceptance in...........................................................................................1853
REMINGTON STREET, for Judge Jonathan Remington........................................1844
RIEDESEL AVENUE, for Madam Riedesel, wife of General
Riedesel, Hessian prisoner of war during Revolution........................................1890
RINDGE AVENUE, for Frederick H. Rindge, formerly called
"Kidder's Lane" and later called "Spruce Street"................................................about 1847
RIVER STREET, laid and constructed by private corporation
and opened for travel........................................................................................ Dec. 11, 1810
Taken over by town in 1832, first called "Brighton Street,"
name changed to River Street.............................................................................Sept. 26, 1848
ROGERS STREET, for William Sanford Rogers, merchant of
Boston, shareholder in Lechmere Point Corporation and
East Cambridge Land Co........................................................................................1869
SHEPARD STREET, for Rev. Thomas Shepard, first called
"Avon Street.".......................................................................................................1845
SIDNEY STREET, for Sidney Willard.....................................................................1838

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SODEN STREET, for Thomas Soden, landowner..............................................................1833
SPARKS STREET, for Jared Sparks, president of Harvard College,
1849-1853. An ancient way, the Watertown boundary
until 1754.
STORY STREET, for Judge Joseph Story........................................................................1865
THIRD STREET, Bridge Street to south of Charles Street, laid
out in 1811, south of Charles Street laid out by county and
called "Court Street" in......................................................................................................1832
THORNDIKE STREET, for Israel Thorndike, shareholder in
Lechmere Point Corporation..............................................................................................1811
TRAILL STREET, for maiden name of grandmother of James
Russell Lowell..................................................................................................................1892
TROWBRIDGE STREET, for Judge Edmund Trowbridge…………………………………..1838
TUFTS STREET, laid out over land formerly of Peter Tufts, Jr.,
keeper of the powder magazine, 1818-25.
VASSAL LANE, for Vassal family, long residents in the vicinity,
an ancient "Highway to Fresh Pond." Widened in...........................................................1888
WADSWORTH STREET,  for Alexander Wadsworth,  early
surveyor.......................................................................................................................... 1902
WARE STREET, for Rev. Henry Ware..............................................................................1834
WASHINGTON STREET, Norfolk Street to Moore Street...........................................about 1824
Moore Street to Main Street....................................................................................about 1840
WATERHOUSE  STREET,  for  Dr. Benjamin  Waterhouse,
about 1800. Laid out in.....................................................................................................1724
WEBSTER AVENUE, first called "Medford Street," named
Webster Avenue in........................................................................................................1856
WENDELL STREET, for Mrs. Katherine (Brattle) Wendell,
daughter of Gen. William Brattle, called "Madam Wendell"………………………............1847
WESTERN AVENUE, laid out and constructed by corporation
in 1824-25. First called "Watertown Road."   Taken by
city and called Western Avenue on.........................................................................Dec. 22, 1855
WILLARD STREET, for Joseph Willard, president of Harvard
University, originally called "Liberty Street"................................................................1843
WINDSOR STREET, laid out by Andrew Boardman in...............................................1801
WINTHROP STREET, for Professor John Winthrop, formerly
called "Long Street".................................................................................................about 1632

 

 

 

 

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EARLY MAPS AND MAP-MAKERS
 

MAP OF 1795.— In 1794, the Legislature passed a resolve that the several towns and districts in the state should have an accurate survey and map made of the town or district and file a copy of the plan with the Secretary of State. These maps were to show the boundaries of the towns or districts, the county roads, rivers, bridges, and other data. In response to the resolve the town of Cambridge engaged Mr. Samuel Thompson of Woburn to make the required survey and map, which is dated April, 1795. It is small and crude.

MAP OF 1830.— The Legislature by a resolve dated March 1, 1830 required another survey to be made and a plan on a larger scale drawn showing all the roads, both public and private, with other data. Mr. John G. Hales prepared this plan for the town, dated June, 1830, which is here reproduced and is valuable because it is the first accurate plan ever made which shows all the streets and houses existing at that date. The total length of streets here shown is about thirty-eight miles.

MAP OF 1838.— The town now had two plans showing its boundaries, highways, etc. There soon began to be trouble from the tendency shown by many property owners to encroach upon the public ways and appropriate — by the erection of buildings, fences, etc.— portions of the sidewalks to their own use. To remedy this tendency, the town in 1836 authorized the selectmen to employ a suitable person to make another " survey and prepare a plan with the streets properly defined as now laid out." The selectmen engaged Mr. James Hayward to do this work, and he made the survey and prepared the plan and a very excellent report, which is dated January 15, 1838, both of which are on file at the City Engineer's office in City Hall. The following brief quotation from his report will show that he took advanced ground for the construction of wide and attractive streets:

"It is to be regretted that we have so many narrow streets, when we have so much unoccupied territory.. . . Wide streets in a town are attended with several very great advantages to the citizens. They afford a freer circulation and a purer state of the air in the warm season. They operate as a protection against the spread of fires. They give opportunity for planting their borders with trees, which, being in themselves an ornament, and an additional security against

69


the spread of conflagration, afford in summer a comfortable shade to the house which they adorn, and the passengers who walk the streets, and tend to the greater health of the community by their effects on the atmosphere."

His forecast for the future growth in population, however, does not seem quite optimistic enough. He says, "In a place like Cambridge, which is not only cut up into avenues to the city, but which is besides, composed of several villages so closely united as to form one almost continuous Towne of about five miles in extent and which is constantly thronged, not only with strangers passing through the principal streets from the country to the city, and from the city to the country, but with a busy population of nearly eight thousand persons, it is highly important to guard from inconvenient encroachment and impediment of every kind, that portion of the public highway which is appropriated to the use of the many who walk.

"If building and immigration shall continue to increase in Cambridge as they have done for several years past, we are likely in a short time to number a population of ten thousand souls."

It seems fitting that some mention should be made in this place of those men who, as engineers and surveyors, were instrumental in planning and laying out what has developed into quite a complete system of metropolitan streets, and who thus have performed an important public service in promoting a better civic and social life in this community. It is to be regretted that the information concerning the life and work of these men is so meagre, but the following are such facts as it has been possible to obtain regarding some of them.

DAVID FISKE seems to have been the first man who was designated as a "surveyor" in the early town records. Mr. Fiske came from Watertown in 1646 and bought a lot of land then facing on the Common, now Linnaean Street, near Garden Street. His trade was that of wheelwright, and he seems to have combined that with public work and surveying. His early experience in Cambridge proved to have been a little unfortunate, for on September 4, 1646, the year of his arrival, it was ordered " David Fiske, for two hogs taken contrary to ye Town orderes is fined 8 p- "!

He frequently acted for the town in the capacity of surveyor and as a kind of referee for many years. In 1683, it is recorded that in a matter of a division of land near Concord, shown on a plot drawn by Ensign David Fiske, it was " ordered that Ensign Fiske is chosen sur-

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veyor and it is left to him, Samuel Champne, and Samuel Stone, Sr., and John Watson, or any two of them, whereof the surveyor is to be one: First, to state and settle all county roads that ly through the land of the width the law directs, and then to lay out highways from the farms already settled in the common unto this Town, of two rods wide between the divisions where need requires a highway." Mr. Fiske moved to the "Farms" (now Lexington) about 1660 and died there in February, 1710/11, aged eighty-seven years.1

SAMUEL DANFORTH. The oldest plan of land in Cambridge found recorded at the Registry of Deeds, East Cambridge, was drawn by Samuel Danforth, Surveyor, dated March 27, 1739, and showed certain lands owned by Daniel Champney.2

ABRAHAM FULLER. Another interesting old plan recorded in East Cambridge, dated April 14,1760, shows a large tract of land on Brattle Street between Sparks Street and Fayerweather Street, belonging at that time to Lee, Marrett, and Thatcher, drawn by Abraham Fuller.3

SAMUEL THOMPSON was born October 30,1731, and died August 17, 1820. He lived in Woburn, where he was a well-known surveyor. He was an ardent patriot in the Revolution and fought in the American Army. In compliance with the resolve of the Legislature of June 26, 1794, already referred to, the town of Cambridge engaged Mr. Thompson to make the required surveys and a map of the town, which was dated April, 1795, and is still in existence. This map is of interest, as it is the first official plan of the town known to be drawn from actual surveys.

OSGOOD CARLETON, "teacher of Mathematics," as he styles himself, began the practice of surveying in the latter part of the eighteenth

 

1.See further, p. 94, post.

2. Danforth was one of the most prominent and useful men of his time in Cambridge — graduate of Harvard College in 1715, schoolmaster from about 1720, selectman, representative, member of the Council for thirty-six years in succession, justice of the peace, register and subsequently judge of probate for Middlesex till the Revolutionary War, and simultaneously judge of the Court of Common Pleas. He lived for fifty years on the easterly side of Dunster Street. At the outbreak of the war, like other Crown officers, he naturally espoused the royal cause, but was so “moderate” that his property was not disturbed. He himself, however, retired to Boston where he died two years later in 1777, aged about 81.    He is buried in the old town burying ground in Harvard Square. (See  History of Cambridge, 532).— ED.

 3.. Abraham Fuller was born in 1720, son of Joseph and Lydia (Jackson) Fuller and great-grandson of John Fuller, one of the original settlers on the “south side of the river” (now Newton). He was an extremely versatile genius, being a colonel, a judge, a surveyor and a representative for 18 years between 1764 and 1790. His wife was Sarah Dyer. Among other jobs he resurveyed the boundary between  Cambridge and Charlestown (now Somerville) in 1771. See p. 42, ante.— ED.

 

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century, and a considerable number of early maps and plans of his relating to Cambridge are in existence, notably a plan of the causeway to the West Boston Bridge made in 1792, showing the lines and areas of land taken for the causeway.

PETER TUFTS, JR., born in December, 1774, was a well-known early surveyor who made a great many plans of estates and streets in Cambridge and adjoining towns. He was born and lived in that part of Charlestown now called Somerville, where he was the keeper of a powder magazine. He moved to Cambridge and became the keeper of the powder magazine at Captain's Island about 1818. He lived for several years on Magazine Street near the street now called "Tufts Street," which was laid out on land formerly held by him. His map of the Cambridgeport Parish, 1824, shows his estate with buildings, yards, duck ponds, etc., in detail. Many of his plans were embellished with a large, brilliantly colored compass point. Paige records the fact that Peter Tufts, Sr., was a contributor of 14 pounds 2 shillings to the enlargement of the Meeting House in Harvard Square about 1756, and that Peter Tufts, Jr., and thirty-three others were incorporated in 1822 as the "First Universalist Church in Cambridge." He died in 1825.

ALEXANDER WADSWORTH was born in Maine in 1806, came to Boston in 1825, and soon opened an office of his own, boarding at the "Bunch of Grapes" Tavern, the meeting place, it may be remembered of the Proprietors of the West Boston Bridge for many years.

Mr. Wadsworth prepared the plans by which Mt. Auburn Cemetery was laid out, also Salem Cemetery, and Pemberton Square in Boston. Of the many plans drawn by Mr. Wadsworth on record, a large proportion of them are of Cambridge properties, many of them being of the large estates, such as the Dana estate, Craigie estate, Fayerweather estate, and others. Mr. Wadsworth was active during his long life until extreme old age at his chosen work. He was a prominent member for years of the old "West Church” in Boston. He died in 1898 at the age of ninety-two years.

STEPHEN P. FULLER made many plans of the Lechmere Point Corporation and adjacent properties in the period from 1822 to 1865.

WILLIAM A. MASON was born in 1815 and began to practice surveying in Cambridge in 1840, and the firm of W. A. Mason & Son still continues to carry on the work. Mr. Mason made many surveys for

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street development and real estate sale in Cambridge and its immediate vicinity. He died in 1882.

The following are names of men who have done important work along the same lines, but of whom but little is now known.

JAMES HAYWARD, plans date from about 1833 to 1837, and include a plan and report on the streets of the city, dated January 15, 1838, relating principally to encroachments of fences, etc., on sidewalks. [20]

WALDO HIGGINSON AND SAMUEL HOLT, plans date from about 1842 to 1845.

WALTER M. WILSON, plans date from about 1845 to 1875.

JOHN Low, plans date from about 1845.

WHITWELL AND HENCK, plans date about 1851.

JOHN M. BATCHELDER, plans date from about 1863 to 1904.

SHEDD AND EDSON, plans date from about 1859 to 1879.

ANDREW CRAIGIE, though not himself a surveyor, did more to change the map of Cambridge than any other man, and occupied a conspicuous place in the town's history from 1790 till his death in 1819. While he made numerous enemies and was not always overscrupulous as to the ethics of many of his transactions, yet his activity and shrewdness in carrying out his numerous schemes, many of which eventually proved of great public benefit, make the story of his life of more than common interest. Little is known of his early life, but September 5, 1777, he was appointed apothecary-general of the Northern Department of the Revolutionary army, from which his title of "Doctor" was derived. He was said to have made large sums from the purchase of supplies under his commission, also as a banker and speculator in this vicinity and in Philadelphia. January 1, 1792, he purchased the old John Vassall house on Brattle Street, which, during the Revolutionary War, had been used as Washington's headquarters, and at once made additions and elaborate repairs to the estate, which he enlarged, by purchases in the vicinity, to about one hundred fifty acres.

Of the many improvements which he made on the estate, the two which impressed the townsmen most seem to have been the ice house by which he could have ice in summer, and the hot house by which he

 

1. Hayward was a well-known civil engineer and was employed on the original surveys and construction of the Boston and Maine and other railroads. His technical knowledge and business ability led to his steady advancement until in 1854 he was made president of the Boston and Maine. See further, on p. 69, ante.— ED.

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could grow flowers in the winter. It appeared to many like defying Providence by thus perverting nature! For some years Mr. Craigie lived here in princely style, entertaining his friends and relatives in generous manner. It is said that he at this time employed twelve servants. Toward the latter part of his life, his ventures proved not successful and he gradually became more and more involved in debt, until, toward the last, fearing arrest, he dared not venture out except on Sunday. He died suddenly of apoplexy September 18, 1819, leaving his widow in straightened circumstances. She was Elizabeth (or "Betsy"), daughter of the Reverend Bezaleel Shaw (H.C. 1762), long the minister at Nantucket, and a near relative of the Chief Justice.

He was the principal mover in many public improvements, the most important being the construction of the Canal (or, as commonly called, "Craigie's") Bridge, completed in 1809. In connection with this was the laying out and development of the Lechmere Point (now called East Cambridge) section, which covered an area of over three hundred acres, extending about to Inman Square and including the important avenues of Cambridge Street and Bridge Street. In this connection also, the County Court House (civil and probate) and the jail — after a considerable controversy — were located at East Cambridge in 1816, the land (including the buildings costing $28,190.78) being given by the corporation. He was also active in the laying out of a portion of Mt. Auburn Street between Elmwood Avenue and Brattle Square as already described, and also the laying out of Brattle Street from Elmwood Avenue to " Wyeth's Sign Post" at its junction with Mt. Auburn Street.

That his activities and methods did not always meet with the approval of his fellow townsmen is shown by the order for his prosecution for interfering in the laying out of the portion of Mt. Auburn Street already referred to, and still further (in the controversy arising from the laying out of Cambridge Street) by the references made to him in the report of a committee of the town appointed to oppose a petition dated June 6, 1809, addressed to the General Court, and signed by a Mr. Thomas H. Perkins and fifty-two others, requesting the appointment of a committee from that body "to explore, view, and mark out new highways from the westerly end of said bridge (Canal Bridge) to communicate with the great roads into the country, in such places as will best comport with common convenience and the public good."

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The committee appointed by the town, Hon. Francis Dana, chairman, made a very vigorous remonstrance against this petition, stating that "the inhabitants of Cambridge and Cambridgeport are deeply afflicted by the incessant machinations and intrigues of Mr. Andrew Craigie in regard to roads," alleging that at the last session of the General Court, Mr. Craigie had caused to be presented the petition for the appointment of a committee with extraordinary powers as to laying out roads in Cambridge, and that while they seemed to come from disinterested persons, some of the signers were proprietors of the Canal Bridge or were owners of lands connected with the proposed roads, and that while Mr. Craigie's name did not appear on the petition, he nevertheless appeared at the hearings with two lawyers in support of the petition, while the petitioners themselves were absent, this being "a continuation of a plan by him and his coadjutors commenced in 1797 and invariably pursued to 1809 to turn the travel in that quarter, and the same game he is evidently now playing by the petition signed by T. H. Perkins and others."

The committee to whom this matter was referred reported that " it is inexpedient for the legislature to appoint any committee to view or mark out any of the highways aforesaid."

 

CONCLUSION

We have now traced with some detail the origin and history of many of the more important streets of Cambridge as they have been developed through a period of nearly three hundred years.

Beginning with the original "Way from Watertown to Charlestown," which could have been only slightly better than a cart path, and the eight little village streets of the original settlement of 1631, additional ways of travel were added as the needs of the community required until at the time of the first survey in 1794, there were about 12 miles of public ways. In 1830, at the time of the second survey, there were about 38 miles of ways in use. In 1846, when Cambridge was incorporated as a city, there were about 51 miles of roads in use. In 1875, there were 76 miles of city streets in use, and in 1918 there were 735 streets of all classes, having a total length of 125.2 miles. Meanwhile, the population and the material interests of the community had grown in corresponding proportion — very slowly at first and then with a constantly increasing ratio until at the present time

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our city stands high in those things which make for the best in modern civic life. It may be of interest to look for a moment at the present street system of our city as representing the consummation of these long years of growth and development.

It is generally held by modern experts in street and city planning that the most efficient plan of the streets of a metropolitan district is one in which the larger centers of business, educational and civic interests are directly connected with each other by broad, straight thoroughfares, while the local and residential interests of neighborhoods and communities are served by systems of smaller or secondary streets and ways connecting with the main thoroughfares which form the trunk lines of travel and communication.

An examination of a modern map of Cambridge and its surroundings will show that while for a city of its size the railroad facilities for passenger traffic and accommodation are unusually poor, the system of streets as they now exist is admirably adapted to its requirements, while its civic centers are connected by broad and conveniently located highways with each other and with the spacious avenues of approach from Boston and adjacent municipalities. Upon these main avenues are located the major part of the electric surface car lines, while the subway from Harvard Square to Boston is, in Cambridge, located below the surface on the original location of the old horse-car line, first operated in 1856. An admirable system of secondary streets leads into and connects with those main avenues, furnishing ample facilities for the local traffic. For the excellence of this street plan, the city owes much to the foresight and broadmindedness of the men of the earlier time who, in the days of small things, provided so generously for the needs of the generations yet to come.

The streets of Cambridge certainly have a great historic and sentimental value because of their association with the lives and deeds of the great men who have lived upon them, and whose honored names many of them bear; but their greatest value lies in the fact that they have been an important factor in the progress of this community toward a higher civilization and a better civic and social life.

The following is a list of maps and plans of Cambridge having historic interest, which have been examined in preparing the foregoing paper:

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MAPS AND PLANS OF CAMBRIDGE

AT CITY ENGINEER'S OFFICE, CITY HALL, CAMBRIDGE

 

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