The Evolution of Cambridge

View of an area near Harvard Square, using maps and aerial photography from 1865 -> 2018.
1877 map of the area, centered on the same area: this orthoview shows hand drawn buildings at an angle, like an old school Google Earth.
Insurance parcel map in 1916 showing the area around the now Charles Hotel, with two large areas labeled “Car House” for railway stations.
Streetcar map of 1925 showing the city criss-crossed with streetcar lines.
1947 aerial photo of the same area, showing the large rail switchyards south of Harvard Square.
1969 aerial photography map shows the left train storage yard swapped for car parking.
1978 aerial image shows both large rail switching yards removed, in favor of large parking lots throughout the area.
1995 aerial photography shows many surface lots replaced by large building complexes, including the now-Charles Hotel and the Harvard Kennedy School complex, as well as a large park south of both.
Pictures taken at the JFK Library show a large internal glass atrium with steel frame infrastructure, and a view of the Boston skyline from the South.
2018 aerial imagery of the Charles Hotel and south Harvard Square area shows few changes from 1995.
1835 map of Cambridge shows a dozen or so buildings, with large parts of what is now MIT completely underwater.
1877 map shows the underdevelopment of Cambridgeport, and the Grand Junction railway line as the eastern riverfront of the city.
1895 street map shows a number of planned streets in the newly filled land east of the Grand Junction railway.
1922 maps of the East Cambridge area along Harvard and the area of modern East Cambridge redevelopment.
The Broad Canal, pictured here as a kayaking dock.
Properties where buildings have been built since 1968: new buildings in green, old buildings in purple. This map makes it clear how little Cambridge has redeveloped, with the vast majority of the city dating back more than 50 years.




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Christopher Schmidt

Christopher Schmidt

Local political evangelist and tech guy.

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