Cambridge Street: Memorial of City's Past

An irreplaceable treasure and a glimpse at what neighborhood living once was, Cambridge Street links Harvard to a simpler time. It is a story of human existence, and it is a chronicle of change.

Although the street names, buildings and people transcend any one point in time, the area is showing subtle and at times more overt signs of metamorphosis. Like Ebbets Field and soon Fenway Park before it, aspects of the community seem inexorably destined to be lost.

But they are never forgotten.

The spirit of Cambridge Street lives on in the hearts of its residents and visitors. It is here that strangers still feel comfortable discussing local politics over lunch. Here passers-by still offer a howdy and handshake. The people care about each other, and they all share one experience in common: a street.

And it's called home.


Jumping off Point

The journey down Cambridge Street begins at the Science Center. Skies look remarkable blue for such an early spring day in the city, and none of the languidly lounging undergraduates seem too interested in studying.

All hell breaks loose when Cambridge Fire Department (CFD) Headquarters located at 491 Broadway roars into action. Later in the day, Deputy Chief Gerald R. Reardon says the CFD customarily responds to about 19,000 calls a year or about 50 per day.

Zabrina S. Lau '01, a resident of nearby Canaday Hall, attest to this fact. "I think it's great the fire department is nearby, but I do hear the sirens a lot," Lau says. "I suppose it is unavoidable."

Passing Quincy, Prescott and Felton Streets while walking eastbound, much of the old Cambridge splendor surfaces. Victorian houses protrude to the edge of the street, and torrents of tree pollen and flowers cascade from the Dogwood trees.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation workers are creating congestion in the middle of the street by placing necessary barricades, and a few angry motorists shout epithets at theconstruction crew.

Charles M. O'Malley, a member of the crew, sayshe gets a lot of shouts and complaints each day.

"Yeah, some people--I can't tell you what thehell is the matter with them--but they just thinkthey can go running around a'swearing at us. Wheredo they get the right?" O'Malley asks.

Pressing the question further, O'Malley adds,"You know, I hate to be judgmental, but the peoplethat are the worst are not the old folks or theteenagers--although they usually can't drive wortha damn, and a teenager almost near killed meonce--but the most difficult people are the newyuppies," O'Malley says.

"It sounds terrible I know, but they have norespect for our decency sometimes," O'Malleycontinues. "I'm slamming roads together so theycan drive to work twenty minutes away. They shouldbe taking mass transit anyhow."

A few blocks away from the road crew, tuckedbetween Cambridge Rindge and Latin School andHarvard Vanguard Health Care, sits SkenderianApothecary, a family-owned business since 1962.