Old photos of Cambridge, MA
September 9, 2008 12:24 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for photos of the Cambridge, MA area taken between 1950 and 1999. I am especially interested in the commercial areas along the current Red Line route (Porter/Harvard/Central/Kendall), and the industrial areas southeast of Central Square. If you happen to know of any repositories of offline photos, that would be cool too. Thanks!
posted by rxrfrx to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Consider visiting the Cambridge Historical Commission. The archive is open to the public Mondays from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., Tuesdays through Thursdays, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. The collection is closed on Fridays. Also contact Cambridge City Hall (617-349-4000). I'm sure they can direct you to an appropriate contact who may have more info.
posted by ericb at 12:39 PM on September 9, 2008

The Images of America series of books tend to be good, though I can't vouch specifically for the one on Cambridge.
posted by one_bean at 1:29 PM on September 9, 2008

I may have dozens of 35mm slides of the former Simplex industrial area (where Universty Park is now). None however in digital form. These are primarily photos of businesses that were being displaced by MIT's development of the area. I see you are in Boston. If I can dig these up tonight I'll repost here. maybe you could borrow them...
posted by Gungho at 1:55 PM on September 9, 2008

Harvard Square - 1970's
posted by psyche7 at 2:29 PM on September 9, 2008

ne.transportation has been going nuts over http://historicaerials.com/ for the last couple of days; it looks like there's good coverage of Cambridge from 1971.

As above, the Cambridge Historical society is probably your best bet for one-stop research, but the archives/museums at Harvard and MIT have some images of their local areas. Robert Simha's book on MIT campus planning has some detailed material on the Kendall Square urban renewal.
posted by nonane at 2:33 PM on September 9, 2008

I'm a new resident in Kendall Square and am very curious what this area looked like before people and biotech moved in.

BTW -- the area from Kendall Square south-east to the Museum of Science was basically a wasteland populated with old, delapidated buildings, vast areas of open lots, etc. until the late 70's/early '80s. The old Lechmere electronics store -- basically a giant metal big-box retail store stood where the Cambridgeside Galleria is now located. Newer structures, such as the Sonesta Hotel, Dr. Edwin Land's Rowland Institute for Science, as well as Lotus Development Corp.'s remodel of 161 First Street and the building of their former world HQ's at 55 Cambridge Parkway and renovations of previously ignored buildings (like the Atheneum, the American Twine Building, etc.) kicked off development in the area that has continued to this day with all of the bio-techs, etc. sprouting up from Lechmere to Kendall.

BTW -- there was an earlier attempt to revitalize the area in 1965 by the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) which lobbied that NASA locate in the area -- supposedly a wish expressed by J.F.K. The CRA "delivered 14 acres for NASA buildings within the 42 acre Kendall Square urban renewal area." However, in December 1969 NASA "pulled out of the Kendall Square project without prior notification to Cambridge or the CRA" and settled on Houston (President Johnson's home state).
posted by ericb at 2:41 PM on September 9, 2008

You should also consider visiting the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (One Cambridge Center, 4th Floor). I'm sure they have a ton of resources.
posted by ericb at 2:50 PM on September 9, 2008

Checkout some old MBTA trolley shots I found and posted on Flickr.
posted by srlbraintree at 3:14 PM on September 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yes I do have about 2 dozen slides of the Simplex area all taken in the late '70s and early 80's. If you are interested we can meet. I'd like to have the slides back as there is stillobvious interest in the area.
posted by Gungho at 6:43 PM on September 9, 2008

« Older Purebred vs. Pound Purries?   |   You haven't got mail Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.