Paris may have its arrondissements and New York its boroughs, but Cambridge has its squares. Harvard, Inman, Porter, Central and Kendall make up what is known as the City of Squares, each one with different feel and identity. Here’s our guide to Cambridge’s five main squares.
This bustling area is home to the American Repertory Theater, some of Cambridge’s finest cafes and restaurants (like Harvest and Alden and Harlow), and Harvard University, of course. The square’s street performers make it ripe for people watching.
Foodies head to Kendall Square for its rich restaurant scene with award-winning options like Mamaleh’s, Cafe Du Pays, Catalyst and Area Four. The square is also home to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and architecture from greats like Frank Gehry. If you’re up for a walk, Kendall Square is accessible from Boston’s Back Bay on foot via the Massachusetts Avenue bridge.
This square’s name comes from the former Porter Hotel, which sat in the area until 1909; the hotel was also the namesake for that infamous cut of meat served at steakhouses across the country. The square was known as a small “Japan town” and still houses authentic ramen and noodle restaurants at The Shops at Porter, a former Sears, Roebuck store.
Many of Cambridge’s best restaurants, including Little Donkey, vegetarian cafe Life Alive and Oleana, call Central Square home. Once the home of actors Ben and Casey Affleck and filmmaker Ken Burns as well as the Necco candy factory, Central Square’s rich scene is a draw to students and staff from nearby universities.
Vibrant, multicultural—this square was named after Revolutionary era merchant Ralph Inman, who tried to outrun both the British and colonists while remaining neutral. He eventually returned to his home after the war and the rest may have been history if his surname wasn’t immortalized in one of Cambridge’s bustling squares. Inman Square was the birthplace of the original Legal Sea Foods, hosted comedic legend Jay Leno for sets at the Ding Ho in the 1980s, and was home to the longest-running women’s bookstore in the country.