Swimming in a Countercultural Sea by Dick Cluster

For much of its brief existence between 1968 and 1970, the 16-page tabloid underground newspaper Old Mole featured a column of short items called Zaps on page 4. Here are two: “PEACE CORPS EXPELS 13 FOR ANTI-WAR ACTIVITY –– a real, live headline from the Washington Star.” “If it isn’t in the New York Times Index, maybe it didn’t happen.” … Read More

Composer Leroy Anderson: Cambridge Born and Bred by Jane Anderson Vercelli

While the entertaining music of Leroy Anderson is heard all over the world today, the composer who wrote “Sleigh Ride” was born, raised, and educated in Cambridge, thanks to his Swedish parents, who immigrated as children to the United States. They chose to make Cambridge their home because they wanted Leroy and his brother to be educated at good schools … Read More

The Cyclotron by Bruce Irving

For nearly 65 years, the corner of Oxford and Hammond streets was the home of a nuclear family quite unlike the others in the neighborhood. This one was large, mostly male, heavy on the PhD’s (with a few Nobel Prize winners thrown in), and housed in a pair of buildings called the Harvard Cyclotron Laboratory (HCL). Demolished in 2003, the … Read More

Washington Elm Debate Rages On: Fact or Legend?

The Washington Elm Tradition by Samuel Francis Batchelder The famous Washington Elm, standing in the middle of Garden Street at its junction with Mason Street, was the first of a line of six magnificent elms planted along Garden Street, the westerly border of the “Cow Commons,” about 1700. The second stood at the corner of the present Waterhouse Street, and … Read More

The Makings of City Streets By Michael Kenney

As we lean into this year’s theme of “What Does Cambridge Make?”, a look at street names reveals a product–filled past. Porter Square was Union Square until 1899, when it was renamed in honor of Zachariah B. Porter, the proprietor of Porter’s Hotel; many claim he lent his name to the specialty of the house, the Porterhouse steak. Porter’s Hotel … Read More

Cars in Cambridge by Doug Brown

With air bags, anti–lock brakes, traction control, and GPS, the Uber driver of today operates a very different machine from the family chauffeur’s open–topped horseless carriage of 100 years ago. But regardless of the generation, Cantabrigians have always loved working on cars. Today that tinkering is just as likely to occur in a university lab as in a backyard garage. … Read More

Chestnut Trees in Cambridge by Jason Weksner, Arborist

  American chestnut trees (Castanea dentata) have all but vanished from Massachusetts landscapes, thanks to the fungal pathogen Cryphonectria parasitica, commonly known as chestnut blight. The lovely horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) from Europe, although a different genus from our native chestnut tree, has now established itself in the local landscape. While smaller than the American chestnut, the horse chestnut has … Read More

Lights, camera, action… (From our summer 2007 newsletter)

On a rainy weekend in April, the Chandler Room at the Hooper-Lee-Nichols House was transformed into a movie set. With its pine paneling and open hearth, it became the Charlestown home of John Harvard and his wife, Ann, for a reenactment of the final hours of Harvard’s life on September 14, 1638. The film, John Harvard, was written and produced … Read More

Looking Backward: Club 47 and the 1960s Folk Music Revival by Jennifer Hance

Bob Dylan never made it in Cambridge. This was one of many fascinating stories told by folklorist Millie Rahn, who travels around the country to collect and document the history of the folk music movement. Closer to home, Millie is the folklorist for Club Passim and other regional folk music venues. She produced a documentary on Club 47 for WGBH … Read More