Kendall Square: Cambridge’s Center of Innovation

Ed Greable Blogger December 28, 2018

Located at the intersection of Main Street and Broadway, the Cambridge neighborhood of Kendall Square was once a salt marsh on the Charles River. Serving as an important transportation hub since the construction of the West Boston Bridge in 1793, Kendall Square has about 50,000 people who work in the area on a daily basis.

Kendall Square Businesses

Sometimes referred to as “the most innovative square mile on the planet,” Kendall Square is home to a high concentration of entrepreneurial start-ups. In addition to featuring several hotels and condominium developments, Kendall Square is also known for its many restaurants and food trucks offering a variety of cuisines. Some businesses and organizations that are located in Kendall Square include:

  • com
  • Apple
  • AT & T Inc
  • Bitstream Inc
  • Facebook
  • Forrester Research
  • General Electric
  • Google
  • Hubspot
  • IBM
  • ITA Software
  • Nokia
  • Verizon
  • VMware
  • World Wide Web Consortium
  • Yahoo

Kendall Square has a long history of innovation, having served as a major industrial center in the 19th century. By the beginning of the 20th century, it had become home to electric power plants, distilleries and soap and hosiery factories. The Kendall Boiler and Tank Company, for which the square gets its name, was also located in the area.

MIT and Kendall Square

In 1916, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology moved its Cambridge campus to an area south of Kendall Square between Massachusetts Avenue and Main Street. With the school being located so near to the square, the campus eventually expanded into the square, influencing much of the development in the area and helping to transform the area into a technology hub.

Later, as part of his Space Race initiative, President John F. Kennedy had many of the manufacturing businesses in the area removed as he worked toward making Kendall Square the headquarters for the NASA mission control center. After Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson proposed moving the project to Houston, Texas, Kendall Square still became home to the smaller NASA Electronic Research Center. The NASA buildings were later rededicated to a new DOT research center named the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center.

Kendall Square enjoyed further growth when Harvard University made plans to construct a high-containment lab for experimenting with recombinant DNA in the area. This ultimately led to the creation of the Kendall biotechnology cluster. By the 1990s and 2000s, a portion of Kendall Square had been transformed into a collection of office and research buildings housing more than 150 biotechnology and information technology firms.

Kendall Square Office Developments

A number of office developments have been constructed or are under construction in Kendall Square. Among these is the Cambridge Innovation Center, which is a shared office space for startups and venture capital firms, and the multi-building office complex parks of Technology Square and One Kendall Square. The @Kendall Square development, which includes a mixed-use live, work and play community is also located just one block north of Kendall Square. The community includes an ice rink, parks, a recreational boating basic and a farmers market along with residential, office, retail and lab buildings.

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