Residents and students in Cambridge, Massachusetts are fortunate to have the beautiful Cambridge Common as one of their most popular public parks. Located near Harvard Square bordering several parts of Harvard University, you will often see a group of people enjoying a game of kickball, softball, soccer or frisbee at the Common. Families and children make good use of the large playground on the park’s north end. Maintained by the Cambridge Department of Public Works, the Cambridge Common is not just a major city park. It is also listed as a National Historic Landmark. The centrally located 16 acre park bordered by Massachusetts Avenue, Garden Street and Waterhouse Street has a long and colorful history.
It is revered as an important local resource and is well known as a lovely and historical tourist attraction.Among the sights to see is the majestic Washington Elm marked by a commemorative plaque. Legend has it that this very tree gave shelter to General George Washington as he gathered troops during the American Revolutionary War. Washington stood under this tree when he took command of the Continental Army. Other nearby tributes include a trio of bronze cannons, a plaque for Henry Knox, and another for Tadeusz Kościuszko. A little southeast of the Common’s center stands a memorial commemorating the Civil War with a statue of Abraham Lincoln and a statue of a soldier.There is also an Irish Famine Memorial sculpture created by Maurice Harron, a sculptor from Derry, Northern Ireland. It was dedicated on July 23, 1997 by then President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, and unveiled to an audience of 3,000 people.The popular Alexander W. Kemp Playground was re-built in 2009. It now offers a playing field, lawns, historic momuments, and walking paths. Everything this park has to offer makes it a haven for the neighborhood. Over 10,000 pedestrians and cyclists use the paths and sidewalks on a daily basis.The Cambridge Common underwent its last significant reconstruction in 1974. but the Cambridge Common and Flagstaff Park project aims to continue improving the park for recreational and practical use. The project will upgrade all pathway surfaces, benches and trash cans. It will plant over 100 trees, improve drainage and turf surfaces, and update the lighting system. Improvements also seek to unify the historic landscape of the Common by simplifying design.Other aspects of the improvements are meant to make traversing through the park simpler and quicker. Along the Mass. Avenue side of Flagstaff Park, the curbs will be moved out and a two-way bicycle and pedestrian crossing will be constructed with connections between Harvard Square and Mass. Avenue. Light construction is expected to begin later this fall, with heavier construction slated to begin in the spring of 2014. Full project completion is expected to conclude in 24 months.Whether it is your favorite meeting spot, your luncheon get away or just part of your daily travels, Cambridge Common is one of the many highlights of living in Cambridge, Massachusetts.