East Cambridge – Cambridge, MA

Located west of downtown Boston and across the Charles River Basin, East Cambridge houses one of the oldest residential neighborhoods in the area. Broadway and Main streets form the southern border, the Charles River Basin most of the eastern border, and the Fitchburg and Grand Junction railroad tracks the northern and western borders. This neighborhood attracts commuters who work in downtown Boston and want to live close to work without living in the city and Harvard University students who want to live close, but not too close, to campus.

Schools in East Cambridge

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

East Cambridge restaurants include a variety of cuisine, such as Italian, Middle Eastern, Asian and seafood. Restaurants are scattered around the neighborhood, including on Cambridge, First and Third streets. Locally owned and family friendly, the East Side Bar & Grille can accommodate a family meal with the kids or a special dinner date. Although this is an Italian joint, trying their award-winning ribs is a must. A small, intimate space, it can also host large parties of 10 or more thanks to a second dining area in the back. A water fountain provides the appearance of a romantic, Italian setting. Although the menu looks pricey at first glance, the portions are large enough to be doggie bagged and split over two or more meals. Plus, each entrée comes with a small side salad sprinkled with a zinfandel vinaigrette. On Friday and Saturday nights, come by before the 7 p.m. rush to take advantage of the shorter wait. The Helmand serves Afghan cuisine, with fresh-baked flat bread to start and homemade ice cream to finish. Thumbing through the menu, you’ll find a multitude of vegetarian options, including the Vegetarian Aushak appetizer and the Vegetarian Mantwo entrée. As the only Afghan spot in the area, it gets packed, so reservations are recommended Thursday through Sunday evenings. The restaurant sits far from public transportation options, so be prepared for a walk if taking the bus or subway. The Helmand has been named the "Best Restaurant for a Date Night" by the Boston Globe and has received an "America’s Top Restaurant" award from Zagat. Across the Charles River Basin lies the Orpheum Theater. With great acoustics and a good view from anywhere in the house, this old building has provided entertainment for Bostonians since 1852, with a few name changes and remodels along the way. For an evening of entertainment, locals in the East Cambridge area head to Courtside, a karaoke bar and sports bar. Get your name in for karaoke early, as spots for fill up fast. Firebrand Saints, a local bar located on Broadway Street, features a spicy cocktail with the same name, plus a full bar of other drinks and a variety of food, including deviled eggs, steak tartare, spiced carrot puree and whipped celery root. They open at 5 p.m. on weekdays and offer free parking with validation. Meadhall, located on the border of East Cambridge and Kendall Square, offers one of the area’s largest selections of beers and ales. Some of the menu items include poutine, latkes and buffalo mac ‘n cheese. Go later in the evening to avoid the after-work rush, during which grabbing a seat or standing near the bar can prove difficult. If you want to get a little more comfortable, snag a couch in the upstairs lounge.

History & Culture

Originally an island surrounded by Charles River marshes, the area where East Cambridge is located provided an entry for British troops on their way to the Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Concord. The Fitchburg railroad tracks were built along the northern boundary in 1843, with the Grand Junction railroad tracks built along the western boundary in 1847. Landfill helped provide the grid structure that allowed development to flourish in the area. Gentrification began in the 1990s to transform old factories into condominiums, turning a former manufacturing district into the residential neighborhood of today. Home to a mix of immigrants and professionals, this traditionally middle-class area has seen a rise in household income and home values. The Museum of Science, located on a strip of land connecting East Cambridge to downtown Boston, features over 700 exhibits and a butterfly garden. It also features the area’s only IMAX screen. The Multicultural Arts Center, located on Second Street, allows visitors to discover diversity through the arts. Along with two art galleries, the Center also hosts limited-time events by performance art groups such as Luminarium Dance Company and Actors Shakespeare Project. The East Cambridge Business Association hosts the “Smoke This” Rib Fest and Street Fair, which allows visitors to sample ribs made by several local pit masters. The festival also features live music.


Residents of East Cambridge commonly get around using the available mass-transit options or by foot. Lechmere Station, on the MBTA’s green line, sits at the junction of Cambridge Street and O'Brien Highway. Bus lines 69, 80, 87 and 88 serve this station. Kendall/MIT station, on the MBTA’s red line, sits at the junction of Broadway and Main streets. Bus lines 64, 68, 85 and CT2 serve this station. Residents can also call a cab or book a ride through Uber. Parking meters, located throughout the neighborhood such as along Cambridge and First streets, cost $0.25 per 15 minutes. Massachusetts Route 28 runs through the northern portion of the neighborhood, while Massachusetts Route 3 runs along a portion of the southern boundary. Residents can also access I-93 a few blocks to the north of the neighborhood. As Cambridge’s sixth most walkable neighborhood, residents can accomplish most errands on foot. The neighborhood has several bike lanes and paths and is also relatively flat. Bike racks can be found throughout the neighborhood, with several located along Cambridge Street.


The cost of living in East Cambridge sits slightly higher than the city average. The cost of goods and services, groceries, utilities and transportation remain consistent with city average, but housing a bit higher. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the neighborhood averages around $2,800 a month.


The center of commerce in East Cambridge lies at the CambridgeSide Galleria Shopping Center, including high-value and high-end specialty shops and boutiques. Locally-owned and located near the Galleria, David’s Shoes on First sells a large selection of brand name shoes at a discounted price. Find well-known names such as Nike, Doc Martens and Rockport. Aside from chain supermarkets, East Cambridge also has places to buy fresh meat and seafood. Mayflower Poultry Company sells freshly killed poultry, and other fresh and frozen meats. All meats are hormone and antibiotic free, and the poultry is free range. They pay for a half-hour of on-street parking to allow you to stop by and look around. New Deal Fish Market sells fresh and sashimi-grade seafood. They also offer a selection of gourmet products to complement seafood dishes. The Cambridge/Harvard University Farmers' Market, located on Oxford Street, runs on Tuesdays from June to October.


The neighborhood of East Cambridge contains seven parks. North Point Park, by far the neighborhood’s largest park spanning eight acres, has a playground, water-play area and walking paths. Costa Lopez Park, located off of Charles Street between Second and Third streets, has a community garden, playground and basketball court. Hurley Park, located off of Charles Street between Fifth and Sciarappa streets, has a playground and water-play area. Gold Star Mothers Park, located off of Gore Street, has a softball field, playground, water-play area, basketball courts, walking paths and sits next to a skating rink. Silva Park and Charles Park, two smaller parks in the neighborhood, offer only playgrounds for children. Lechmere Canal Park circles Lechmere Canal and hosts an Alzheimer’s walk each year. None of the neighborhood’s parks have off leash areas, and pets must be leashed.
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