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Encompassing historic Harvard Square, Central Square and Inman Square, this central swath of Cambridge bustles with street life, creative spirit and an intellectual atmosphere. Though mid-Cambridge has big-city energy, the scaled-down architecture and side streets of Colonial-era homes tempers the pace of life, making it feel more like a big town than a metropolis. The neighborhood attracts young professionals and couples who thrive in this eclectic energy and can afford the area's high rents. Though living expenses run high, the area pays residents back with excellent public transportation, arts and culture, and walkable streets filled with restaurants and shops.

The main thoroughfare of Massachusetts Avenue makes the neighborhood's busy southern boundary, while the area stretches north to Somerville, roughly following Line and Hampshire streets. Kirkland Avenue borders the area to the east, encircling Harvard University's main campus, and Prospect Street marks the eastern boundary.

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Rent Trends

As of August 2017, the average apartment rent in Cambridge, MA is $2,066 for a studio, $2,554 for one bedroom, $2,898 for two bedrooms, and $3,572 for three bedrooms. Apartment rent in Cambridge has increased by 4.5% in the past year.

Beds
Avg Sq Ft
Avg Rent
Studio
434
$2,066
1 BR
587
$2,554
2 BR
775
$2,898
3 BR
1,243
$3,572
Beds
Avg Sq Ft
Avg Rent

Ratings

94 Walk Score® Walker's Paradise
77 Transit Score® Excellent Transit
96 Bike Score® Biker's Paradise

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Parks

Small parks and tiny green spaces dot mid-Cambridge, allowing residents to commune with nature during long strolls down quiet paths. The Harvard Commons, also called Flagstaff Park, lies just beyond the University's campus, inviting the public to traverse 16 acres of rolling lawns and wooded paths. Nearby, students play soccer and Frisbee on the field, and kids climb and swing in the large playground at the north end. Leashed dogs are welcome here, and the paved pathways provide a scenic amble through the grounds, though the park's popularity makes some stretches less suitable for jogging than others.

Right next to the public library, the green lawns of Joan Lorentz Park invite locals to take a breather from hectic schedules. The small park boasts a sandy play area and swing set for kids, along with tennis courts for a quick workout. Leashed dogs can sniff and explore, and a pilot program for off-leash hours offers pups a chance to roam free.

Shopping

Visitors to mid-Cambridge can comb the eclectic small stores along Massachusetts Avenue for vintage clothing, rare records and indie board games, or head to Harvard Square for serious shopping, where prices tend to cater to a more well-heeled set.

Shoppers need only step off the T at Harvard Square to find a small universe of boutiques selling everything from handmade jewelry and independent clothing labels to violin bows and a store dedicated exclusively to the beloved children's book character Curious George. A few chains get added to the mix, including Urban Outfitters and The Gap. Browse book titles with the Harvard freshman at the Coop, Harvard's student-founded bookstore, or explore all three stories of The Garage, a mini-mall that caters to young crowds with a Newbury Comics store, Japanese Anime shop, tattoo parlor and clothing stores.

Away from the crowds at Oona's, stunning vintage coats, neon-colored jumpsuits and Hawaiian shirts share the racks with jeans and T-shirts. Opened in 1972, the neighborhood institution packs a huge variety into its small space, with hats hanging on the walls and a large jewelry display at the counter. Oona's sells at reasonable prices, though the curated vintage will set you back farther than your average thrift store.

Residents in mid-Cambridge can do their weekly grocery shop at the conveniently located Whole Foods in Central Square or trek a few blocks north into Somerville to Market Basket. Market Basket followers appreciate the low store's prices and wide selection, though many wish for more parking. Locals also supplement their weekly shopping by visiting the many small markets and specialty stores that sell prepared foods and staples late into the night. Asian food options abound at the popular Korean-owned H Mart, while the Harvest Co-Op sells fresh produce at reasonable prices, along with a small selection of healthy foods. During the warm months, locals gather every Monday afternoon for the Central Square farmer's market, where piles of fresh vegetables and fruit line the shelves alongside baked goods, fresh flowers and meats.

Cost

In Cambridge, residents pay more for housing than their Boston peers, though there's little difference in grocery or utility expenses. The average one-bedroom apartment in mid-Cambridge rents for about $1900.

Transportation

Many mid-Cambridge residents live without a car thanks to the area's strong public transit and walkability. Cambridge even holds the crown for Best U.S. City for Walkers from Prevention Magazine. T riders can catch the red line at the Central or Harvard stations and take the subway just a few stops to transfer to the green line at Park Street or the orange line at Downtown Crossing. Local buses provide additional service, with routes 69 and 68 running east-west across the neighborhood, and numerous bus routes running through both Central Square and Harvard Square. The T stops running at 1:00 a.m., but you can always hail a cab or call Uber if you can't find a cab at night.

A strong network of dedicated bike lanes and bike-friendly streets make Cambridge a great community for cyclists. The League of American Bicyclists consistently ranks Cambridge among the top 10 towns in Massachusetts.

In Cambridge, one-way streets and traffic congestion can make driving difficult, particularly around Harvard Square, where street parking poses a challenge during peak hours. But numerous parking garages offer a plan B, and metered parking can usually be found away from the crowds. The city reserves the best spot for locals, and residents can apply for a parking permit to score free street parking. To get into Boston, Massachusetts Avenue provides a straight route across the river.

History

Cambridge was built on the grounds of Harvard Square in the 1630s with a meetinghouse, school and market following the first homes and planted fields. By 1636, the community founded Harvard University to train the youth for the ministry.

Cambridge remained a quiet farming community when the American Revolution erupted. It was through the center of Cambridge along Massachusetts Avenue that Paul Revere rode to deliver his famous warning.

After the war, Cambridge expanded rapidly, and in 1792, the Longfellow Bridge was built to join the town to Boston. By the mid-19th century, the neighborhood consisted of an interesting mix of rural farm life and Harvard intellectuals, with shops dedicated to students and farmers alike. This unique atmosphere gave rise to a new generation of poets, called the "Fireside Poets," including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

Industry grew in the latter 19th century with the arrival of brickyards and glass works factories, and Irish immigrants settled nearby, followed by Polish and Portuguese families. The city's commercial center shifted toward Central Square and away from what was fast becoming the wealthier Harvard Square. By the early 20th century, Cambridge had grown into a major industrial hub, producing everything from ink to cookies and candy. But after the economic fall-out of the Great Depression, Cambridge's identity slowly began to shift to an intellectual community, rather than an industrial one. This transition was aided by the 1916 arrival of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, placing two powerhouses of American intellectualism within just a mile of each other.

Today, Cambridge has a thriving performing arts scene, with live comedy shows, burlesque and theater. At Improv Boston, comedians of all stripes join the stage to perform new material six nights a week to laughing crowds, who fill the space thanks to reasonable ticket prices and a bar that opens before every show. Though the Lily Pad mainly hosts musicians on its bare-bones stage, the experimental venue also stages theater, modern dance and radio dramas.

Every May, Harvard Square fills with crowds for MayFair, the annual free festival that takes over the neighborhood with four stages of live music and dancing, with past dance performances ranging from hip hop and locking to classical and Polynesian. Visitors feast on a wide variety of street foods, including Jamaican jerk chicken and homemade donuts, and swill down brews at the several beer gardens. Boston artists transform the streets with chalk art to help raise money for the local rotary club.

Though mid-Cambridge boasts no museums of its own, Harvard University showcases everything from dinosaur fossils to a room of luminous glass flowers at its Museum of Natural History just a few blocks north of Kirkland Street. Just east of the neighborhood's boundaries, the MIT Museum puts together fascinating exhibits that explore scientific discoveries and new technologies.

Restaurants

Mid-Cambridge has a bustling restaurant scene, though the most crowded stretches lie to the south of Harvard Square and east of Central Square, just beyond mid-Cambridge's boundaries. No one goes hungary here with choices from upscale American bistros, seafood and sushi to cheap eats such as Chinese, pizza and sandwich shops.

At the Russell House Tavern, chef Thomas Borgia reinvents classic favorites in his comfortable, refined tavern. The Boston Globe-reviewed menu features creative small plates and hearty main courses with New England-inspired flourishes such as fried Cape Cod oysters with miso broth or slow-cooked chicken with sweet-and-sour carrots. Regulars rave over the pork belly sandwich, fried until crispy and served with house-made kimchi. The after-work crowd enjoys the lively bar and pizzas cooked to a delicate char and decked with artisanal ingredients, including house-made sausage, melted leeks and mascarpone. During warmer months, the red brick alley transforms into a charming patio, complete with white linens and hanging lights, where diners can watch passersby on the sidewalk while feasting.

Bring your vegetarian friends to local favorite Life Alive, where diners line up for the flavorful yet healthy curries, salads and wraps, along with juices and smoothies. The neighborhood cafe attracts round-the-clock crowds and has caught the attention of the Boston Globe, which praised the inventive blend of ingredients. Standouts include the Adventurer, a confetti of vegetables with cheddar, tofu and tamari almonds over brown rice with a sesame ginger sauce, and the filling carrot cake smoothie, which arrives so thick and rich it resembles a dessert.

At night, locals hit Massachusetts Avenue for live music, dancing and drinking. The establishments near Harvard Square and Inman Square tend to offer more live shows, while lounges and clubs line Massachusetts Avenue around Central Square.

Big crowds pack the little venue of Club Passim, turning out to hear up-and-coming bands and established musicians perform live acoustic and folk music. First opened as Club 47, the venue has hosted many music legends in its day, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter Wolf and Regina Spektor. The bare-bones venue boasts excellent acoustics, and though the club doesn't serve food, patrons order takeout from nearby restaurants.

Phoenix Landing operates as an Irish pub by day, but after 10:00 p.m., the tables go away and the lights go down as an international roster of DJs spin beats seven nights a week. Regulars praise the drums and base on Elements night every Thursday, and an outdoor patio lets you cool off between sets during the summer. Reasonable drink prices keep the crowds coming..

For conservation over drinks, Shay's Pub and Wine Bar delivers a comfortable atmosphere and affordable prices that make the wood-paneled bar room a home-away-from-home for all types. The pub serves a nice selection of brews on tap, along with reasonably priced wine by the bottle or glass. During the warm months, customers crowd into the small outdoor patio, which offers the perfect spot to catch up with old friends, provided you can snag a seat. Shay's also serves good bar food for those who get peckish.

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Mid-Cambridge Apartments for Rent

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43 min
72 Kirkland St
Cambridge, MA 02138
$2,500 2 Bed Available Now
857-273-0301
43 min
8 Leonard Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
$2,800 2 Bed Available 09/01/17
857-706-2466
43 min
395 Broadway Unit 4
Cambridge, MA 02139
$3,000 2 Bed Available Now
855-847-8421
43 min
339 Broadway Unit 3
Cambridge, MA 02139
$2,650 2 Bed Available 09/01/17
844-641-8711
43 min
9 Magnolia Ave Unit 1
Cambridge, MA 02138
$2,800 2 Bed Available 09/01/17
844-814-5561
43 min
38-40 Myrtle Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
$3,150 Townhome for Rent Available 09/01/17
339-686-9924
43 min
4 Beacon St Unit 3
Somerville, MA 02143
$2,850 2 Bed Available 09/01/17
844-840-7673
43 min
4 Beacon St Unit 3
Somerville, MA 02143
$3,100 3 Bed Available 09/01/17
844-850-6463
43 min
885 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
$2,800 2 Bed Available Now
857-273-0354
43 min
11 Beacon St Unit 1
Somerville, MA 02143
$3,995 4 Bed Available 09/01/17
844-728-3918
43 min
45 Trowbridge St Unit 1A
Cambridge, MA 02138
$2,650 Condo for Rent Available 09/01/17
844-588-4518
43 min
72 Kirkland St Unit 21
Cambridge, MA 02138
$2,550 2 Bed Available 09/01/17
857-400-3252
43 min
276 Harvard St Unit 8
Cambridge, MA 02139
$3,200 Condo for Rent Available 09/01/17
617-274-8994
1 hr
898 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
$1,700 Studio Available 09/01/17
857-706-6920
1 hr
54 Fayette St
Cambridge, MA 02139
$3,950 4 Bed Available 09/01/17
844-506-9426

Apartments for Rent in Mid-Cambridge, Cambridge, MA

Encompassing historic Harvard Square, Central Square and Inman Square, this central swath of Cambridge bustles with street life, creative spirit and an intellectual atmosphere. Though mid-Cambridge has big-city energy, the scaled-down architecture and side streets of Colonial-era homes tempers the pace of life, making it feel more like a big town than a metropolis. The neighborhood attracts young professionals and couples who thrive in this eclectic energy and can afford the area's high rents. Though living expenses run high, the area pays residents back with excellent public transportation, arts and culture, and walkable streets filled with restaurants and shops.

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