Centered around the market square of the same name, containing the world-famous Harvard University and decidedly less famous financial sector around it within the bounds of the community, Harvard Square is a neighborhood of Boston known as a hip, intellectual, and offbeat place, with plenty to suit the young crowd of avant garde intellectual students that flock around the area. Living in Harvard Square is an experience like no other, with the wide variety of cultures that mix together to form a truly unique neighborhood, with plenty of fantastic amenities and attractions as well!
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Where is Harvard Square?
Harvard Square is located just west of the central nexus of Boston’s metropolitan area, right next to Harvard University, as previously mentioned. Harvard Square is a sort of sub-neighborhood of Cambridge, which borders Somerville and Charlestown to the north, and Charles River and West End to the south. The distance from Harvard Square to Downtown Boston is only 3.9 miles – an easy commute! Harvard Square is located within zip code 02138.
Harvard Square is centered around the conjunction of Massachusetts Avenue and Brattle Street. The Red Line of the MBTA has a stop directly in the center of Harvard Square proper, allowing for very easy subway access. However, the entire neighborhood is easily walkable, and many take advantage of the pedestrian facilities to do so every day. You won’t need a car around here!
Map of Harvard Square, Boston
Harvard Square, Boston, MA History & Overview
The history of Harvard Square is closely linked to that of Boston, Cambridge, and is almost as old as the English settlement of the United States itself. The area it occupies was once inhabited by Indians for many thousands of years, coming to be inhabited by the Naumkeag tribes by the time the English arrived over the Atlantic. However, the epidemics of diseases unfamiliar to the Indians, like smallpox, devastated these tribes, leaving the area of Cambridge completely empty when the English settled it in 1630.
Soon after the establishment of Cambridge, Harvard University, first named Newe College, was founded and built, the first institution of higher learning in the United States. However prestigious that title was, it didn’t attract many people until much later in its existence, and Harvard Square was little more than a rural town square for two hundred years.
Cambridge was hit by a wave of growth in the latter half of the 19th century, with Harvard Square becoming the economic hub of a now fully-industrialized city. While this would eventually shift to Central Square, Harvard Square would still retain its character as a business nexus into the 20th century and the modern day.
The population of the Harvard Square neighborhood’s ZIP code is around 33,000, and are well-educated – half of Harvard Square’ population has a bachelor’s degree, while one-third has a master’s degree. The average age of the population here is 29.4, pretty typical of a college-y area, and ethnically speaking is fairly diverse, with Whites making up 63% of the population, and Asians making up 16%.The median household income for Harvard Square is $104,641.
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What’s It Like Living in Harvard Square?
Harvard Square is centered around the confluence of Massachusetts Avenue and Brattle Street. Even if Central Square is Cambridge’s premiere business square today, Harvard Square still ranks among the top spots for shopping and general business affairs in the state of Massachusetts, according to the Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce.
While the confluence of streets may give the impression that Harvard Square may not be easily navigable by foot, that impression would be very wrong indeed! Owing to its pedestrian-friendly layout, largely unmodified from the period of development in the 18th and 19th centuries, you’ll be able to get around Harvard Square very easily by foot. Furthermore, almost everything you’ll need business and food-wise will be in the area, a necessity for the many Harvard students who need all sorts of things to maintain their college lifestyle.
As Harvard University brings in people from all over the world, Harvard Square is naturally bursting at the seams with diverse communities and interesting people. Far from just a college neighborhood, many old communities from the era of industrialization still remain in the area, too. Harvard Square is a nexus of culture in both Cambridge and Boston.
What to Eat, Do, and Shop in Harvard Square, Boston, MA
As we’ve stated many times by now, Harvard Square has shops, businesses, restaurants, and just about everything you could imagine, packed up against the beautiful campus of one of America’s most prestigious universities. If you’re looking for things to do, you’ll be better served by Harvard Square than anywhere else in Boston!
Perhaps the best known shopping area of Harvard Square, often frequented by its students, is The Atrium, hosting a large variety of eateries, salons, retailers, book stores, and more. While interesting stores and eateries are spread all over Harvard Square, you’ll hardly need to wander outside the Atrium to get what you need. If that’s not enough, The Garage on the other end of Harvard Square may be able to provide what you need.
If you wish to tour around the university that we’re sure you’re sick to death of hearing about by now, the Harvard Yard is open to the public most days, allowing for leisurely strolls around the stunningly beautiful Harvard campus. The Harvard Museum of Natural History is also a mindblowing place to visit, whether you’re a paleozoology fan or not!
Harvard Square also has plenty of great eateries as well. Notable examples include the Alden & Harlow subterranean restaurant, with high-class American fare and cocktails. Felipe’s Taqueria serves the much-beloved staples of Central American cuisine, with a position near Harvard that makes it supremely popular with students.
- The Atrium, 50 Church St, Cambridge, MA 02138
- The Garage, 36 John F. Kennedy St, Cambridge, MA 02138
- Harvard Yard, 2 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138, (617) 495-1573
- Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 Oxford St, Cambridge, MA 02138, (617) 495-3045
- Alden & Harlow, 40 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138, (617) 864-2100
- Felipe’s Taqueria, 21 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138, (617) 354-9944
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Harvard Square, Boston, MA Schools
Those who choose to begin living in Harvard Square will be served by the Cambridge Public School District, which has 41% of its schools rated “Above Average” by GreatSchools. While schools within Harvard Square itself are going to be a no-go, there are still plenty of excellent institutions of learning near Harvard Square in Cambridge and Boston to satisfy even the most discerning parent. Excellent public school selections include The Amigos School, Vassal Lane Upper School, and Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.
Of course, any description of Harvard Square’s schools would be incomplete without mentioning Harvard University. This prestigious college does not require any introduction, but prospective Harvard Square residents should know that the university shapes much of life in the neighborhood.
Is Harvard Square, Boston, MA Safe?
Wondering if Harvard Square is a safe neighborhood to live in? Worry no longer, because Harvard Square is a safe community to live in! The crime rate of Cambridge, Harvard Square’s home, is 10% lower than the national average, with 2,541 crimes per 100,000 people. The violent crime rate here is 27% below the national average, while the property crime rate is only 6% lower than the national average.
Harvard Square, Boston, MA Real Estate
As will be little surprise to many, Harvard Square has among the most competitive housing markets in the wider Boston area, and properties here will be quite hefty, whether you’re looking to buy or rent. According to Redfin, the average home price in Harvard Square is $2,400,000, although this price fluctuates rapidly due to the relatively low amount of properties up for sale here. The median days on the market for real estate is lightning-fast 8.5 days, while the number of homes sold annually is only one.
Unless you’ve got quite a bit of money to fork over and more than just a bit of luck on your side, you’re probably better off renting in Harvard Square. As for renting, apartments in Harvard Square have typical monthly rent of $3,518, according to Rentcafe.
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If you’re interested in looking at listings for Harvard Square’s homes, take a look at some Harvard Square, Boston, MA real estate options here.
Want to get started on the journey to moving to Harvard Square? While we’re certain you’re resourceful and hardworking, there’s no point in skimping out on professional moving help and stressing yourself out. Give Mass Bay Movers a call at 978-587-3775! Our friendly, top-rated Harvard Square moving team is equipped and ready to make any sort of relocation that much easier! Call or fill out our online form for a completely free quote.