Historic Map

Neighborhood History Trivia!

Can you guess the neighborhoods associated with our trivia questions?

Use all Choices: Cambridgeport, The Port, North Cambridge, East Cambridge, West Cambridge, Agassiz, and Riverside.

1. Which neighborhood was home to the furniture manufacturer that produced the original furnishings for Cambridge City Hall in 1890?

2. At which neighborhood school did a teacher become the first African American to be appointed as headmaster?

3. Alvan Clark became internationally famous for manufacturing telescopes in which neighborhood?

4. Which neighborhood’s largest park was once a tidal mill pond that harnessed water power to operate a grist mill and a rope walk?

5. Joshua Bowen Smith (1813-1879) was an influential African American businessman, ardent abolitionist, and State representative. In which neighborhood did he purchase his house?

6. Camp Cameron was a Civil war training encampment in which neighborhood?

7. In which neighborhood did the introduction of an electric streetcar line in 1894 result in a building boom of mostly two- and three-family homes?

Scroll down to see answers…and good luck!

Trolley from the 1920's
Figure 1
Furniture Factory
Figure 2

Answers

1. Which neighborhood was home to the furniture manufacturer that produced the original furnishings for Cambridge City Hall in 1890?

Answer: East Cambridge. Ferdinand Geldowsky moved to a home at 80 Otis Street in 1863 and established a large furniture manufacturing business in East Cambridge. After financial difficulties, Geldowsky’s company was absorbed by a Cambridgeport furniture maker, Keeler & Company. When Cambridge City Hall opened in October 1890 it was furnished with grand quarter sawn oak furniture supplied by the combined firm. (Figure 2)

2. At which neighborhood school did a teacher become the first African American to be appointed as headmaster?

Maria BaldwinAnswer: Agassiz School. Maria Louise Baldwin (1856-1922) was born and raised in Cambridge and graduated from Cambridge High School in 1874. In 1882, under pressure from the Cambridge African-American community, Baldwin was hired as a primary school teacher at Agassiz Grammar School on Sacramento Street. She was promoted to principal in 1889, the first black woman principal in Massachusetts. Then, in 1916, when a new, larger Agassiz School was completed, she was made headmaster, the first person of color in Massachusetts to be appointed to that position. The Agassiz was renamed in 2002 as the Maria L. Baldwin School.

3. Alvan Clark became internationally famous for manufacturing telescopes in which neighborhood?

telescopeAnswer: Cambridgeport. In 1860 Alvan Clark built a small telescope factory on the corner of Henry and Brookline streets, adjacent to his home. The factory grew to become the most prominent in New England, and Clark’s refracting telescopes were shipped all over the world. Alvan Clark & Sons produced the 40-inch diameter refractor telescope still in use at the Yerkes Observatory at the University of Chicago. It is the largest lens telescope in use in the world.

4. Which neighborhood’s largest park was once a tidal mill pond that harnessed water power to operate a grist mill and a rope walk?

Answer: Riverside. Hoyt Field originated as a salt-marsh pond that was dammed for water power in 1839. The dam, at Memorial Drive, allowed the pond to fill at high tide; as the tide receded, the outflowing water powered a grist mill and a rope walk (a building where rope was made). In 1880 the neighbors petitioned the City to fill the pond. In 1924 “Mill Pond Field” was renamed for Corporal Russell E. Hoyt, U. S. Army, who was killed in action in France in 1918.

5. Joshua Bowen Smith (1813-1879) was an influential African American businessman, ardent abolitionist, and State representative. In which neighborhood did he purchase his house?

Image of houseAnswer: The Port. Born free in Pennsylvania in 1813, Smith came to Boston in 1836 and worked at South Boston’s Mount Washington House hotel. In 1849 he opened his own catering business and in 1852 bought his house on Norfolk Street. He was a staunch member of the Boston Vigilance Committee, which protected fugitive slaves from capture by bounty hunters then a return to slavery in the South. He worked with the era’s best-known abolitionists, including Lewis Hayden and Senator Charles Sumner. Smith was elected to the state legislature 1873 and 1874.

6. Camp Cameron was a Civil war training encampment in which neighborhood?

Answer: North Cambridge. Named for Simon Cameron, President Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Camp Cameron occupied a 140 acre tract along Massachusetts Avenue. The name changed to Camp Day in 1862 and closed later that year when training operations were transferred to Fort Independence in Boston Harbor.

7. In which neighborhood did the introduction of an electric streetcar line in 1894 result in a building boom of mostly two- and three-family homes?

Answer: West Cambridge. The isolation of West Cambridge was dramatically altered in the mid-1890s with the opening of an electric streetcar route through the area. This transportation amenity stimulated subdivision and development of vacant land. The side streets were built up into a classic streetcar suburb, with two-family houses and three-deckers. (Figure 1)

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Lee Gianetti

Director of Communications and Community Relations

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