Cambridge Riverfront Plan

Cover of Riverfront Plan

The goal of Cambridge Riverfront Planning is to expand the formal and informal use of the riverfront, explore destinations where people may linger and enjoy the river in addition to the active linear use, and realize the full potential for liveliness offered by this defining physical feature of our community and region. While Cantabrigians already appreciate the Charles as a unique regional resource, many obstacles (such as wide expanses of automobile traffic and lack of safe crossings) prevent easy access from abutting uses and neighborhoods, and detract from the enjoyment of arriving at the waterfront.

It is important to capitalize, now and in the future, upon opportunities to create stronger physical design relationships that could be lost without a focused plan for improvement along the river. The purpose of this plan will be to create a coordinated vision for how to realize more fully the original promise of the Charles River Basin in today’s context, to energize riverfront use, and to improve the relationship between the riverfront and Cambridge’s urban fabric: its streets, buildings, and parks - both new and old.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts (primarily under the aegis of the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Massachusetts Highway Department) owns the water, most of the direct frontage on it, and Memorial Drive. However, the designs of a multitude of adjacent uses in Cambridge (MIT buildings, Harvard buildings, hotels, office buildings, housing, retail, etc.) influence how people get to the river, and how they use it.

While the City of Cambridge does not directly control much of the riverfront, the Riverfront Plan will aim to create a vision for an improved and active riverfront with better access to the rest of the City. It is expected that the plan will serve as a guiding document as riverfront uses are explored, adjoining parcels are redeveloped, and as opportunities for collaborations with the State and other property owners and stakeholders arise over the coming years.

Read The Cambridge Riverfront Plan: Reconnecting People to the Water

Building upon prior planning conducted by the City and the State, Community Development staff studied the Charles Riverfront to create a cohesive vision for the riverfront in Cambridge.

In 2010 staff met with neighborhood and business groups, property owners, and the Planning Board to share a preliminary discussion of issues and opportunities, and to gather public input to inform the plan. The final report and plan was published in 2011.

For more information about riverfront planning and the Riverfront Plan contact either Roger Boothe at 617/349-4646 or or Iram Farooq at 617/349-4606 or