Harvard Square

Harvard Square

About Harvard Square

Home to Harvard University, this square is an international destination, mixing history and learning with contemporary arts and entertainment. A unique blend of restaurants, shops and cultural offerings draws residents, students, professionals and visitors. With approximately 900,000 square feet of retail space, Harvard Square functions as a regional center for shopping in an urban, pedestrian-friendly context.

The character of Harvard Square reflects three and a half centuries of growth and change. At the center is Harvard Square Station, one of the busiest on the Red Line with bus links both underground near the trains, and along Massachusetts Avenue next to Harvard Yard and the Cambridge Common. George Washington massed the troops on Cambridge Common and had his headquarters in Massachusetts Hall in the Yard—our nation’s history reverberates throughout the Square.

Brattle Street going eastwards meets Eliot Street and Mt. Auburn Street at the One Brattle Square project developed in the 1980s atop the bus tunnel that connects to the underground MBTA station. Heading westward along Brattle Street leads the visitor to shopping, pedestrian plazas, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, and the American Repertory Theater. Southwards towards the Charles River from Brattle Square is Charles Square, a mixed-use project, also developed in the 1980s. Nearby is the Harvard’s JFK School of Government complex and the JFK Memorial Park lying between the School and the Charles River.

At Mt. Auburn Street and JFK Street is the historic Winthrop Square, which was one of the very first open air markets in the pre-Revolutionary era—now, it is a well-used open space surrounded by a lively mix of cafes, restaurants, other retail, housing, and institutional uses.

Further east along Mt. Auburn is the area known as the Gold Coast, the name being derived from the several clubs developed for Harvard students in the early twentieth century. Continuing a loop back to Massachusetts Avenue at its intersection with Harvard and Quincy Streets, one finds Quincy Square, an open space revitalized by the City in the late 1990s.

Harvard Square Resources

Harvard Square Projects & Documents

  • Draft Harvard Square Development Guidelines. The Draft Harvard Square Development Guidelines are intended to help guide future incremental growth and change in the Harvard Square Overlay District, both as new buildings are constructed and old buildings are adapted and changed to accommodate new uses and changing fashions.
  • Harvard Square Bike Ban Area (2012)

Harvard Square Infrastructure Updates

For More Information

For more information on economic development activity in Harvard Square, please contact Pardis Saffari, psaffari@cambridgema.gov, or 617/349-4654.

For more information on community planning activity in Harvard Square, please contact Melissa Peters at mpeters@cambridgema.gov, or 617/349-4640.