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Memorial Drive: Weekend Closures from Gerry's Landing Road to Western Avenue

People biking and walking on Memorial Drive

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) closes a portion Memorial Drive to motor vehicle traffic each weekend from the end of April to mid-November to allow pedestrians, cyclists, and others to enjoy the riverfront roadway without cars. The car-free area created by this closure is sometimes referred to as “Riverbend Park.”

Please note that this webpage is maintained by the City of Cambridge, but that Memorial Drive is operated and controlled by DCR. 

Looking for information on closures related to road races or other community events?
Check the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation's news feed for the latest news on event-related road closures.  

Looking for information on DCR's redesign project for Memorial Drive Greenway between JFK Street and Eliot Bridge? 
Click here to learn more about this project

Questions? 
Contact the Traffic, Parking, and Transportation Department. 

 

Current Schedule 

State statute requires that Riverbend Park be open on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. between the last Sunday in April and the second Sunday in November. This means that the portion of Memorial Drive between Western Avenue and Gerry's Landing Road will close to cars so that pedestrians, cyclists and others can enjoy the riverfront roadway without cars. 

In 2023, the park was open each Sunday from April 30 to November 12. 

In the past, DCR has expanded park hours, added additional days, and extended the season. If DCR announces additional closure dates or hours for 2024, this webpage will be updated.

DCR may announce changes to their schedule. Check DCR's Twitter account for the latest information. 

 

Meetings

October 6, 2022: In-Person Community Meeting

The City of Cambridge hosted a community forum in the auditorium of the Martin Luther King Jr. school on Thursday, October 6, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Approximately 60 people attended. 

This meeting was rescheduled from once postponed due to thunderstorms on September 13.

The October 6 meeting included:

  • Presentation on the history of closing Memorial Drive to cars to create a park. Click here to view
  • Brief comments from officials, including:
    • DCR Commissioner Doug Rice
    • City Councillor Denise Simmons
    • City Councillor Patty Nolan
    • Rep. Mike Connolly
    • Rep. Steve Owens
  • Comment period: Attendees shared their thoughts on Memorial Drive and Riverbend Park. 

September 14, 2022: Zoom Community Meeting

The City of Cambridge hosted a community forum on Zoom on Wednesday, September 14. Over 140 people attended. 

The meeting included:

  • Presentation on the history of closing Memorial Drive to cars to create a park. Click here to view. 
  • Brief comments from officials including:
    • Craig Cashman, Director of Government an Legislative Affairs at the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
    • City Councillor Marc McGovern
    • City Councillor Denise Simmons
    • Rep. Mike Connolly
    • Rep. Steven Owens
  • Comment period: Attendees shared their thoughts on Memorial Drive and Riverbend Park. Each attendee spoke for a maximum of one and a half minutes. 

June 28, 2022: Riverside Transportation Conversation

Community members stand around posters in Wheeler ParkOn June 28, 2022, the City hosted the “Riverside Transportation Conversation” seeking community feedback on transportation projects and concerns in the Riverside neighborhood. The event in Wheeler Park provided information and gather feedback on several topics, including the Memorial Drive Saturday and overnight closures. The City also published an online survey for those who couldn’t make the event.

Read the “Riverside Transportation Conversation Community Engagement and Feedback Summary” to learn more about the event and for an overview of the feedback we received.

Background

1892:
The City of Cambridge takes over the land next to the Charles River by eminent domain. The City develops Charles River Road and a series of riverfront parks. 

1924: 
The Massachusetts state government takes over Charles River Road and the riverfront parks and renames the parkway Memorial Drive.

1975: 
A pilot project creates a space for recreation by closing a section of Memorial Drive to cars. Longer pilots and more closures occur for the next 10 years. The temporary recreation area created by this closure is sometimes referred to as "Riverbend Park." At some point, the term also begins to apply informally to the permanent riverfront parks. 

1985: 
The Massachusetts Legislature passes a law requiring the Metropolitan District Commission (the precursor to the Department of Conservation and Recreation) to close Memorial Drive between "Eliot Circle" (where Gerry's Landing Road is) and Western Avenue from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Sunday from the end of April until mid-November.

2020:
As the COVID-19 pandemic closes indoor recreation opportunities, DCR begins closing Memorial Drive on Saturdays and extends the season at the request of the Cambridge City Council.

2021: 
The Cambridge City Council requests that DCR continues Saturday closures in 2021. 

2022: 
Saturday closures continue at the request of the Cambridge City Council, and DCR begins closing Memorial Drive from 8 a.m. on Saturdays to 7 p.m. on Sundays due to staffing constraints.

 

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