Porter Square

Porter Square

Porter Square is a neighborhood of Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA, located around the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Somerville Avenue, between Harvard and Davis Squares. The Porter Square station is one of the stops on the Red Line, and of the Commuter Rail, both part of the MBTA. The station is approximately 200 yards from the border with Somerville, so "Porter Square" inhabitants include residents of both cities.

Porter Square was named for the now-vanished Porter's Hotel, operated by Zachariah B. Porter, who also left his name to the hotel's specialty, the cut of steak now known as porterhouse. The square, formerly flanked by cattle yards that used the Porter rail head to transport their beef through the US, was an important center for commerce and light industry as early as the late 18th century. In 1984 the Red Line was extended from Harvard through Porter and Davis Square to its present terminus at Alewife, a project that also left Porter with its most visible landmark, Susumu Shingu's 46-foot stainless steel kinetic sculpture entitled "Gift of the Wind."

A prominent feature of the Porter Square skyline is the tower on the Art Deco-style University Hall building, which was a Sears, Roebuck from 1928 to 1985. In 1991, Lesley University began leasing classroom space there, and in 1994 it bought the building, known then as the Porter Exchange building, in which it now houses its bookstore and art and dance studios in addition to classrooms.

Lesley University continues to expand in the Porter Square neighborhood, with current [http://www.lesley.edu/public_affairs/portersquare/aibrelocation.html plans] to relocate the Art Institute of Boston to the site occupied by the North Prospect Church on Massachusetts Avenue across the street from University Hall.

In addition to its Lesley facilities, University Hall contains many (mostly Japanese) small shops and restaurants, including Bluefin (Japanese cuisine), and a Bally Total Fitness gym. The concentration of Japanese establishments has resulted in some referring to it unofficially as Japantown-Cambridge.

The Porter Square Shopping Center contains a Shaw's (formerly Star Market), Tags Hardware, [http://www.tagshardware.com] CVS/pharmacy, an independent bookstore called Porter Square Books, [http://www.portersquarebooks.com] a Cambridge Naturals store, [http://www.cambridgenaturals.com] Mudflat pottery gallery, [http://www.mudflat.org/general/gallery.htm] Emack & Bolio's, the Johnson Dental Clinic, and a parking lot known for its lack of parking and its strict two-hours-or-you're-towed policy.

Restaurants in the area include Qdoba, Wok & Roll (Chinese), Tacos Lupita (Salvadoran), Sugar & Spice (Thai), Christopher's (American), Passage to India, and Elephant Walk (Cambodian). Porter Square is also home to Toad, a bar that features a live band every night.

From 2004 to mid-2006 the intersection of Massachusetts and Somerville Avenue, including the area in front of the strip mall, underwent extensive construction to improve access for pedestrians, bicyclists, and mass transit users, improve drainage and stormwater conditions. The artist Toshihiro Katayama of Harvard University, in conjunction with the landscape architect Cynthia Smith, designed a new visual look for the square including contrasting light and dark concrete paving, stone walls and boulders. [cite web | title = Architecturally Speaking by Gary Wang | url = http://thealewife.typepad.com/weblog/2007/08/architecturally.html | accessdate = 2008-04-15]


External links

* [http://www.cambridgema.gov/~CDD/et/infra/psq/psq.html Description of Porter Square design project] from Cambridge community development site
* [http://www.lesley.edu/news/publications/magazine/archive_issues/features_porter.html Article about University Hall building] in Lesley University magazine
* [http://www.portersquare.net/ PSNA] Porter Square Neighbors Association

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