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Porter Square, Cambridge

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Neighborhood Tourist Spot
Porter Square is a neighborhood in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts in the USA, located around the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Somerville Avenue, between Harvard and Davis Squares. The Porter Square station serves both the MBTA Red Line and the Commuter Rail Fitchburg Line. A major part of the Lesley University campus is located within the Porter Square area.In 2004–06 the principal intersection, including the area adjacent to the shopping center, underwent extensive construction both to improve access for vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and mass transit users, and to improve drainage and storm water conditions. The artist Toshihiro Katayama of Harvard University, in conjunction with the landscape architect Cynthia Smith, designed a new visual look for the new circulation design, including contrasting light and dark concrete paving, stone walls and boulders.HistoryPreviously called Union Square, Porter Square was renamed in 1899 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 known as porterhouse. The hotel was demolished in 1909. The square, formerly flanked by cattle yards that used the Porter rail head to transport their beef throughout the US, was an important center for commerce and light industry as early as the late 18th century. A tunnel for moving cattle to and from the railroad without interfering with street traffic, known as the Walden Street Cattle Pass, was built in 1857. The tunnel survives under the nearby Walden Street Bridge, and in 2007–08 was preserved and restored. The "most dramatic loss" of 19th century landscape in the square was the leveling of the old Rand Estate in 1952 to make way for the Porter Square Shopping Center.
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Where to stay in Cambridge

As the home of two renowned universities, Cambridge caters mainly to the families of current or prospective students. You can stay near the university campuses by booking your room at a student-oriented bed and breakfast or guesthouse, which offer simple, comfortable lodging for a fraction of the price charged by the big chains. If you don't mind paying more and wish to stay near the city's major cultural attractions, consider a hotel just across the Charles River from downtown Boston.
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  • While shopping along Mass Ave on a rainy day this square and T stop provided quick protection from the elements. Plenty of shopping, food and drink in the area.  more »
  • Porter Square is far enough from Boston to chill a little but close enough to experience the city at anytime of day. From the variety of restaurants to a 24 hour supermarket, the area has everything y...  more »
  • I live near Porter Square and pass through this area nearly every day. It's a nice area and I feel safe, there is occasionally someone begging but in general there is no riff-raff. Another thing which...  more »