Cambridge, June 2014

kendall square

galaxy: earth sphere  by joe davis, in kendall square  (sonya kovacic)

galaxy: earth sphere by joe davis, in kendall square (sonya kovacic)

In the 1960s, Cambridge's Kendall Square played a major role in the country's space program. Even though the city lost its bid for NASA's Mission Control Center in 1961, Cambridge became the headquarters for the agency's Electronics Research Center (ERC) two years later. In its six years, the ERC was involved in microwave and laser communications,  holography, and building computers for outer space.

The ERC was a controversial project from the start. By 1969, the center had constructed six buildings in Kendall Square and employed 850 people. This was after the demolition of dozens of businesses in the old industrial neighborhood, as well as millions of dollars worth of construction and land acquisition costs for the federal government. Despite protests from NASA officials, President Nixon ordered the center closed in 1970 during a round of budget cuts.

That same year, the Department of Transportation took over NASA's main building. Nearly 75% of the ERC's staff transferred to the new Transportation Systems Center (since renamed the Volpe Center), which is still active today.

Since the 1970s, Kendall Square has become Boston's technology hub. In addition to businesses like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon, the neighborhood is also home to more startups per square mile than anywhere else in the world. It's also where you can visit the (now dormant) Entrepreneur Walk Of Fame, where sidewalk stars honor Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, and more.