Kendall Square’s history is one of evolution and innovation. While this idea is widely acknowledged, the depth of history in the Kendall Square neighborhood may surprise even the longest-tenured resident or organization that calls the 02142 zip code home.
I recently had the pleasure of discovering some surprising historical gems myself on a tour of the Kendall Square area. Guided by Daniel Berger-Jones, founder of Cambridge Historical Tours, the Kendall Square Association Marketing and Events Committee was given a new perspective on the neighborhood to which we all consider ourselves insiders and experts.
A few Kendall Square History lessons I learned on our tour:
While I knew that the Kendall Hotel was formerly a fire station, I didn’t know that the first woven fire hoses in history were made in Kendall Square. In fact, for a period of time, this neighborhood supplied nearly 90% of all fire hoses in the world!
Of course, with Kendall Press’ heritage in traditional print and communications, I couldn’t resist the story of the origin of 292 Main Street – built in 1920 for the Suffolk Engraving and Electrotype and now home to the MIT Press Bookstore.
And Thomas Edison, widely believed to be the most prolific inventor in history, is honored as an inductee at the Kendall Square Entrepreneurial Walk of Fame. However, the second most prolific inventor is still working to this day right in Kendall Square at the Koch Institute. Take Daniel’s tour to find out who!
What stood out above all else during our own experience with the INNOVATIONS tour of Kendall Square was how our walkabout managed to showcase what I consider a crucial positive force in driving Kendall Square’s influence and growth: The Bump & Connect Factor. For those not familiar with the term, The Bump & Connect Factor is the serendipitous intersection with people and events that occurs while walking through the densest population of startups and scientific endeavors in the world.
Daniel’s tour provided numerous examples of how important it is to be surrounded by our talented, accessible neighbors. For example, as we strode past the Broad Institute, we were able to see fabulous local event photographer David Fox setting up for a major shoot and announcement from the Broad, which just hours before we started our tour announced a $650 Million donation to The Stanley Center, galvanizing mental illness research. Not only was I able to poke my head in the door and say hello to David, I was also able to pick up a press kit with all the details on the donation for later reading.
This happened to be Wade’s first day back on assignment for Xconomy in Massachusetts. What are the odds of passing him on a street corner during our tour? In Kendall Square, the odds are higher than you might think.
Wrapping up the tour, we passed Chris Barr of Biogen Idec and Aimee Sprung of Microsoft’s NERD Center – and Daniel Berger-Jones picked up a hitchhiker who refused to leave. As the rest of us have discovered in our time here, it’s obvious when you’ve found the right place to build a nest.
Keith, for the team at Kendall Press