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2015 Year in Review

Before the champagne bottles are popped and 2016 is welcomed with midnight kisses, take a minute to look back on the peaks and valleys of 2015:

1. LONGY CELEBRATES 100 YEARS

This September, Cambridge’s own Longy School of Music of Bard College celebrated a serious milestone: 100 years. To commemorate this major anniversary, Longy hosted a musical festival to celebrate in style.

Enter Septemberfest: an annual musical festival that the college hosts each September. But as anticipated, this year was bigger on all fronts. The centennial Septemberfest was full of notable performances from the Longy family, past and present. Longy’s performances included tributes to distinguished faculty, alumni and composers from the past 100 years, as well as panel discussions, receptions, and video presentations. With all of the accomplishments Longy has under their belt – most notably their El Sistema initiative that encourages city youth to perform ‘side by side’ with the conservatory students – we are excited to see where to future takes this exceptional institution. Here’s to the next 100 years of beautiful music!
 

2. ART’S ‘WAITRESS’ MAKES BROADWAY HISTORY

When you partner a Grammy-nominated artist with a theater institution, magic happens.

This summer, sparks flew as Cambridge’s very own American Repertory Theater partnered with singer, songwriter Sara Bareilles. Together they worked to recreate the 2007 film ‘The Waitress’ into a quirky musical fit for the stage. Bareilles, known for her catchy tunes ‘Love Song’ and ‘Brave’, wrote the play’s music and lyrics while the ART’s Artistic Director, Diane Paulus, stepped in as the show’s director.

The result was an uplifting performance that ‘celebrates friendship, motherhood, and the courage it takes to pluck a long abandoned dream off the shelf’ (source). Waitress opened to sold out shows in Cambridge, and this all-star team received glowing reviews. Although Waitress only played in Cambridge through September, you can catch it on Broadway in March 2016, where this new musical is already making history. With an all-female creative team behind the helm, a first for any Broadway performance ever, we will be proudly cheering on the ART’s incredible accomplishments that started right here in Harvard Square.
 

3. 90 SECONDS IN CENTRAL SQUARE

If a picture tells a thousand words, our destination video featuring the very colorful Central Square must tell two thousand!  This past summer, we were bursting with pride over our launch of our new neighborhood destination video, produced by our film guru, Hans Johnson Studios.

In just 90 seconds, you’ll explore Central Square’s unmistakable character as you speed through museums, delicious restaurants, shopping and recognizable sites. You’ll quickly see why the Massachusetts Cultural Council recognized Central Square as a Cultural District.

Experience Central Square for yourself here. Warning: dancing and trip planning will ensue following the video.

Love these videos? You’re in luck, because we’re not stopping here. Keep your eyes peeled for more videos to come in 2016.
 

4. NEWBIES & NEW LOOKS

Looking back on 2015, we are thrilled by the new restaurants and businesses that have popped up throughout Cambridge – most of which have already become fast favorites. Cambridge landmarks also got a new look in 2015: Bukowski Tavern underwent a major renovation that transformed their entire space, and Cinderella’s embraced a big rebranding that included a full liquor license.

With 19 new restaurant openings (and counting!) this year, we still can’t decide which one is our official favorite. Notables include East Cambridge’s Loyal Nine, who received local and nationwide press for their brilliant perspective on American Colonial Era cuisine. Complete with a café that offers fine coffees, teas and homemade treats, these folks are pros at sourcing the freshest ingredients possible (they even have a vegetable garden right in their backyard).

2015 brought about the all star chef collaboration between former Upstairs on the Square chef Susan Regis, and Hi-Rise Bread Company’s founder Rene Becker. The result was Shepard, a new Porter Square eatery that serves French-inspired fare in a cozy atmosphere.

Also new on the scene was Santouka, a Japanese ramen house with a simple, but incredibly satisfying menu. One sip of their legendary broth will make you feel like you’ve teleported to a cozy ramen shop in Tokyo.

Other noteworthy restaurants include: Naco Taco, a new spot to grab curious (but delicious) tacos and tortas; Parsnip, a casual dining restaurant and lounge with globally inspired cuisine (they now call the old Upstairs on the Square building home); BISq, a petite restaurant serving up small plates that are designed to share with friends, and so much more.

The city also welcomed Fairfield Inn and Suites; a new hotel nestled in East Cambridge. With smart, beautifully decorated guest rooms, and luxurious amenities, we couldn’t be more excited to add yet another wonderful hotel to our already impressive list of accommodations. Stay tuned for a few more hotels coming in 2016.
 

5. WE HATED SAYING GOODBYE TO…

Although Cambridge welcomed many new restaurants in 2015, we sadly had to say some tough goodbyes this past year.

Sandrine’s Bistro, the beloved French restaurant located in the heart of Harvard Square, closed its doors this past March after eighteen years. Then in July, the Kendall Square staple Hungry Mother surprisingly closed after seven years in business. Following Hungry Mother was one of the most shocking restaurant closures of the year. After forty years in business in Harvard Square, the popular Chinese restaurant Yenching closed unexpectedly in December.

We’re sad to say goodbye to these and more businesses that closed their doors in 2015, but we’re excited to see what the future holds. Fortunately, when one door closes, another door is always reopened: keep your eyes peeled for the new Mediterranean small-plates restaurant En Boca to fill the former Sandrine’s location. In early 2016, we’ll welcome a new concept from the Hungry Mother team in the same Kendall Square space. Although plans for the old Yenching building still remains a mystery, we are confident something exciting and delicious will call Harvard Square its home in the new year.
 

6. AREA FOUR SERVES PIZZA TO THE PRESIDENT

We always knew that customers received the royal treatment at Area Four, but now we can officially call it the ‘Presidential Treatment’.

President Barack Obama may have come to town for the dedication of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston, but he dined in Kendall Square at one our favorite pizza eateries.

Area Four hosted a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. The President was originally scheduled to stop by, answer a few questions, shake some hands and be on his way.  Instead, the Harvard grad ordered and ate the mushroom and fontina pizza with his staff snapped a few #PictureCambridge-worthy pictures and spent some quality time with Area Four’s team.

Then President Obama took a carnivore pizza to go. In case you were wondering, A4’s Carnivore Pizza is soppressata, homemade fennel sausage, and bacon perfectly baked inside a real wood-fire oven until everything is bubbling and golden brown. Yum. Nice choice Mr. President. No word on what the First Lady thought of the pizza yet, but we’re guessing even the head of the “Let’s Move” initiative could not resist taking a bite.
 

7. A NEW SKATE PARK OPENS IN EAST CAMBRIDGE

The long awaited, and greatly anticipated, Lynch Family Skate Park finally opened in East Cambridge on November 15. The 40,000 square feet and $5 million dollar project is the brain-child of some pretty major organizations: The Charles River Conservancy, The Department of Conservation, Vans, the Lynch Family and renowned sculptor Nancy Schon (who you may know best as the genius behind the Make Way for Ducklings in the Boston Common). 

This “wheel friendly” park accommodates pretty much everything from BMX riders, skateboarders, to inline skaters of all skill-levels. Lynch Park is family friendly, and includes every feature that a wheel lover would want in a skate park -- from bowl and street elements to street transitions that capture the entire experience.  Even world-class skaters would be stoked to show off their moves at this state-of-art skate park!
 

8. WE SURVIVED THE WORST WINTER EVER

Winter is here again, and nightmares memories of the Blizzard of 2015 are still fresh in our mind. Who could blame us?

During the first couple of months of 2015, Cambridge residents and visitors were dealing with snow, snow, and more snow.  From January 26 to February 22, the snow just kept falling! Businesses had to close, the MBTA couldn’t run and our Department of Works operated around the clock to clear streets, sidewalks and help with massive snow removal. 

We even made history: reaching an all-time snowfall record of 110.6 inches.

Yes, you read that right. 110.6 inches (source).

Although the hassle of dealing with so much snow dominated the beginning of 2015, we believe that our city formed a greater bond because of it. Neighbors helped each other shovel out cars and driveways, and brought groceries to those who couldn’t leave their homes. Local restaurants opened their doors during the snowstorm to help keep our spirits high and our stomachs full. Plus the memory of the 5-story ‘Alps of MIT’ will go down in New England history – it was even added to Trip Advisor’s list of official attractions in Boston and Cambridge. We’re pretty lucky to live in a city that has such a strong sense of humor and community, especially during a historic snowstorm.

Usually we take pride in setting records in Cambridge, but we’re hoping for a little less snow in 2016.


9. CELEB FACTOR

Celebrities flocked to Cambridge this year! We’re crediting our 90-second Central Square video for that (see #3!).

The Harvard Book Store hosted authors Elizabeth Gilbert, Chelsea Clinton and Stephen King (among others) who read at sold-out events.

The Harvard Lampoon named Jimmy Fallon the “Emperor of Comedy” where he famously fell and hurt his hand…again.

Our theatre scene also attracted big celebrities to our historic theaters. Notables include Jennifer Coolidge, Courtney Love and Sarah Bareilles’ acclaimed musical ‘Waitress’.

And of course, the annual Hasty Pudding Theatricals named two celebrities as the Man and Woman of the Year. Those awards went to comedians Chris Pratt and Amy Poehler respectively.
 

10. PIXAR COMES TO TOWN

Besides hosting some pretty major celebs to our city in 2015, we also welcomed some of the most beloved Pixar characters. Buzz Lightyear, Dory, Mike and Sully, and WALL•E all came to the Museum of Science for their newest exhibit, The Science Behind Pixar.

This one of a kind exhibit was actually developed by the Museum of Science in collaboration with the Pixar Animation Studios. Curious exhibit attendees received a unique behind-the-scenes peek into the Pixar process and the science and technology that goes into creating some of our favorite characters.

The Pixar exhibit boasts over forty interactive elements, many of which unveiled secrets behind the filmmaking process. It even allowed visitors the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts from the production team, combined with a little face time with the stars of the films themselves! It’s not everyday that Pixar characters and the mastermind’s behind them come to Cambridge.
 

11. AFTER 65 YEARS, CARDULLO’S GETS A NEW OWNER

Let’s face it; Harvard Square simply would not be the same without Cardullo’s. The specialty shop and deli have been a cornerstone in the square since 1950, and serves as a destination for imported grocery items – perfect for grabbing lunch or stocking up for an upcoming dinner party.

When you walk through the doors of this humble shop, you immediately feel as if you’ve been transported back to Italy – filled to the brim with assorted fruit preserves, oils, cheeses, chocolates and more. And don’t forget about their expertly handcrafted deli sandwiches, freshly sliced as you wait. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the Cardullo’s shop cat lazily snoozing in the window on bustling Brattle Street.

After 65 years, and three generations, the news broke that the Cardullo’s family was ready to sell, and our hearts were crushed. Luckily, our we were not left broken for too long – the Cardullo’s new owners planned to carry on their exceptional Cambridge legacy for years to come.
 

12. CAMBRIDGE NAMED THE BEST CITY FOR MILLENNIALS

When Forbes Magazine names your city as the “Best City for Millennials to Live” you celebrate!

Because of our easy access to transportation, close proximity to bars and restaurants, and the high level of millennials that live and work in Cambridge, we were able to nab the number one spot. That is quite an honor! Our continued green efforts, our always open Hubway system (yes, even through New England winters), and access to world-class museums and schools make Cambridge a great place to live.
 

13. WE HOST OUR FIRST INSTAMEET EVER

We have to admit, 2015 was the year we officially fell head-over-heels for Instagram. From our amazing #PictureCambridge submissions to takeovers and contests, we love being a part of this insanely creative community.

In October, we partnered with our friends at @IgersBoston and Harvard Art Museums for a World Wide InstaMeet. We wanted to meet our community beyond the app in an inspirational photography playground. Instagram’s World Wide InstaMeet was the perfect excuse to get together, and the Harvard Art Museums’ dreamily photogenic space was the perfect backdrop.

Over 30 @IgersBoston members stopped by and spent a rainy Saturday afternoon creating some really cool photos.

You can see all of the photos from that October afternoon here, including our top three favorites here, here and here. We will definitely continue our instagram love affair into 2016 with another InstaMeet, so stay tuned!
 

14. VIVALATINO FESTIVAL STARTS A NEW TRADITION

Between science festivals, jazz festivals, Mayfair, Riverfest, and Oktoberfest, we sure do love our festivals here in Cambridge. This September we added another to our list: the first-ever VivaLatino Festival. VivaLatino celebrated the Hispanic Heritage with an all day, family-friendly party.

During the last week of September, Central Square’s University Park was transformed into a buzzing hub of local food vendors, futbol games, entertainment, live music, dancing and more. The festival also hosted the biggest salsa class in New England right here in Cambridge. Now that’s something to brag about! It’s not every day that a new citywide tradition is established and we’re looking forward to more, making the VivaLatino Festival a big reason that 2015 was so special.
 

15. THE CITYWIDE DANCE PARTY HAD A LOT TO CELEBRATE THIS YEAR

To properly appreciate the pure awesomeness of this 2015 happening, we have to share a short history lesson:

In 1996 the City of Cambridge celebrated their 150th Anniversary. To celebrate this momentous occasion the city decided to throw an epic dance party for all of its residents. That very first year, the party drew a crowd of about 500 people. And just like that, the City of Cambridge Dance Party was born.

On May 17, 2004, at exactly 12:01 AM, Cambridge proudly performed the nation’s very first same-sex marriage on the steps of City Hall.

Fast-forward sixteen years after that first dance party, something fortuitous happened: on June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples nationwide had the right to marry. This happened to fall on the same day as the city’s Dance Party. Talk about perfect timing!

Over 25,000 people of all ages came out, ready to dance the night away in front of Cambridge City Hall.

In case you’ve never attended, or just want to reminisce about the fun you had this past June, check out this short video also filmed by Hans Johnson Studios (link). This year marks the biggest dance party attendance to date. We’re proud to say that our city was the very first to acknowledge same-sex marriages, and consider it an amazing coincidence that this law was finally passed on the same day of as this beloved event.

 

Share your favorite moments of 2015 with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!


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