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2016 Year in Review

Before you decide on New Year's resolutions, take a look back at some of the peaks and valleys of 2016:

1. Two New Hotels

Twenty-sixteen marked the year that Cambridge welcomed two brand new hotels to our already impressive inventory: The AC Hotel by Marriot in Alewife and the Porter Square Hotel located in Porter Square. Both hotels are unique in their own way, yet each offer the luxuries of home.

Say hello to the AC Hotel by Marriott, located only steps away from the Alewife T station, and minutes away from Downtown Cambridge. The beautiful AC boasts an innovative lobby, as well as 150 thoughtfully designed guest rooms, complete with the newest technology. If you are traveling for business, the AC Hotel by Marriott offers over 4,000 square feet of dynamic meeting space. Each room is thoughtfully decorated with a minimalistic European flair. Intrigued? To book a stay or to learn more about this hotel, click here!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new hotel in Porter Square! Located right around the corner from Harvard Square, the Porter Square Hotel is an excellent option for those who want a more intimate stay that is still close to all of the action. The Porter Square Hotel opened its doors this fall and brings a fresh and exciting new energy to Cambridge. A modern boutique hotel, the Porter Square Hotel offers 59 rooms, and 9 suites, as well as plenty of outdoor space to unwind and relax in. If you are interested in learning more or would like to book a stay at this hotel, click here!

2. Cambridge hosted our 1st ever half-marathon

It’s hard to believe, but Cambridge just hosted our FIRST-EVER half-marathon this past November. On a brisk Sunday morning, around 5,000 runners participated in the half-marathon, which raised $25,000 for the Cambridge Camping Association and $5,000 for the Belmont Watertown SPORT. We think it’s safe to say that the Cambridge loves to run. Looking forward to year two Cambridge!

3. Cambridge gets a New City Manager

Cambridge experienced some pretty major changes this year, one of the most significant being the retirement of former City Manager, Richard Rossi. A Cambridge native, Rossi dedicated 45 years of his professional life to working for the City of Cambridge -- 35 of those years spent as Deputy City Manager with Robert Healey, followed by 3 years as acting City Manager.

Rossi announced his retirement in March 2016, and although his decision to retire was a difficult one, Rich Rossi left behind a strong legacy. This includes the revitalization of Danehy Park and rebuilding public schools -- most notably, the transformation of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr School. Mr. Rossi will be also remembered as an irreplaceable mentor and a friend by those who worked closely with him.

Those are some pretty big shoes to fill if we do say so ourselves! After an exhaustive and extensive search for the next City Manager, the City of Cambridge, councilors, and the residents of Cambridge selected a familiar face. As the former Assistant City Manager for Fiscal Affairs, our new Cambridge City Manager, Louis Depasquale, officially assumed his new role in early October. We are looking forward to seeing the positive impacts Mr. Depasquale will make for Cambridge in 2017!

4. New President of the Chamber of Commerce

The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce also received a new CEO this year. Another familiar face, David Maher, made the switch from Cambridge City Councillor and former Mayor, to President and CEO of our fair Chamber. Maher brings a deep knowledge of local businesses and politics, as well as experience in development and public relations for family and child services to this new role. Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce launched a brand new website, and snazzy new logo, paving their way for an exciting and fresh 2017!

5. Cambridge Bans Plastic Bags and Styrofoam, Making Major Green Strides

It’s no secret that Cambridge embraces Going Green and we’re proud to report that Cambridge is even greener than we were this time last year.

In March 2016, Cambridge became the largest city on the East Coast to implement a citywide ban on plastic bags. That meant BYOB became Cambridge’s new norm -- we’re talking about Bringing Your Own Bag, of course. Because of this ban, Cambridge businesses big and small will be encouraging their customers to bring their own bag, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and protecting our precious marine environment. But never fear, if you forgot your plastic bags at home you may purchase a paper bag for 10 cents -- hey we’re human after all! Plus, paper bags are reusable and recyclable- which makes them Cambridge approved.

In addition to the plastic bag ordinance, Cambridge said goodbye to styrofoam in late 2016. This meant that all restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores were no longer permitted to serve food or drinks using these non-biodegradable materials, which is great news for our environment. By eliminating polystyrene, we are collectively reducing solid waste production, and avoiding harmful chemicals that these containers may leach into your coffee, or dinner leftovers.

6. New Restaurant and Breweries

Our taste buds (and our stomachs) rejoiced this year in Cambridge with the arrival of over thirty restaurants and with those restaurants, some pretty notable chefs.  With over thirty new restaurants, we couldn’t possibly pick our favorite, but if anyone is up to the challenge, it’s us. 

One of the notables includes Central Square’s Little Donkey, the Mediterranean small-plate love child of James Beard Award-winning chefs, Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonette. Little Donkey just happens to have been named the “Best New Restaurant of the Year,” by the Boston Globe. Need we say anymore?

 Another notable restaurant was Waypoint in Harvard Square, which features coastally-inspired fare by beloved and acclaimed Cambridge chef, Michael Scelfo.  2016 also brought two new restaurants to the always growing, One Kendall Square. Mamaleh’s, an authentic Jewish delicatessen splashed onto the scene with egg creams, hand-sliced pastrami sandwiches, and matzah ball soup.  The Smoke Shop by chef Andy Husbands brought us southern-style ribs so tasty that you’ll forget you’re in New England.

2016 was a year of new looks and new beginnings for four of One Kendall Square’s  restaurants.  After a fire in the ductwork at One Kendall Square forced Beantown Coffeehouse, Flat Top Johnny’s, the Blue Room and Belly Wine Bar to close their doors in 2015, 2016 proved to be the year for reopenings.

Flat Top Johnny’s returned first in April, followed by Beantowne Coffeehouse in August, and lastly the Blue Room and Belly Wine Bar in September.  We’re happy to report that they’re all back and better than ever. So go grab your coffee, play some pool, try a new varietal of wine, and enjoy some pretty amazing charcuterie in the new year.

One of our favorite openings of the year is a horse of a different color.  Meet Lamplighter Brewing Co., Cambridge’s newest microbrewery and taproom.  You’ll find the newest beer haven right where Central Square meets Kendall Square, where they’ll be brewing up funky beers that you’ve probably never tried before, but will certainly make you fall head over heels. Just in case, reading about Lamplighter made you thirsty, click here for more locally brewed beers.

Other notable openings: En Boca, Tatte Bakery & Cafe in Harvard Square, Moona, The Hourly Oyster House, The Automatic, and World of Beer.

7. We hated Saying Goodbye to...

Although Cambridge welcomed many new restaurants in 2016, we also had to say goodbye to some of our favorites.  Our list of goodbyes started in January with a sad farewell to Inman Square’s iconic southern and super spicy eatery, East Coast Grill. The only thing that kept us from crying too much was the promise that East Coast Grill would return with new owners in 2017.

Another iconic restaurant to close it’s doors in 2016, was Rialto in Harvard Square.  After two decades of decadent Italian dishes, Jody Adams announced that Rialto would be closing it’s doors and all of Cambridge let out a collective cry. Luckily, that location was not empty for long, as The Charles Hotel welcomed Benedetto, a new Italian restaurant from the team who opened Giulia’s in Porter Square.

Other notable closings: Tory Row, Fire & Ice, River Gods, West Side Lounge, Playska, and Ames St. Deli.
 
P.S. We’ve got great news! East Coast Grill is back under Highland Kitchen’s owners Mark Romano and Marci Joy, as of January 2. So far, 2017 is starting off on the right foot.

8. Oleana and Alden & Harlow are named the BEST in the world

Asking yourself ‘Where in the World to Eat’ is not only a daunting question but seemingly an impossible task to answer -- with the hundreds of thousands of eateries in the world all with different cuisines and perspectives, how does one narrow it down to the best? Although we have some bias, we always knew that Cambridge has some of the tastiest and forward-thinking restaurants around. So we were swelling with pride when Conde Nast Traveler picked not one, but two Cambridge restaurants to represent their best of the best in the world for Massachusetts.

Inman Square’s Oleana and Harvard Square’s Alden & Harlow made the list of restaurants in Massachusetts to put on of your must-try list. Simply sink your teeth into the not-so-secret-anymore burger at Alden & Harlow or savor Ana Sortun’s perfect chickpea crepes with smoked cinnamon aioli and you’ll be thanking your lucky stars you read this article.

9. Peabody Museum Celebrates 150 Years

In October, one of the first anthropological museums in the world, the Peabody Museum, celebrated their 150th anniversary. The museum celebrated in style, complete with birthday cake, free admission, and a ‘real’ mermaid.

We strongly encourage adding the Peabody Museum to your visit to Cambridge -- besides being one of the oldest anthropological museums around, the museum houses some of the most important collections of archaeological and ethnographic objects you’ll ever see. Spend an afternoon in the company of ancient Peruvian textiles, Mesoamerican artifacts and sculptures right in Harvard Square’s backyard. Afterward, visit their neighboring museum, the Harvard Museum of Natural History -- your admission includes access to both.

To learn more, check out our article: 5 Reasons to Visit the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

10. The Glass Flowers Reopened

The Harvard Museum of Natural History is perhaps one of Cambridge’s most well-known and beloved museum, and their Glass Flowers Exhibit is recognized worldwide. The life-like flowers were painstakingly made by the Blaschka father and son team in order for scientists to learn more about biology.

After opening the Glass Flowers gallery to the public on April 17, 1893, the Harvard Museum of Natural History scheduled a renovation to offer visitors a clearer view at these handcrafted scientific oddities. The six-month renovation reopened in May 2016, showcasing the glass flowers like never before.

To read why WE think this exhibition is worth a visit (or two), check out our article: 5 Reasons You Need to Visit the Reopening of the Glass Flowers.

11. The Hyatt Regency Cambridge Celebrated 40 years in Cambridge

The Hyatt Regency Cambridge has become such a staple in our community, that it’s hard to believe that the hotel recently celebrated its fortieth anniversary in September.  Since their grand opening on September 7th, 1976, the Hyatt Regency has welcomed guests for forty years from near and far to our fair city with impeccable service, warm hospitality, and views of the Boston skyline that are nothing short of stunning. The luxurious hotel celebrated the momentous occasion with special room rates and dinner and cocktail specials at the hotel’s restaurant, Zephyr on the Charles.

Claudia Wattenberg, General Manager of the Hyatt Regency Cambridge, summed up our sentiments towards the hotel when she said, “It is an honor to be celebrating 40 years of service and history in this iconic hotel – we celebrate our rich history and legacy of the past and look forward to the future as a respected and important member of our hospitality community and beautiful city of Cambridge.”

To read more about just how wonderful the Hyatt Regency Cambridge is, click here.  We’ve got all the details.

12. Biking Guides through Cambridge

Because bicycling is such a big part of life here in Cambridge (more than 7% of Cantabrigians bike to work each day) we asked our friend and avid bicyclist, Gabi of the Life and Style Blog, By Gabriella, to create biking guides for each one of Cambridge’s very eclectic squares.

In each guide, Gabi shares bike safety tips, the best places to park your bike, shops to visit, and of course, her favorite restaurants. Read Gabi’s guides for Harvard, Central and Kendall Square, and stay tuned for more in 2017!

13. Cambridge was named one of the top 50 cities for biking

Since we are on the topic of biking, we had to mention another cycling feat: in 2016, Cambridge was named the 8th Best Bike Cities in the US thanks to Bicycling.com.

Cambridge was selected to be in the top 10 of this list of ‘The 50 Best Bike Cities of 2016’ thanks to the city’s continuous quest for bike safety -- including protected bike lanes, convenient bike parking, and reducing the speed limits of busy streets. The article also sites that 44% of Cambridge bike commuters are women, which happens to be the highest percentage out of the entire list.

14. Community comes together to help victims of the Cambridge Fire and the Mayor’s Relief Fund results in extraordinary success

On December 3rd, a devastating ten-alarm fire swept through Berkshire Street in East Cambridge. Firefighters and police officers from Cambridge and neighboring communities came together to help control the flames. After hours of work, the firefighters were successful in extinguishing the quickly moving fire, and miraculously everyone escaped unharmed (including these lucky cats). But sadly the damage caused hundreds to lose their homes.

The Cambridge community rushed to help their neighbors in any way possible. When Mayor Denise Simmons established a Mayor’s Fire Relief fund, people selflessly donated. Local businesses, chefs, and musicians held fundraisers to help the victims of the Cambridge fire. And in less than a week, the Mayor’s Relief Fund goal of $500,000 was exceeded, providing a future to those who lost everything.

15. Cambridge Mourns the Death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand

It is with great sadness that we said goodbye to the world’s longest-reigning living monarch his Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand this past October.  Upon hearing the news, hundreds of people flocked to King Bhumibol Adulyadej Square (Bennett and Eliot Street) in Cambridge to pay their respects, pray, and leave yellow flowers in appreciation.

His Majesty was born at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge on December 5, 1927, while his father was studying at Harvard Medical School. The square was dedicated to the King in 1990 by Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn, youngest daughter of their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand. Now, the square reminds us of the King’s lasting legacy and serves as a link between the people of Thailand and Cambridge.

16. Cambridge Renames Columbus Day

In 2016, Cambridge became one of the first cities in the US to officially rename Columbus Day. The idea was proposed in order to reclaim the day for the thousands of Native Americans who were killed under Christopher Columbus’s leadership. Now the second Monday of October will be forever be known as Indigenous People’s Day; Columbus who?


Loved looking back at 2016?  We have a feeling you'll like our 2014 Year in Review and our 2015 Year in Review, too! 


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