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Cambridge ( KAYM-brij) is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and part of the Boston metropolitan area as a major suburb of Boston. As of July 2019, it was the fifth most populous city in the state, behind Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and Lowell. According to the 2010 Census, the city's population was 105,162. It is one of two de jure county seats of Middlesex County, although the county's government was abolished in 1997. Situated directly north of Boston, across the Charles River, it was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, once also an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders.
Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Lesley University, and Hult International Business School are in Cambridge, as was Radcliffe College before it merged with Harvard. Kendall Square in Cambridge has been called "the most innovative square mile on the planet" owing to the high concentration of successful startups that have emerged in the vicinity of the square since 2010.
In December 1630, the site of what would become Cambridge was chosen because it was safely upriver from Boston Harbor, making it easily defensible from attacks by enemy ships. Thomas Dudley, his daughter Anne Bradstreet, and her husband Simon Willard were the town's founders. The first houses were built in the spring of 1631. The settlement was initially referred to as "the newe towne". Official Massachusetts records show the name rendered as Newe Towne by 1632, and as Newtowne by 1638.
Located at the first convenient Charles River crossing west of Boston, Newtowne was one of a number of towns (including Boston, Dorchester, Watertown, and Weymouth) founded by the 700 original Puritan colonists of the Massachusetts Bay Colony under Governor John Winthrop.