A Gazetteer for the United States and Canada

Cambridge, Massachusetts
(Middlesex County)

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Census Data for Cambridge ...

Population ...

The most recent Census Estimate<1> was for 2019 and it gave Cambridge a population of 118,988 people.

The last Decennial Census<2> was in 2010, which gave Cambridge a population of 105,162 people.

The city of Cambridge is located in Middlesex County. The 2010 Census gave Middlesex County; a population of 1,503,085 people. This means that Cambridge had 7% of the county's total population, making it Middlesex's 2nd most populous community.

At the same time, Massachusetts had a population of 6,547,629 people, meaning that Cambridge had 1.61% of the total population of Massachusetts - making it the state's 5th most populous community.

Area ...

The 2010 Census shows that the sampling area for Cambridge has a total area of 7.11 square miles [18.4 km²]. Of this total, 6.38 square miles [16.5 km²] is land, with the balance (10.15%) being water (0.72 square miles [1.9 km²]).

Middlesex County has a land area of 817 square miles [2,118.1 km²]. At 6.38 square miles [16.5 km²], Cambridge has 0.78% of the county's total land area.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • When the Census Bureau conducts a census for a city like Cambridge, they draw a boundary around the area in which they are going to conduct their count - this defines the sampling area (usually a polygon). The shape of the sampling area can be quite complex and it's important to keep in mind that the boundaries of the sampling area may or may not match the recognized boundaries of the city.
    • Things like population, area and housing for Cambridge reflect the sampling area. Since the shape of the sampling area and the actual boundaries of Cambridge might be different, it's best to check with the U.S. Census Bureau to resolve any difference between the two.
    • Not only does the sampling area define boundaries, it also has a GPS location (latitude & longitude) that indicates a point within the sampling area (usually the center of the polygon, known as the centroid). At the time of the 2010 Census, the sampling area was located at:
    • Lat:   42° 22' 33"   (or 42.38°)
    • Lon:   -71° 7' 5"   (or -71.12°)
    • More information on this topic and the changes between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census can be found in the section for our Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Housing Units ...

At the time of the 2010 Census, Cambridge had 47,291 Housing Units<3> and with its population of 105,162 people, this averages 2.22 people per Housing Unit.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • The 2010 Census shows Cambridge had a land area of 6.38 square miles [16.5 km²]. This translates to 6,655 Housing Units per square mile [2,569 housing units/km²].
    • From the Census of 2000: Cambridge had 44,725 Housing Units, a population of 101,355 people and a land area of 6.43 square miles [16.7 km²]. This gives a density of 2.27 people per Housing Unit and 6,274 Housing Units per square mile [2,422 housing units/km²].
    • Note: Repeating the caution above (under Population Density), be aware that when comparing Housing Units between the 2010 Census and the 2000 Census, there were changes in the sampling area for Cambridge and you need to be careful when comparing numbers between the censuses. More information about the nature of these the changes can be found in the section called Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Middlesex County ...

Cambridge is located in Middlesex County<4> and is the County Seat for Middlesex County.

The county had a population of 1,503,085 people at the 2010 Census. With it's population of 105,162 people, Cambridge represented 7% of the county's total.

In addition, where the city of Cambridge has a population density of 14,799 people per square mile [5,713 people/km²], Middlesex County averages 1,837 people per square mile [709 people/km²].

For more information, please visit our Census Page for Middlesex County.

Census-to-Census Observations ...

Introduction ...

When the Census Bureau takes a census count (or enumeration) for Cambridge, they start by specifying the boundaries of the area to be counted. This area (or sampling area) is a polygon and its shape can be quite complex - it may or may not match the geographical boundaries of Cambridge. It's important to note that from one Census to the next, the shape and location of the polygon can change.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • Although we don't have specific information about the shape of the polygon for Cambridge or how it changed has over time, there is some information that can give us some hints. For example, since the shape of the sampling area is directly related to the shape of the polygon, any change to area probably indicates a new shape for the polygon.
    • If you need precision or details about the methodology of the Census, you should visit the U.S. Census Bureau for a definitive answer.

Location ...

While generally coinciding with the GPS location (latitude/longitude) of Cambridge, the latitude and longitude given by the Census Bureau actually indicates the GPS location of the polygon for Cambridge.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • For the 2010 Census, the location was given as:
    • Lat:   42.375967°   (or 42°22'33" N)
    • Lon:   -71.118275°   (or -71°7'5" W)
    • For the 2000 Census, the location given was:
    • Lat:   42.373746°   (or 42°22'25" N)
    • Lon:   -71.110554°   (or -71°6'37" W)
    • The difference indicates that the U.S. Census Bureau moved the location of the polygon for the 2010 Census 2,231 feet to the west<5> of the location that was used in the 2000 Census.
    • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) have assigned a unique GNIS identifier (#619396) to Cambridge. This identifier also marks a GPS point on the map, and that point lies within the boundaries of Cambridge. The GNIS point has been mapped to the latitude/longitude:
    • Lat:   42.370930°   (or 42°22'15" N)
    • Lon:   -71.116164°   (or -71°6'58" W)
    • The GPS location given for the 2010 Census lies 1,922 feet to the north<6> of the point given by the GNIS for Cambridge. For more information about this and the relationship of the various Federal Codes, please visit our Misc Page for Cambridge.

Miscellaneous Information for Cambridge ...

The Federal government has assigned various identifying codes to each community, county and state. At one time or another, the US Census Bureau has used one (or more) of the following identifiers when referring to either Middlesex County or the city of Cambridge:

  • The GNIS Codes ...
    • The current system of identification is called the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). The following GNIS codes relate to Cambridge:
    • GNIS ID for Cambridge: 619396
    • GNIS ID for Middlesex County: 606935
    • GNIS ID for State of Massachusetts: 606926
  • Misc. Census Codes ...
    • Cambridge is located in Census Region #1 (the Northeast Region) and Division #1 (the New England Division).
  • The US Postal Service ZIP Code ...
    • While some people have used ZIP codes to identify a community, the ZIP codes were actually created to make mail delivery more efficient by grouping addresses together. Although a ZIP Code doesn't specifically identify a city like Cambridge, they do identify addresses that are in (or near) the city. It's important to remember that the boundaries of the ZIP Code can be changed, re-assigned, eliminated or overlapped with other ZIP Codes.
    • Our list of ZIP codes for Cambridge:<7>
    • 02138, 2139, 2140, 2141, 02238 & 02239.
  • Census ZCTA Codes ...
    • The US Census Bureau created statistical entities that they call ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTAs) and these ZCTAs are frequently confused with the ZIP codes that come from the US Postal Service (USPS).
    • ZCTAs were first created for the 2000 Census and at that time, they were based upon the USPS ZIP codes. While largely covering the same areas, the boundaries of a ZCTA do not necessarily match the boundaries of a postal ZIP code with the same number. For example, while a postal ZIP code can cross a county or state line, a Census ZCTA can not. They should be treated as separate entities with no correlation between them.

For more information about the various Federal identification codes, please visit our Misc Page for Cambridge.

Other Roadside Stops ...

Index of Cities, Towns and Villages for Massachusetts

About Middlesex County

About Massachusetts

Off-the-Road Links ...

The official website for Cambridge:

The official website for State of Massachusetts:

The official website of the U.S. Census Bureau

The official website of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN)

The official website of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Footnotes ...

<1>Every year, the US Census Bureau creates a population estimate for the preceeding year. Keep in mind that this value is an estimate and not an actual count. The most recent Census estimate is for the year 2019.
<2>Every 10 years (eg- 1990, 2000, 2010), the US Census Bureau conducts a Constitutionally-mandated count (or enumeration) of people living within the United States. This count is called a Decennial Census. The last Decennial Census was the 2010 Census, with the next one planned for 2020.
<3>A Housing Unit is a broad term for those places where people live (whether occupied or temporarily vacant), such as a house, an apartment, a mobile home, or an area that is considered as a separate living quarter. Separate living quarters (consisting of one or more rooms) are considered to be those places where people live, sleep and eat separately from others and that have access to the outside (either directly or by a shared hallway).
<4>If you're interested in how the shape of Massachusetts' counties, including Middlesex, have changed over time, we recommend the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries.
<5>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the 2010 Census location is 68 degrees and a distance of 2,231 feet.
<6>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the GNIS point is 17 degrees and a distance of 1,922 feet.
<7>When looking for a ZIP Code, whether Cambridge or elsewhere, it's always best to check the website of the United States Postal Service (USPS).






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This page was last modified: 18 Apr 2022