Memorial Drive (Cambridge)

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Memorial Drive
US 3.svgMA Route 2.svgMA Route 3.svg
Charles River Road
Maintained by Massachusetts DCR
Length 3.9 mi[1][2][3] (6.3 km)
Coordinates 42°21′47″N 71°06′58″W / 42.36306°N 71.11611°W / 42.36306; -71.11611Coordinates: 42°21′47″N 71°06′58″W / 42.36306°N 71.11611°W / 42.36306; -71.11611
West end US 3 / Route 2 in Cambridge
Route 2A in Cambridge
East end Route 3 in Cambridge
Memorial Drive along the Charles River at the Longfellow Bridge facing Boston's John Hancock Tower

Memorial Drive runs along the north bank of the Charles River in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is designated as U.S. Route 3 or Massachusetts Route 3 for its entire length, and Massachusetts Route 2 over the portion west of the Boston University Bridge.


Formerly known as Charles River Road, the road was officially renamed "Memorial Drive" in 1923,[4] when Charles River Park was taken over by the Metropolitan District Commission. It is named in honor of those who died in World War I.[5]

Route description[edit]

Memorial Drive begins in West Cambridge at a three-way junction (a former rotary) with Greenough Boulevard (which continues roughly westward along the river and provides access to the Eliot Bridge) and the Fresh Pond Parkway, which runs roughly north. It proceeds generally southward, following the sinuous curves of the river, from which it is separated by a strip of parkland that varies considerably in its width. In the western stretch it has four undivided lanes, two in each direction (although parking is permitted on the outer westbound lane for a short section west of JFK Street). After crossing River Street it turns more eastward at the Magazine Street beach, with Massachusetts Route 2 diverging southward at a rotary-like interchange with overpass to cross the BU Bridge. Soon afterward the road is lined on the north by the buildings of the main Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus. A grassy median is introduced along this stretch, and the road crosses under Massachusetts Avenue, with ramps providing limited interchange options. The grassy median continues to divide the road until its end near Kendall Square at the Longfellow Bridge, where it continues as Edwin H. Land Boulevard. The median, where present, has occasional opportunities for reversing direction.

Memorial Drive, like the parkways along the opposite (Boston) side of the river, is maintained by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (the successor to the Metropolitan District Commission). In keeping with the recreational mission, the section of Memorial Drive from Western Avenue to the split by Mount Auburn Hospital, at Gerry's Landing Road, is closed to motor vehicles on Sundays in the summer to allow for pedestrian and non-motorized users. The closure is in effect from 11 am to 7 pm starting the last Sunday of April until the second Sunday of November.[6]

A median near Massachusetts Avenue requires executing a so-called Michigan left for certain turns.

In 2003 a two-mile section of Memorial Drive was reconstructed as part of the DCR's Historic Parkways Initiative.[citation needed]

Major intersections[edit]

The entire route is in Cambridge, Middlesex County.

Location mi[3] km Destinations Notes
West Cambridge 0.0 0.0 US 3 north / Route 2 west / Greenough Boulevard / Fresh Pond Parkway Western terminus; western terminus of concurrency with US 3 / Route 2
Riverside 0.7 1.1 John F. Kennedy Street – Harvard Square
1.4 2.3 I-90.svg Western Avenue to I-90 (Mass PIke) To Western Avenue Bridge
Cambridgeport 2.2 3.5 Route 2 east – Cambridgeport, Central Square Interchange; eastern terminus of concurrency with Route 2; to BU Bridge
MIT 3.2 5.1 Route 2A (Massachusetts Avenue) – Boston
US 3 north / Route 3 south
Interchange with Michigan lefts; to Harvard Bridge
US 3 becomes Route 3
3.7 6.0 Wadsworth Street – Kendall Square
3.8 6.1 Edwin H. Land Boulevard east – Kendall Square Interchange
3.9 6.3 Route 3 south (Longfellow Bridge) – Boston Eastern terminus; eastern terminus of concurrency with Route 3
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michael Trust (2010-08-30). "Executive Office of Transportation - Office of Transportation Planning Roads - June 2008". Retrieved 2011-08-31. 
  2. ^ Distance corrected per Google Earth, 2013-05-12, to exclude Gerry's Landing Road leg (connection to Fresh Pond Parkway) erroneously included in 2008 Trust report distance measurement.
  3. ^ a b Google (November 24, 2014). "Memorial Drive" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved November 24, 2014. 
  4. ^ 1923 per bottom left of page 2 of the Cambridge Chronicle [1] (dedication June 10, 1923:[2]) The Cambridge Historical Commission gives 1922 as year of renaming.
  5. ^ Cambridge Street Names, compiled by the Cambridge Historical Commission, updated June 30, 2009
  6. ^ "Memorial Drive Closed Sundays". Retrieved 2011-08-31.