Kendall Square, long hailed as the one of the world’s great technology epicenters, is transforming itself into a place city dwellers, foodies, and beer enthusiasts can enjoy.
The area had languished as a wind-swept tech corridor until this past decade, in which Kendall has seen 4 million square feet of new construction, an expansion of 40 percent, with several million more on the way. Offices and apartments are filling up and dozens of restaurants have opened in the past few years.
Most recent change: Food truck Bon Me’s brick and mortar restaurant opened.
A food truck known in Boston for serving Vietnamese sandwiches and noodles opened its first brick and mortar store in Kendall Square in mid-February.
The sandwich truck business opened in 2010 and expanded to two trucks. The truck owners officially announced that they signed a lease at One Kendall Square, joining West Bridge and Cambridge Brewing Company in August.
The menu items will include the truck’s sandwich classics, as well as restaurant-only options.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is preparing to spend $700 million to redevelop eight of its properties in Kendall Square, adding to the transformation of what is largely a commercial zone to a more pedestrian-friendly, lively neighborhood.
“MIT’s proposed new development has the potential to transform Kendall Square into a vibrant dynamic place where the activity at the ground is as cutting-edge as the science above,’’ said Cambridge’s city manager, Robert Healy.
Ten senior faculty members raised objections to the proposal, however, arguing it favored financial gain over educational and research needs.
Twitter acquired another Kendall Square-based startup Bluefin Labs on Feb. 5.
Bluefin Labs, based at One Kendall Square, measures social influence.
This acquisition comes at the heels of Twitter’s investment in Crashlytics.
Cambridge-based Crashlytics, a mobile bug-fighter, was acquired by Twitter in January.
Unlike many of its acquisitions, Twitter plans to keep the Crashlytics team independent of its San Francisco-based company.
The start-up company moved into a new 4,500-square-foot office at One Kendall Square in August.
What is Amazon up to in Kendall Square? Their research-and-development office opened at the Cambridge Innovation Center in 2012 and 80 people work there, but details on what product they’re all working on is very secretive.
If recruited, a technician can get $200,000 if skilled in programming or speech recognition, reportedly.
Current and former employees are forbidden to talk to about what goes on at the Cambridge office and the two teams there can’t even tell each other what they’re up to.
However, the tech industry rumor has settled on a mobile phone as Amazon’s secret project.
Pictured: A zoomed illustration image of a man looking at a computer monitor showing the logo of Amazon is seen in Vienna.
Cambridge Innovation Center
The largest tech workspace in Kendall Square, the Cambridge Innovation Center, announced they are expanding.
The company is increasing its workspace by 33 percent by taking on three floors two doors away from its original headquarters.
Pictured: Detail from Conduit Labs inside the Cambridge Innovation Center at Kendall Square.
Kendall Square remains a successful business district: Office space is hard to come by, rents are rising, and it boasts a roster of marquee companies, like Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc.
But for all its outward bustle, Kendall Square is in transition. And ironically, it has its own success to blame, as a kind of gentrification has made Kendall too expensive or too popular for the many, smaller, younger tech businesses that gave the area such cachet.
Cambridge officials recently circulated a survey among the Kendall community to gauge what additional steps they want taken.
InVivo Therapeautics Holdings Corp. recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new 21,000-square-foot facility.
The company develops technologies for treatment of spinal cord injuries and neurotrauma. Previously, the 32 members of the staff worked out of the Cambridge Innovation Center. It received $500,000 in 2009 as part of an accelerator progrma from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.
The folks behind Cambridge’s The Blue Room and Central Bottle have opened a new restaurant in Kendall Square.
Belly Wine Bar and Charcuterie opened in September, according to the restaurant’s Twitter account.
GnuBIO is moving to Kendall Square, leaving its smaller office space at Sidney Street.
The company was founded in 2009 and is developing next-gen desktop DNA sequencing technology.
Pictured: A microfluidic device, with fluid-filled tubes, on top of an inverted fluorescent microscope under a cyan laser at GnuBIO. It is used for DNA sequencing.
This restaurant, offering French cuisine opened this summer, is named for the former West Boston Bridge, now the Longfellow.
Pictured: Chef Matthew Gaudet prepared a roasted chicken at West Bridge, a new restaurant at One Kendall Square in Cambridge.
Biking on the rise
Biking is on the rise. Despite the rapid expansion in and around Kendall Square in the last decade — the neighborhood absorbed a 40 percent increase in commercial and institutional space, adding 4.6 million square feet of development — automobile traffic actually dropped on major streets, with vehicle counts falling as much as 14 percent, according to Cambridge’s Parking and Transportation.
Several businesses are offering financial incentive to leave cars behind and use bikes to commute to work.
Kendall’s industrial history is etched in its place names, starting with the square itself, which takes its name from factory owner Edward Kendall, who was a boiler maker – the steam generator, not the drink; a teetotaler, Kendall had the wealth to finance his failed runs for Congress and governor on the Prohibition ticket.
But only a few vestiges remain, like Broad Canal, the stub of a 200-year-old waterway that once saw barges carrying factory goods and is now, on warm days, dotted by canoes and kayaks.
Google Inc. will relocate subsidiary ITA Software of Cambridge to its Kendall Square offices, after finalizing a deal to create an “urban campus’’ with more than 800 employees, making it the search giant’s fourth-largest US location.
ITA’s 500 staffers, who now work half a mile away, will join more than 300 Google employees in a three-building Kendall Square complex connected by new glass passageways and built to accommodate further growth. Google bought ITA, a travel software company, in 2010 for $700 million.
The owners of Tapeo on Newbury Street and Solea in Waltham opened their latest modern Spanish tapas bar in the Cambridge neighborhood.
The restaurant opened its doors in December and serves lunch Monday-Friday and dinner seven days a week.
Pictured: The dining area at Kika Tapas.
This popular restaurant, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in Davis Square this year, opened the Kendall Square Rib Shack at 300 Athenaeum St. last summer.
The Rib Shack will serve up ribs, barbecue sandwiches, sides and beverages and will be open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
From salt marsh to innovation hub
The area started out as a salt marsh between Boston and Cambridge. It was developed into a transportation hub after the West Boston Bridge was built in 1793, which connected the two cities.
Then in the 19th century, the area turned industrial, with power plants, factories, distilleries, and soap makers, like the Lever Brothers. In 1911, the Kendall subway station opened and in 1915, MIT moved into the area.
This company literally makes the Internet work and is located in Kendall Square.
Each day, as much as 30 percent of the world’s Web traffic passes through Akamai servers.
Entrepreneurs hall of fame
Recently, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook and former Harvard student, stated that if he started his company today, he would have stayed in Boston.
If Kendall Square is the hub of innovation and technology, it would only make sense that they have a hall of fame for entrepreneurs.
Pictured: A passersby took photos with her cellphone of the Steve Jobs plaque at Walk of Fame in Kendall Square, which celebrates technology and the entrepreneurial spirit.
The burrito restaurant quietly opened a location in Kendall Square in the summer of 2012.
Pictured: Taco’s are served up at the Lets Talk About Food Festival in Cambridge at the Chipotle Booth.
The upscale barbecue restaurant has started offering a unique lunch option. The restaurant started Backdoor BBQ on Thursdays and Fridays, selling a takeout specialty until they run out.
Pictured: Bartender Graziele Maiden served drinks at Hungry Mother in Cambridge.
Kendall Square welcomed a craft beer bar, with 110 high-quality craft brews on tap in 2011.
Read Steve Greenlee’s 99 Bottles blog about the opening.
If the ongoing story of the American economy is the tough transformation from industry to ideas, the prelude was written here in Kendall. In 1959, Lever Brothers shuttered a plant that churned out Lux and Lifebuoy soaps.
MIT and a developer razed that property and others – clearing 15 acres of former factories and tenement homes – to build Technology Square. A few years later, Cambridge used its powers of eminent domain to begin evicting another 100 or so industrial businesses to make room for a nearly 30-acre NASA research campus.
NASA’s plans fall through
In the ’60s, NASA announced plans to move to Kendall Square. A booster in a 1966 Globe article back then said Kendall, as a result, will house the “greatest concentration of scientific brains anywhere, free world or Communist.’’
However, amid nearly a decade of post-NASA squabbling over what to do with the undeveloped Kendall land, frustrated residents called for the return of blue-collar factories over public-housing towers.
Pictured: One of NASA’s proposed building plans that was never constructed.
The development that finally took place in Kendall a decade later created the equivalent of suburban office parks in the city, islands that lured science and computer companies but did little to shape a livable neighborhood.
But recent efforts are trying to change that.
Pictured: A parking lot in 1998 that would eventually turn into a $400 million research and hotel complex.
Cambridge City Council voted to approve a controversial plan for Google Inc. to increase its Kendall Square office in an expansion that would halve a public rooftop garden.
Residents protested the plan when it was originally presented because the rooftop parking garage garden is protected by an open-space covenant.
A revised plan offered to more parking space and a new green space.
Pictured: A rendering of the planned expansion.
At Area Four, you’ll find something new: wine — on tap.
The bar not only serves lunch and dinner, it’s a bakery and coffeehouse.
Chef and owner of Area Four restaurant Michael Leviton ispictured preparing a Chatham “Tenacious” cod with semolina crust at the restaurant.
This is the newest restaurant to join the ranks of these hot spots. Named after the owner’s daughter, it’s an “American-style neighborhood dining spot” that has an extensive craft beer and cocktail list, according to Boston Restaurant Talk.
The locavore spot standing for “extra virgin olive oil’’ moved from Somerville to Cambridge in 2010. The Third Street location dishes are exuberant and eclectic.
Chef Peter McCarthy put the finishing touches to Maine crabmeat and roasted garlic flan with cremini mushroom ragout, mache and white truffle oil, at Evoo restaurant.
Kendall Square is the region’s high-tech hub, a magnet for innovators and start-ups.
Yet for all their know-how, engineers, scientists, and others here are routinely stumped making the simplest technology connection: a cellphone call.Many who work in Kendall say reception is so weak in some places, spotty in others, that dropped signals, failed calls, and stalled e-mails are frequent problems.
Pictured: Denise Seefeldt from Cambridge checked a message on her smartphone near the Kendall T station.
An upscale sushi place recently opened at 300-Third Street in Kendall Square.
Fuji is part of a local chain that started in Quincy in 1998.
Some delicious mobile culinary options can be found daily near the Kendall Square MBTA stop on Carleton Street, on the east side of an MIT medical building.
Pictured: Crew inside Momogoose food truck in Kendall Square serve Asian fare.
Charles River Canoe & Kayak
Visitors can get a close look at the Charles River by renting a kayak at this small marina in the Broad Canal just behind Enedeca’s Kendall Square building.
The 300 Technology Square restaurant has opened.
Taking advantage of the area, it is a chef-owned restaurant catering to corporate culture.
This neighborhood has become Boston’s beer capital, according to the 99 bottles blog.
Pictured: Brewer Ben Howe poured samples of Enlightenment Ale, a golden Belgain ale at Cambridge Brewing Company in Kendall Square.
After moving into the Kendall Square neighborhood in 2009, this popular breakfast place is already a local institution. The original branch is in Portsmouth, N.H.
Visitors can try the eccentric menu items in a restaurant set like a retro dinette filled with mannequins and rubber cow heads.
The Kendall Square burger, served with roasted red pepper puree, onion rings, roasted garlic mayo, and baby arugula is a menu option at Veggie Planet in Central Square.
This venue is a restaurant, live art hybrid. Tables are made from old truck hoods. Video installations show random movies. Its owners sought to bring art and technology into a culinary environment.
Pictured: The wall in the background draws a new image from Google Maps Street View every couple of minutes.
The bakery opened this spring and offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee all day.
Tatte’s original cafe can be found in Brookline, owned by Israel-born pastry chef Tzurit Or.
Pictured: The baked goods at the Cambridge counter.
The pool hall at One Kendall Square has an alternative rock atmosphere. Artwork from local painters hang on the brick walls and the tables are covered with crimson instead of green.
A parking garage is located directly next to the theatre (enter from Binney St.). You can get pay a reduced rate with a validated ticket stub. There is limited metered parking available on nearby streets, but watch carefully for residential parking permit areas.
This specialty coffee shop attracts many movers and shakers in the innovation economy.
It’s one of a number of recent cafes that have opened up catering to sophisticated sippers, focusing on the coffee farmer, roaster, and barista.
The restaurant opened in 2010 and featured food, drink, music, dancing, literature readings, and trivia nights.
In 2012, the restaurant closed.
Kendall Square offers stations to charge electric cars.
Pictured: Chevy Volt owner Craig Driscoll charged his electric car at a free charging station in the parking garage of One Broadway in Kendall Square before heading to work.
Microsoft Corp. recently expanded its office space in Kendall Square.Here, the software company has consolidated its research-and-development operations. The space is called the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center, or NERD.
Google’s expansion plans call for this second glass connector between Three and Five Cambridge Center, where the company’s 350 Kendall square employees now work.
This is the future home to 75 and 125 Binney St. The two buildings will be part of the state-of-the-art Alexandria Center at Kendall Square, a $500 million, 11-acre, build-to-suit science and technology campus located in the heart of Cambridge.
The development includes five office buildings, among them 225 Binney St., which will house Biogen Idec when the biotechnology company returns its executive offices to Cambridge in 2013.
Cambridge Center office park
This is the Cambridge Center office park area, where Biogen has its Cambridge offices.
Kendall Square in Cambridge is the worldwide nexus for life sciences, typified in the Boston area by industry powerhouses Genzyme and Biogen.
The John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center is a center of transportation and logistics expertise, operating under the United States Department of Transportation.
The Volpe Center is named after Massachusetts Governor and US Secretary of Transportation John Volpe (pictured.)
On October 9, 1876 in Kendall Square, Thomas A. Watson telephoned Alexander Graham Bell 2 miles away in Boston, thereby placing the first long-distance call in history.
The ancient building Watson called from has been refurbished by MIT and adjoined to a vast new biotech center.
Pictured: Alexander Graham Bell speaking into the Centennial telephone.
Kendall Square is where a humble optics company transformed into one of the most successful businesses in Massachusetts and a household name around the world. But then technology shifted, and Polaroid, caught flat-footed, tumbled into bankruptcy.
Pictured: In 1944, Edwin Land, the founder of the Polaroid Corporation, was asked by his three-year-old daughter why she could not see the picture he had just taken of her. Her request translated into the Polaroid Land Camera, the first instant camera offered for sale in November of 1948