The quadrant of Cambridge from the Common to Avon and Observatory hills represents a distinctive and coherent section of the city. The original common consisted of thousands of acres and stretched west into modern Arlington. While most of the common was slowly granted for farmsteads or house lots, the remaining section of Cambridge Common was first converted to a landscaped park in 1830. Along one side of the Common, Radcliffe College began the development of its campus in 1885; later, a second residential campus for Radcliffe was created farther out Garden Street near Linnaean Street. Northwest from the Common lies the section of the original Cow Common that extends to Linnaean Street, where residential development proceeded from the 1830s through the turn of the century.
Beyond Linnaean Street rises the residential neighborhood of Avon Hill, an area sparsely populated in the colonial period. Real development began here only in 1869 but proceeded rapidly thereafter. Large mansard-roofed Shingle Style and Colonial Revival houses vie for pride of place in often generous lots, Washington Avenue providing a central focus to the district.
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