Category Archives: Cambridge Businesses

Throwback Thursday: Crestmobile, the Cambridge Automobile

From the Cambridge Vertical File (051), Businesses, Crest Manufacturing Company.

Between 1901 and 1904 the Crest Manufacturing Company built cars.  The company was located at 424 Massachusetts Avenue and later at 190 Broadway.


The Romance in Meat

ImageAs both current workers in this archives are vegetarians, it is a little odd to be writing a post about “The Romance in Meat” but that is the subtitle of this nifty little 1950s history of John P. Squire and Company, a slaughterhouse and meatpacker of Boston pork and ham from 1850 to the 1950s. Until its demise it had the distinction of being the oldest meatpacker in America.

Though lovers of Mad Men might consider the 1960s the pinnacle of American advertising, “Romance in Meat” is no slacker. The cardboard cover is made to look like wood and the whole little book is full of delightful little illustrations.


The travels and travails of the pigs from their pens to the buyer’s market is lovingly described, perhaps to break the stereotype of the Chicago slaughterhouse vis-a-vis Upton Sinclair.

On arrival at the Squire packing plant the hogs are unloaded from the cars and conducted to the company’s porker hotel – which “accommodates” 12,000. Here they rest from their journey for from 24 to 48 hours, in peaceful and quiet surroundings. They are carefully tended, fed and watered.

The book also explains some of the other uses of hogs other than eating the meat…

Hair goes into the manufacture of brushes and mattresses; some hides into leather;bones to fertilizer; glands for medicinal uses, and so on through innumerable fields.


Unfortunately John P. Squire and Company is no longer in business and even their abandoned factories burned down in 1963. A company that used to spread out over 20 acres in Cambridge. But just in case this post has gotten you hungy…feast your eyes on the fresh pork goodies Squire once served.


If you are interested in learning more about John P. Squire and Company take a look at a summary of their history at or come to the Cambridge History Room and check out such books as The Cambridge of Eighteen Hundred and Ninety Six.


Boston Woven Hose and Rubber Company is one of the industrial giants of 19th Century Cambridge.   Boston Woven Hose was founded in Cambridge in 1880, and over the thirty years prior to the beginning of WWI, demand for its products grew and the company expanded first to an 18,000 square foot factory on Hampshire Street and then to a 250,000 square foot factory on Broadway – both buildings typical of 19th Century mills.   In 1957, after several years of decreased efficiency and standards in the manufacturing process, the American Biltrite Rubber Company took over, and the Boston Woven Hose and Rubber Company was established.

The company produced a cotton-jacketed rubber hose, and it soon became the industry standard for manufacturing fire hoses.  The Boston Bulldog was created as a trademark to identify this high quality brand of hose.

A few more readings about industry history in Cambridge:

The Cambridge Historical Society’s Industry in Cambridge

**Generously researched and written by E. Bento.**

Reversible Collar Company

The paper collar industry started during the Civil War when the South’s control of cotton cut off the supply of cloth collars, according to a 1956 Crimson article. People wore the paper collar a few times, and threw it away.  The Reversible Collar Company was invented by Harvard alumnus in 1866, and the business hit its peak between 1870 and 1914.  During the time, the production was about 3,000,000 items monthly.   Many people preferred the substitute and continued to wear them after the Civil War

The Reversible Collar Company Building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The fact that the last surviving Paper Collar Company was located in 111 Putnam Avenue, Cambridge makes the city more unique.

**Generously researched and written by E. Bento.**

A Ford Manufacturing Plant in Cambridge

The Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant built in 1913 on Memorial Drive by the BU Bridge.

Did you know that Ford produced its famous Model Ts in a factory that still stands in Cambridgeport near the BU Bridge?  Between 1914 and 1926, the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant prospered, hiring both native Cantabrigians and newly arrived immigrants who had made the Cambridge area their home.

The Cambridge plant was the first in a decentralization effort on behalf of the company to move production out of Detroit.  Originally located in Boston, Ford’s Northeast branch moved its headquarters to Cambridge in 1914 after the new plant was built on Memorial Drive.  The river front property was perfectly suited to Henry Ford’s wishes that all his factories have access to water routes.  In 1926, the operations were moved to Somerville.

The former Ford Assembly Plant now belongs to MIT and until recently was used for manufacturing by Polaroid, whose headquarters were just down the street on Memorial Drive.