Cambridge, NY is a place that, I feel confident, will see me again. I had a delightful (if short) time there, chatting with folks and exploring. It’s going to take me some time to gather up my notes and share the content of the conversations, so today I’ll simply talk about the trip.
It’s hard to imagine that I’ll find any other two Cambridges that are as easy to travel between as those in MA and NY. Once I pulled onto the Massachusetts Turnpike (I90, about two miles from home), I went west until I had crossed the border into New York. I took exit B3 for NY Route 22 and traveled past NY towns with names reflecting the upstate area’s tradition of mixing the classical (such as Troy), international (Lebanon), Biblical (Canaan), Dutch (Rensselaer), Native American (Hoosic), and English (Greenwich). Another hour later, I reached the Motel Cambridge, right on Route 22 and where I would spend the night. The local address is 51 South Park Street and, given that the address of my childhood home was also 51 Park, there was no doubt but that I’d be staying there. (Also, it’s pretty much the only game in town.)
Cambridge, NY doesn’t sprawl far beyond the intersection of Park Street and Main Street, where you’ll find the village’s only stoplight. A few streets radiate out from Park or Main but, really, not too many. That made it super easy to get around and meet up with everyone I had arranged to see. Once outside the compact center of the village, most of the roads I followed took me past a farm, such as this one: Common Sense Farm.
The Cambridge Valley Chamber of Commerce describes the location of the village this way. “Cambridge is located in southern Washington County, eastern upstate New York. We are northeast of Albany, east of Saratoga Springs and southwest of Manchester, Vermont….Driving Times: Albany-55 minutes; Manchester, VT-45 minutes; Greenwich-10 minutes; Saratoga Springs-25 minutes; Bennington, VT-20 minutes; Williamstown, MA-45 minutes.” In other words, it’s neither completely isolated, nor is it part of a teeming metropolis.
Cambridge has a long history, with Native American settlements and a significant role in the Revolutionary War. And that long history is what, I think, has led to a very complicated government structure. There’s the village, which was the focus of my visit, but there’s also a Town of Cambridge. Most public services are provided by the village, which is probably a good thing, as the village is split among three towns — Cambridge, White Creek, and Jackson. All of the towns are in Washington County, which stretches up the eastern edge of New York State.
(My home town on Long Island, NY is also a village that, along with several other villages, is rolled into a town, so the governance structure wasn’t totally foreign to me, but no one in Cambridge told me it was better to be part of three towns, much as they might be used to it.)
Before my trip, I looked at the restaurant options in town and discovered that nearly all are closed on Monday, and many on Tuesday, too. Folks seemed more amused than irritated when I commented on how eating out must be confined to Wednesday to Sunday. With a lunch picked up at the local co-op, dinner at one of the open restaurants, and breakfast supplies from the supermarket, I easily got by.
After all the conversations on Monday and Tuesday morning, I followed a suggestion I received several times and zipped out to the local monastery (!), located on a hill that truly brings out the loveliness of the surrounding area. From there, back to the stoplight, a left turn onto Rt. 22, and the drive back home. My next posts will reflect my Cambridge, NY conversations.
15 thoughts on “Take exit B3 and you’re there”
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Thanks for your post. Loved it. I love Cambridge. Great place great people.
Thank you, Mary! Cambridge, NY is a lovely place and I look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks.
Born and raised in cambridge. Left and returned 20 years later. Our class of 1966 was very unique and we still get together and have fun
Thanks for your perspective, Susan! That’s a story I heard a few times — folks might leave Cambridge for a while, but many return to the area eventually.
Hi Jess, I visited Stephen Alcorn’s artist studio. He is VERY talented
The Alcorn Studio & Gallery
112 West Main Street
Cambridge, New York 12816
Tel: (518) 677-5798
Fax: (518) 677-2526
I own an Alcorn now.
Naturally! Further proof that you know everybody everywhere! I think I could have shaped my visit around the arts. Maybe next time!
Loved your story!! My visits back to Cambridge have always been special. Thank you. I look forward to your next entry!!! Janet Tully-Kuzman💕🇺🇸
Thank you, Janet!
I really liked your story. I came to Cambridge during my sophomore year in high school. I live in another part of New York state. I greatly enjoy going back to Cambridge and spending time with my former classmates, Class of 1966. Thank you for your post.
Thank you, Marjorie! I hope you and your fellow Cambridge residents and alumni will continue to tune in!
Hi! I read you great blog post that captures the ambiance of the area. I was born at Mary McClellan Hospital in Cambridge on 22 Nov 1963 (the day of the JFK assassination). While our family moved 4 hours west of Cambridge to another part of upstate NY (the Finger Lakes region, beautiful in it’s own right) in 1969, the town of Cambridge and surrounding countryside of Washington County New York and Bennington County Vermont, have never left my blood. I try and go back every year from my current residence in Florida. Cambridge is just such a pretty place, full of culture, history and a strong sense of community! I think I may eventually retire back there, or at the very least buy a summer home in the area. Not much can beat the weather from late May through early September up there! Please tell me you picked up a yummy cheesecake from the New Skete Monastery where you visited there!
Hi Tony! Thank you for your comment and story. (And I’m sorry it took me so long to approve it. I didn’t even realize I had a spam folder and your comment clearly didn’t belong there.) I did indeed try the cheesecake — maple walnut. DELICIOUS! I hope you’ll continue reading as I move on to other Cambridges. You can subscribe to receive posts by email. –Jessica