Cambridge Stage & Omnibus Lines

Cambridge is the home to Harvard University, and the town's population grew significantly after the West Boston Bridge was built in 1793 (a toll bridge). As commerce greatly expanded with Boston, a stage coach line was established in the 1820s. By the 1830s, hourly omnibuses had replaced the coaches. A stage coach was a large carriage drawn by four horses, while an omnibus was a smaller vehicle drawn by two horses. The Cambridge Railroad was the first official horse car company to begin operating in Massachusetts (1856), and the omnibus lines were soon replaced by horse car routes. It has been written that while the two modes operated concurrently, people rode the omnibuses on Sunday as self-mandated penance, as they were much less comfortable than the horse cars.

Mr. Abel Willard kept a tavern in what is now known as Harvard Square, Cambridge. At the rear of the tavern Mr. James B. Read ran a large livery stable, and in 1826 he established a stage line between Cambridge and Boston. This four-horse stage was driven by Cyrus Morse, and made two trips each way daily, the fair being 25 cents. Mr. Read sold out is stable to Abel Willard, and his stage and route to Eben Kimball of Cambridgeport. Kimball put in a two-hourly stage from Harvard Square, with Morse as the driver, and an hourly stage from Cambridgeport, with Wheeler and Bartlett as drivers.

As business increased an hourly was established from Harvard Square with Mark Bills as additional driver. Soon Morse retired and Bills took the tavern at Cambridgeport, buying into the stage route with Kimball, who kept his stable in Cambridgeport. Mr. Kimball operated two of the finest and largest and finest omnibuses that ever ran into or out of Boston. They were named Harvard and University. There was still another coach of equal size and beauty which bore the name of Edward Everett, then Governor of the state. There were other somewhat shorter omnibuses than those named and which were only run from the Cambridgeport office.

The terminus of these omnibuses was in Brattle Street, near Harvard Square. Derived from a May 19, 1900 Boston Globe article. 

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