The Jerry’s Pond Collaborative Visioning Project
A Vision for Community-Building, Safe Public Access for a Renaturalized & Revitalized Pond with Improved Biodiversity for the Enjoyment, Education, and Inspiration of This and Future Generations.
We have partnered with the Friends of Jerry’s Pond to launch an internship program. Together, we are speaking out for improvements and calling for increased public access to Jerry’s Pond. Once a pit where clay was dug for the making of bricks, then a swimming pond for the working class residents of the North Cambridge neighborhood, Jerry’s Pond is today a wooded pond where waterfowl swim and great blue herons nest in a tree rookery.
Nature has sprung up in an urban area nestled between the Alewife MBTA station, a parkway, and approximately 4,000 affordable housing residents in the three Rindge Towers and Jefferson Park.
Shaithea Anusha Alam, Ocean River Institute intern and UMass Lowell student, is working on a survey with youths from the North Cambridge and “Soccer Nights” communities, via a partnership with Reservoir Church.
Anusha asks. . .
- How do you feel about Jerry’s Pond today?
- How can we make it more inviting, safe, and user friendly?
- Would you like Cambridge to help make Jerry’s Pond a public park with a natural pond instead of the developer keeping it private? Yes or No, Please comment why.
- Should Jerry’s Pond remain permanently fenced in?
Most people finish it in less than 5 minutes. Your answers will help us better understand how you view this opportunity of a new developer “developing” Jerry’s Pond and the W.R. Grace site (adjacent, to the north, right in the image, total 27 acres). With your participation we can better present your diverse interests and visions to decision makers. I know you’re busy, but it would be so helpful for our work to save and revitalize Jerry’s Pond if you could complete the survey.
You are welcome to write to Anusha at Anusha@oceanriver.org
Jerry’s Pond is located at the corner of Rindge Avenue and Alewife Brook Parkway (Rte 16) next to the Red Line Alewife stop and Russell Field in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and adjacent to the Minuteman Bikeway, glimpsed on the right side of the photograph.
Many have commented on the importance of Jerry’s Pond for their state of mind when commuting to work and when returning home. There are worse ways to spend a Sunday than riding a bike or taking a ride on the T to Alewife Station where there are bike racks for a walk around Jerry’s Pond.
A red-tailed hawk perches above the fence that separates Russell Field from Jerry’s Pond. Across the pond and across Alewife Parkway, the Alewife MBTA garage is visible through the trees.
Canada Geese and other waterfowl swim and loaf along the shore. You won’t know what’s there unless you look. Visitors are rarely disappointed and sometimes patience is rewarded.
Photo: Community Development Department planning document, City of Cambridge
A developer (IQHQ) recently purchased the 26-acre industrial parcel that includes Jerry’s Pond on the south side of the property. We are asking that the city and the developer work with all stakeholders to create safe public access to Jerry’s Pond. Formerly owned by W. R. Grace chemical company, Jerry’s Pond is part of a brownfield site in need of attention.
Jerry’s Pond is a living part of the North Cambridge and Alewife neighborhoods, with an opportunity to become much more of a destination, a natural refuge. The pond is part of the Alewife Brook and Mystic River watersheds that empty into Boston Harbor. Alewives run the river every spring, a time when black-crowned night herons and bald eagles forage along the shore.
When many join in, your gifts will help us create a natural reservation.
The map pictured above, depicting the area in 1866, shows the Fitchburg Line crossing the Great Swamp with side rails to ice houses on Fresh Pond. By the pond is the Concord Turnpike. In the lower right is today’s Massachusetts Avenue, then called the Road to West Cambridge (Arlington). Jerry’s Pond is the clay pit to the right. The other clay pit, closer to the tracks, was filled for the building of the Rindge Towers. Today Rindge Avenue is located between the two clay pits.
The wood to the right that is labeled “Former Heronry of Night Herons also of Robin Roost.” In 1834, Thomas Nuttall took his students on woodland “rambles” into a tract in swampy woods. Nesting in the tallest of white pines, they saw several hundred night herons. Even then, numbers of herons were being reduced because the “heronry” could be seen from Mass Ave and the birds were shot.
Later in the nineteenth century, William Brewster led the Nuttall Ornithological Club into the Great Swamp in search of herons: “persistently and at first hopefully, but always vainly. . .”
Great blue herons, eradicated by 1834, nested successfully in Jerry’s Pond in 2018, to the delight of many passing by.