Central Square has its fair share of shady characters and crazies. That being said, it should be treated like any inner-city neighborhood and a certain amount of care should be taken (just being generally aware of surroundings, not flashing money or expensive phones/ipods around, not walking alone in the middle of the night etc.) There is a pretty big police presence in Central Square keeping things in order and there are lots of shops, restaurants, etc. so it stays pretty populated. Walking from Central to Harvard isn't really an issue. I'm in Central Square quite often by myself and I never feel particularly unsafe.
I have always thought Central Square to be safe, and long before the area got popular.
The walk between Central and Harvard is very nice. I have done it many times.
If you do this you will come to a fork, Mass ave goes to the right and Mt. Auburn to the left....keep the right and bear left...this brings you to Bow and Arrow Streets....St. paul's church is here...stop at one of the cafe's and relax and have at least a coffee.
Central Square is safe to walk through, and to/from, even at night. However, I would not be comfortable with letting my high-school age or younger teens "hang out" by themselves in any large U.S. city. Off their own "turf", they simply wouldn't know what local 'conditions' to look out for. Walking from Central to Harvard is no problem, but again I would not think of letting most teens do this alone in a U.S. city they don't know well.
I am frequently in Central Square and do not feel unsafe there, even at night. It is in many ways a more interesting area than Harvard Square which has turned into a corporate shopping mall. There are a number of strange characters who hang out in Central Square but it safer than it appears. There are a lot of Harvard and MIT students in the area too. The walk to Harvard is not a problem. Try some coffee and pastry at the Clear Conscience Cafe in Central Square.Edited: 07 June 2011, 11:27
There are some strange characters at times in Central Square, but it's generallly safe. I would not have qualms about letting 2 teenagers walk from Central to Harvard Square. But that said, it does depend on the kids. Are your kids used to cities? Can they pick out the just odd, but harmless characters from the ones that may not be so harmless? Are they young teenagers or older teenagers?
Of course, there is no need to walk from Central to Harvard. It's one stop on the Red Line. The subway is safe.Edited: 07 June 2011, 21:58
I suppose it depends how old we're talking. 13 is one thing, but I'd find it weird if a kid can drive a car or be of college age but not be allowed to walk around on his/her own. If your kids are used to cities (and used to ignoring people who try to talk to them/hit them up for cash on the street) I don't see how Cambridge will really shock them. Central Square is a pretty well-populated area well into the night.
i live in central square and it's pretty much completely safe. during the day there are always loads of people around, including a lot of college-aged kids and younger, and i agree that the cambridge police is good about being "present" without being intrusive. weekends are even safer with even more people around including parents with young kids.
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