Cambridge Common, c. 1970

Self-Guided Bike Tour: Pedaling the People’s Republic, A History of Political Activism in Cambridge

“All politics is local” said Tip O’Neill, Cambridge resident and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to 1986. From its creation by a group defined by their religious and political extremism, Cambridge has been the home of people with strongly held convictions. The city played a central role in the American Revolution and the abolitionist movement before being named “The People’s Republic” for its role in the anti-war, civil rights, tenant’s rights, gay rights, sustainable development, and environmental movements. Pedaling the People’s Republic will take participants on a tour of past political activity from the Revolution to the grass roots movements of the 20th century.

Our tour circles Cambridge history. We start at the Cambridge Common and loop past locations connected to the 19th-century No-License movement on the way to “Barry’s Corner” in North Cambridge. We stop at the former 18th-century free African-American community of Lewisville near the Radcliffe Quad and visit a site near Central Square associated with the 1960s anti-war movement. We finish, historically, where we started: at Lechmere Square in East Cambridge, named for a Loyalist who fled the country at the beginning of the Revolution. We hope you enjoy this spin through time and through the city of Cambridge!

Take a self-guided tour: Download a program here.

Sponsored by the Cambridge Bicycle Committee