in the years immediately preceding the adoption of the charter was the main reason for the change in its form of government.
From the national census of 1840 to the assessors' census of 1845 there had been an increase of 48 per cent. in the population,—a larger percentage than is recorded in any other five-year period of the history of Cambridge
With this remarkable growth in population there had also been an increase of 32 per cent. in the town's valuation.
In 1845, the administrative methods of the old town-meeting form of government were strained to meet the community needs of 12,490 people, and even then these needs were inadequately supplied.
We are not now concerned, however, so much in the outward change in the form of government made by the people in 1846, as we are with the new conception of municipal life which had its birth at that time.
The great increase in population and wealth in the years immediately preceding the charter year had taken place largely in Cambridgeport
and East Cambridge.
The tendency of the centre of population toward West Boston Bridge had always been regarded with ill favor by the conservative people who formed the colony around Harvard College, and when, in 1832, this tendency was emphasized by the erection of the new town-house on Norfolk Street and the consequent final adjournment of the town meeting from the Old Village to the Port, open and determined attempts to divide the town were made.
These efforts to secede were met, on the other side, by a determination to effect ‘a more perfect union.’
And thus a desire for better municipal service and a closer municipal unity found expression on the 30th day of March, 1846, in the acceptance of the charter by a vote of 645 to 224.
But the new desire found many discouragements.
To unify the apparently diverse interests of the Old Village, the Port, and the Point
, fifty years ago, was no easy task.
The division of the young city into separate communities—‘unavoidably accented by Nature,’ as one writer has said—was so marked that it was not surprising to find those who believed that the villages had no common interests which demanded a common government.
Communication between the three communities was slow, and at some seasons of the year even difficult.
In the school system the idea of town division had been carefully preserved, even to the extent of maintaining three high schools.
The fire department, although a unit in name, was composed