Cambridge, Maryland

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Cambridge is a city in Dorchester County, Maryland, United States. The population was 10,911 at the 2000 census and 11,752 according to current July 2008 census estimates.[1] It is the county seat of Dorchester County and the county's largest municipality. Cambridge is the fourth most populous city in Maryland's Eastern Shore region, after Salisbury, Elkton and Easton.[1][2]



Settled by English colonists in 1684, Cambridge is one of the oldest colonial cities in Maryland.[3] At the time of English colonization, the Algonquian-speaking Choptank Indians were already living along the river of the same name. During the colonial years, the English colonists developed farming on the Eastern Shore. The largest plantations were devoted first to tobacco, and then mixed farming. Planters employed many enslaved Africans for tobacco but needed less labor for mixed farming. The town was a trading center for the area. It was incorporated officially in 1793 and occupies part of the former Choptank Indian Reservation.[4]

Cambridge developed food processing industries in the late 19th century, canning oysters, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. Industrial growth in Cambridge was led by the Phillips Packing Company, which eventually grew to become the area's largest employer. The company won contracts with the Department of Defense during the First and Second World wars that aided its growth. At its peak, it employed as many as 10,000 workers.[5] Changing tastes brought about a decline in business leading Phillips to downsize its operations. By the early 1960s the company ceased operations altogether. This led to widescale unemployment and added to the city's growing social problems.[6]

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