Fresh Pond Reservation consists of the 155 acre kettle-hole lake called Fresh Pond and 162 acres of surrounding land. The Pond is part of the reservoir system for the City of Cambridge that includes Hobbs Brook Reservoir in Lincoln, Lexington and Waltham, and Stony Brook Reservoir in Weston. Water from Fresh Pond is purified at the new Walter J. Sullivan Water Purification Facility adjacent to the Pond, and pumped to Payson Park Reservoir in Belmont. From there it flows back to the City by gravity, providing drinking water to residents and businesses of Cambridge.
Fresh Pond and the surrounding hills were sculpted by the retreating Laurentide Glacier about 15,000 years ago. Native Americans found an abundance of fish in the ponds and streams of this area, and plentiful wildlife in the woods and marshes. European settlers were also attracted by the rich environment. The Charles River in contrast, was inter-tidal and not a source of fresh water. In the mid 1800’s the Pond was privately owned and the site of a flourishing ice industry, its clean water producing high quality ice that was shipped as far away as Europe, China and India. The Pond became the City’s drinking water supply in 1852. In 1888, in the interest of protecting the purity of the water, the Massachusetts Legislature granted Cambridge the right of eminent domain to acquire all the land that is currently part of the Reservation from private owners and the Town of Belmont. The small ponds we call Black’s Nook and Little Fresh Pond were created from shallow coves in the larger Pond by gravel dikes, which were built to help prevent pollution and to serve as a bed for the road that encircles the Pond.
Today Fresh Pond is a favorite place for many people who enjoy walking, running, bike riding, and roller-blading on the 2¼-mile perimeter road. Birders come to observe a wide variety of resident birds, as well as numerous migrating songbirds and waterfowl that pass through every year. Artists, naturalists and students also treasure this green oasis in its urban setting.
— Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation