In honor of our first edition of Scavenge the Square, this month we feature Somerville’s Union Square. One of the oldest commercial areas of the city, Union Square is host to number of community institutions, including Somerville Community Access Television, the Police Department, and of course, the iconic Prospect Hill Monument.
You may not know, but Union Square is deep-rooted in American history. The name of the district comes from the square having been used as a recruitment and mustering site for the Union Army during the Civil War. Prospect Hill and the neighborhood was of great strategic importance in the Revolutionary War. It is said that George Washington first raised an early version of the U.S. Flag, called the Grand Union Flag, on Prospect Hill, on January 1, 1776. That’s why every new year, Somerville celebrates the raising of the American flag right in the Square.
Today, Union Square is a diverse community with businesses representing its history and its future. The Square is home to new innovations and collaborative spaces like Fringe, the Design Annex, and Uniun Warehouse and just a bit outside of the square, Artisan’s Asylum and Brooklyn Boulders Somerville. Union Square sticks to its roots with immigrant businesses like Internacional Foods and Reliable Market. It’s also become its own foodie hot spot with Journeyman, Bronwyn and Casa B, all located in the same building. Walk just up Somerville Avenue and you’ll find Machu Picchu, Bull McCabe’s and A4 Pizza Bar. Union Square is also home to breakfast favorites Bloc 11, and Sherman Cafe. And of course, Union is home to the annual Fluff Festival (What the Fluff?! Yes. We said it.) and the ArtsUnion series.
In addition to the dining and creative spaces, the Square also has a variety of sustainable transportation services. Hubway has a station in there, and Metro Pedal Power is located right next to Fringe Union, offering “eco-friendly solutions for last mile delivery in urban areas.”
Finally, funky retail abounds with Hub Comics, Somerville Grooves and Capone Foods. So come and visit the square on January 25 for the first hunt of our Scavenge the Square series, and then come back. You will always have something to explore in the neighborhood. Check out photos from our Union Square album.
Food Spotlight: Union Square Donuts
16 Bow Street, Somerville
We first came across Union Square Donuts when they were solely working the market circuits around town. That first bite of Maple Bacon Donut at the Somerville Local First Local is for Lovers market in December 2012 was so good we rushed for more – but they were already sold out! Now they have a brick and mortar shop right in the heart of Union Square. Stop in for a quick bite and some coffee, or visit them at one of many area markets or pop-ups on the go.
Spotlight: Creative Spaces! The Green Room
62 Bow Street, Somerville
Non-food additions to the neighborhood have created an ever more exciting atmosphere, and creative spaces are popping up all over. The Green Room is one of the newest spaces to the Square. Two Somervillians wanted a space for Somerville’s creative community to sing, play and make art. So they made one. The Green Room is a great space for private and group lessons, meetings, and small recitals. Included is a ceiling-mounted projector, a baby grand, and a PA system with five channels. Need internet for your event? No problem – they’ve got wireless.
Spotlight: Fitness! Be in Union Yoga
440 Somerville Ave, Somerville
Sometimes we all just need to relax a little. Be in Union Yoga believes that yoga is for everyone. A great philosophy, we think! Bringing together mind, body and soul, the studio hosts about half a dozen classes a day for all abilities and ages. Check out Be in Union’s website for regular specials and stretch away.
Spotlight: Union Square Non-Profit Community
The Square is home to the Somerville Community Corporation, The Family Center, and the Community Access Agency of Somerville. Right next to Brooklyn Boulders is Groundwork Somerville, creating sustainable communities, youth jobs, and community planning opportunities. If you are looking for a new volunteering opportunity, check out these great organizations!
Union Square Main Streets (USMS), is a group that works to “create a vibrant neighborhood by enhancing the Union Square business district and surrounding neighborhoods through active community collaboration.” USMS hosts a variety of events, including the Fluff Festival, the square’s farmers market, and walk-in movies in the parking lot. The Board of Directors of USMS is an impressive group of residents, business owners and community activists. Included in this A-Team is the owner of The Independent and Precinct Bar, Kenneth Kelly; Anja Bresler of Prospect Hill Academy; and Kat Rutkin of Somerville Local First.