Kendall Square’s neoliberal cafe

Voltage cafe
Voltage cafe’s books and art

Kendall Square, home to MIT, was never a cultural hub. It did once have a cafe that was also an art gallery, called Voltage, owned by Lucy Valena. It was spacious, had rotating art exhibits by local artists and a wall-to-wall bookcase full of random books. You could have long private conversations without feeling cramped. I wrote much of my PhD thesis there. Voltage wasn’t some hippie commune, obviously; it was a high-end espresso shop and it was expensive, like the rest of Kendall Square. It managed to still feel somewhat cozy and had a slow pace about it.


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