At first glance, you're not likely to see a lot of similarities between stately Cambridge, Mass., and sprawling Denton, Texas. Cambridge (population about 105,000) was already more than 200 years old when Denton (120,000) was founded in 1857. From the center of Cambridge, it's an easy stroll across the Charles River into Boston. Denton, in contrast, sits where Interstate Highway 35 divides—to the west, it's 41 miles to Fort Worth; to the east, 39 miles to Dallas. But both are college towns. Cambridge is well known as the home of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Denton has North Texas State University and Texas Woman's University. They have something else in common, too. Both have pretty much recovered from the five-year-and-counting housing recession. And both provide invaluable clues for those looking to decipher whether their own markets have seen the worst of the crisis.