Worcester Common Outlets; Worcester, Massachusetts

Vintage aerial shot of original Worcester Center Galleria Mall
Worcester Common is New England’s largest and most notorious dead mall. It has died twice, in separate decades. At various points, it has stood as a crown jewel of achievement or as a mark of embarassment. It was once saved by television star Judith Light. The mall itself was built in an attempt at saving a large, dying city whose economy was built on a long-lost manufacturing industry. It is a classic example of an urban renewal project gone wrong, built on an inhuman scale and unkind to its surroundings. Current plans call for developer Berkley Investments to attempt to make it right.

Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006The Worcester Common Fashion Outlets originally opened as the Worcester Center Galleria on July 29, 1971. Intended as a way to export the fashions of Boston to the suburbs while revitalizing the ailing downtown of Worcester, Massachusetts’ second largest city, the mall was to be state of the art for its time. Built by demolishing a large swath of the eastern edge of Worcester’s downtown in what was then de rigeur urban renewal, the mall boasted 1,000,000 square feet of floor space snuggled between a pair of skyscrapers, with big city fashion stores like Filene’s, Jordan Marsh, and Kennedy’s. The Worcester Galleria’s centerpiece was its long, two story glass atrium, modeled after the ancient Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy, which allowed copious natural light to filter into the mall. Unusual for its time, the mall drew residents of not only Worcester but of many nearby suburbs looking for the finest in big city fashions all under one roof. To help bring them in, the mall was ringed by a 4,300-car parking structure, at its time the largest parking garage in the world.
Unfortunately, as early as 1973 the mall faced concerns that it was not viable, and it floundered for much of its life, in part due to its location. Many suburbanites were afraid of shopping there, as the mall attracted a certain city element that scared them off (this being the era of suburbanization, after all). Similarly, many residents of Worcester immediately resented the way the mall replaced so much of the city’s historic downtown and created an impenetrable wall between downtown and the east side. This excellent Worcester Magazine photo essay and oral history of the mall–which includes many vintage photos–details what it was like at the original Worcester Center Galleria from 1971 to 1993. (Worcester Magazine has taken this piece down, but if you know where to locate it somewhere on the web–or would like to provide us with some of the content, please leave a comment. This was a great piece and I’m sad it has gone away.)

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By the mid-1990s, the Worcester Center Galleria had lost most of its customer base due to stronger suburban malls (most of which will be detailed in subsequent posts in the coming weeks). Steven Karp’s Malls of New England Development, the company responsible for building many of the newer successful malls throughout the region (all of which were sold to Simon in 1999), purchased the mall and dramatically repositioned it as the Worcester Common Fashion Outlets. Much of the interior of the mall was renovated, with carpeting added throughout the interiors and an unusual roster of tenants (leaning on outlet stores, and approximately mirroring the typical Mills mall) brought in to help. With the original anchors gone, the mall now boasted Sports Authority, Bed Bath and Beyond (both sharing the former Jordan Marsh space), Saks Off Fifth Avenue Outlet, VF Factory Outlets, Media Play, and Filene’s Basement as anchors.

Judith Light, Worcester Common Fashion Outlets SpokeswomanBut that wouldn’t be enough. The mall needed Judith Light.

Judith Light became Worcester Common Fashion Outlets’ spokeswoman in 1994, appearing in a large and widespread publicity campaign, complete with advertisements in nearly all forms of media. Light was available to sign autographs and meet shoppers at the mall for a somewhat extended period of time when the mall first opened (a week or so, I believe?) and the thrust of the campaign was that Light shopped there, so you should too. This campaign made absolutely no mention of the old Worcester Center Galleria. It worked, bringing shoppers back to Worcester Common in droves. The mall was a success. Two years later, in 1996, its name was shortened simply to Worcester Common Outlets.

Sadly, this resurgence would be even more short lived.

In 1997, the massive Wrentham Village Premium Outlets opened in the southwestern portion of interstate 495, in a location that was both convenient and suburban, lending at least the impression of greater safety. Similarly, Wrentham Village was one of the first of the modern outlet centers built in New England–instead of London Fog and Van Heusen, the center leaned heavily on fashion favorites like The Gap or gizmo shacks like the Sony Store. It was also bigger, with over 200 tenants. Suddenly there was little reason to return to the Worcester Common Outlets.

worcester-common-06.jpgBeginning that year, Worcester Common died an agonizingly slow death, losing customers and stores slowly with each passing year. Like many downtown malls, it retained its busy food court, but stores progressively emptied out, leaving large swaths of the still-immaculate mall empty. In 1999, the mall suffered a minor bout of bad publicity after the famous Worcester warehouse fire, wherein six firefighters lost their lives trying to save two homeless people living inside of an abandoned cold storage building. Said homeless residents, who had been inadvertently responsible for setting the fire, fled the building and were listening to music at the mall’s Media Play store while firefighters thought they were attempting to save them from the burning building.

The long side-wing to access Sports Authority and Bed Bath and Beyond emptied first, as both anchors threw in the towel, and was converted for a time to the Quinsigamond Community College. The rest of the mall slowly followed until the 2004 announcement that Berkley Investments of Boston planned to purchase the ailing mall and demolish it. Their plan was to re-knit the street pattern of downtown Worcester with a project dubbed CitySquare, recreating much of the neighborhood that was lost in the original urban renewal project and eliminating the inward-facing mall, which had at this point died twice. Tenants leases were not renewed, and the mall was closed in phases, with the last of the mall shutting for good in April 2006.

My own final visit to the interior of the mall was in May of 2004, and the Worcester Common Outlets were clean and sparkling as always… but almost completely devoid of customers or activity. Most stores had left, and the only ones that had arrived in recent times were service businesses or a wig shop. Like in most downtown malls, the food court continued to hum but little else did. The Media Play had the distinctive stink of a dying beast, with a rather spare collection of merchandise spread bizarrely through their large store to make it look more “full.” Nothing was merchandised on the slatwall on all sides of the store, and at least one of the CD displays had fully collapsed but no one seemed to care.

As of today, nothing has been done with the property beyond the relocation of a CVS Pharmacy from inside the mall to an exterior-facing space in the former Media Play, though here are two diagrams from the developer showing the current and future configurations of the property:

Current Worcester Common Fashion Outlets configuration

Future CitySquare configuration

In retrospect, the Worcester Center Galleria and Worcester Common Fashion Outlets bridged what was perhaps the most troubled era in Worcester’s history. After having lost its job base and facing the outmigration of the post-war era, Worcester suffered and the mall was an attempt at creating a band-aid to stop the bleeding. Unfortunately, a large swath of downtown was sacrificed in the process. Now, with urbanization a strong, established trend and Worcester’s increasing popularity with people priced out of Boston who crave an urban lifestyle, the CitySquare development is poised to at least help and recreate the Worcester that was. Not many tears will be shed for the mall, but it was an important part of the city’s history nonetheless.

There is an excellent thread on the topic, complete with many photos, at UrbanPlanet for those who are interested in reading further.

The photos on this page arrive from a variety of sources. The diagrams of the new development are taken from Berkeley Investments CitySquare Website, and the aerial photo at top is from a fifteen-year-old Metro Worcester atlas produced by the now-defunct Arrow map company. The 2001 shots, including all of the interiors of the mall, were taken by Prangeway. The 2006 shots, of the exteriors today, were all taken by me.

2001:

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2006:

Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006 North entrance to Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006 Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006 Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006

Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006 Media Play building at Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006 Media Play at Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006

Food court area at Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006 Main entrance to Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006 Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006

Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006 Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006 Worcester Common Fashion Outlet mall property in 2006

54 Responses to “Worcester Common Outlets; Worcester, Massachusetts”

  1. I was here ages ago, maybe late 90′s. I remembered it as always as being a very liquidated, lackluster and tired “outlet” style mall even then. Interesting to see the existing label scars and the giant “mall entrance” sign. The city of Worcester is a hip, up-to-date area in Mass… I’m surprised the mall wasn’t converted into something earlier. Something about urban projects which always take time I suppose.

    P.S. Grandly apprechiated for adding me to your affiliates list. Your site definitely inspires.

    XISMZERO
    Nick DiMaio

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  2. That’s an incredible story. Can’t believe something that beautiful died. Well, I guess I *CAN* believe it, but it’s too bad. Our own version of the Galleria is the Crocker Galleria in San Francisco. It looks exactly the same, but it’s in a really urban area. It seems be to doing well, but it’s never been the ultimate shopping mecca. Nevertheless, thanks for sharing the excellent photos!
    Scott

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  3. Historically referenced design, massive failure, Judith Light: this mall has everything!

    I can tell which anchor was the Jordan Marsh. The brick gives it away.

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  4. Actually, if you click on the aerial photo at the top of the post, you can make out the large “JORDAN MARSH” lettering on the roof of the old anchor. Like many of their stores built in that era, it was very large.

    I should also note that, despite butting up against the mall, the actual entrance of the Jordan Marsh was down a long side hallway. Looking at the aerial, the hallway to access Jordan Marsh was on the LEFT side of the anchor. That went up to the main wing, where it took a hard right turn to go down the main atrium which eventually exits out to the street. There is a second long wing leading towards the top of the mall; this wing was where the food court was on level 2 and Media Play was on level 1.

    To this day, I’m not sure which space housed the Filene’s, and judging by the design of the mall it had one or two more anchors initially but I don’t know what they were.

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    Mall Rat Reply:

    @Caldor, Jordan Marsh actually had entrances on all four sides of its store on both levels of the mall The main entrances were located off the ‘galleria’. There were also entrances off the former “South Mall” which later became the entrances to Sports Authority and Bed, Bath & Beyond during the mall’s reincarnation as the Fashion Outlets. The store also had entrances from the parking garage, and on the north side of the building which opened up onto a barren hallway leading to the mall’s ‘famous’ glass elevator. (the hallway disappeared during the mall’s renovation)

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  5. How could one forget Judith Light? It’s exaclty like a Lifetime special: a story of courage and perseverance.
    Scott

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  6. What else is Judith Light know n for anyway?

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  7. I’m a current college student in Worcester and watched this mall’s final few years. Actually, being from Boston, I had visted the place quite a few times before starting college…always while waiting for an event at the adjacent DCU Center/Worcester Centrum (the white and red octagon in that top photo). That’s all the mall ever seemed to be really good for. I remember going there to hang out with my dad between the autograph session and the gates opening at the Monster Truck shows every year. Since the mall has closed, everyone’s either been let in right away or just held up at the doors until the appropriate time.

    The mall was still fairly functional when I came here in late 2003, most of the anchors were still there and most of the mall was still open. The Media Play is what I liked the most, and it was the one anchor that stayed the longest. The place never felt unsafe to me, and I actually enjoyed going there.

    The unfortunate thing is that the mall is pretty representative of the downtown Worcester area in general. There’s several colleges nearby (WPI, where I’m at, is walking distance), but no one ever goes downtown unless there’s something at the DCU Center, and that applies beyond students to just about everyone in the area. Other local attractions are suffering too – the Art Museum, where I do work study, has seen a steady decline in attendance over the past couple of years. Worcester is quickly becoming a city of two main industries – education, and whatever is in the arena at the time.

    I never got to go there while it was still up, but I wonder if the Hartford Civic Center Mall suffered a similar fate – death via becoming arena support.

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  8. Hi, I grew up and Worcester and have many fond childhood memories of this mall. The Filene’s space was what ultimately was converted to the Common Outlet’s food court on the upper floor and Media Play on the lower level. It’s also where CVS is today. If you look closely at the pictures above you can tell that it was a slightly different looking space. The large glass façade that graced the food court in the old Filene’s space was one of the most notable additions to the Worcester Common Fashion Outlets.

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  9. [...] In addition to the Worcester Common Outlets, the city of Worcester is home to another, smaller enclosed shopping mall: the Greendale Mall, on the city’s north side, near the junction of Gold Star Blvd (MA-12) and I-190, not far north of the junction of I-290. [...]

  10. Having remember the old Greyhound bus station, the Blue Goose, Henry’s Hobbie, The Fun House and many others on the site of the Gallaria, I guess you could call me a old timer of Worcester. I can recall the day when the first shovelful of dirt was dug up by city officials for the official dedication of the site. I guess I was part of that first generation of mall rats. I left Wormtown in ’77 for Ca, but I will alway’s remember my times in Worcester .Hope that the new project helps Worcester.

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  11. Growing up in Worcester normally prepares you for a life of cynicism, but things like this mall confirm it. The local paper’s reporting that the developers are having zero luck attracting tenants to the new CitySquare project. I can’t say I blame prospective tenants. 30+ years of failure’s a tough sell for anyone. Other good projects are going on downtown – the new performing arts center, the renovation of the decrepit Burwick building, Union Station, Washington Square, and the Blackstone “canal district” slowly coming to fruition – but this one’s unsurprisingly stuck in the mud.

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  12. I fear that a similar urban mall (Providence Place) could potentially face the same fate as the Worcester Galleria / Worcester Common Outlets. Although it currently is marketed for a more upscale clientele, its immediate trade area does not, on average, have an income sufficient enough to support the mall, if suburbanites eventually abandon it. Also, it has been a deep, dark secret that the mall is plagued with gangs and rats. The gangs often rule the mall after it closes, since the theaters on the fourth level are open later than the mall. I work at Hallmark at the Swansea Mall, which has seen better days, and my manager says that she was shocked by the state of the mall after hours when she was helping the Hallmark store in the mall close. They literally had to lock the gate every time they left the store to bring out shelving units, etc. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what becomes of the Providence Place.

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  13. Am I the only one that thinks Judith Light is disturbing looking in that pic? Or in general?

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  14. Sadly, it was probably better as a mall. It at least had a decent food court and dollar store.

    The whole CitySquare thing has floundered. Parts of the old mall are being used, but the piece where the Galleria sign had been doesn’t even look like it’s been touched.

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  15. Part of the problem was the “Spag’s Mentality” of Worcester’s working class culture. Spag’s was the original warehouse-shopping experience, and it set in working class Worcester before– and during– deindustrialization. Wo-Rats went for bargains and discounts; not high priced yuppie allure. People hated the Galleria because they had to pay for parking, and why pay Jordan Marsh prices when they could go to “The Fair” on Route 20 or the Auburn Mall? Racism and white flight were also a big problem.

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  16. Oh…bah humbaugh! That is how I feel about the Galleria closing. I grew up in this mall!!! From the 70′s to late 80′s. I remember store like… Jordan Marsh, Filene’s Basement, Weathervane, Ups and Downs, Windsor Button, Dream Machine, Orange Julius, Limited(when it was sweats only clothes). Oh my…if anyone else can remember any other store names that would be great. Oh yes..and then they finally built a cheesy night club on the bottom floor of the mall but can’t remember the name….

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    mikael Reply:

    @Jenni, shabooms was the night club your thinking about and i am currently 14 and i still have some memories of wen i was a lil’ youngan and going to that mall with my mother personally i miss it.

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    kelly Reply:

    @Jenni, the dance club downstairs was Uptown

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    tony Reply:

    @Jenni,

    i think the name of the club was called rendezvous… and remeber plums was near the filenes main store lol

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    James Reply:

    @Jenni, The night club on the bottom floor was The Rondevue disco… I think I spelled that wrong but I was 18 and I was there in 1978…

    James

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  17. I’m not sure how to submit new pictures here, but I’ve got a few I took way back in 04 right before the mall shuttered for good. You can catch them on my website for now!

    http://amesfanclub.com/archive/main.php/v/other/wco/

    Chris

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  18. I managed the parking garages through the busy times ’95-’00. I found that though the mall was well managed and always spotless. It was also much safer than most thought. The problem lies in the people living in the city and the “Spags Mentality”, we often had locals complain about our .99 cent rate for 2.5 hours of parking, many would wait for the change from a dollar (which BTW went to the local food bank). The population could have supported this Mall, even with Wrentham. You can change the landscape, but you can’t change the people. Best of luck CitySquare!!!

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  19. I grew up with the old Worcester Center especially living on Hacker st. With only a short walk I would be there. This was the only shopping Mall with two Papa Ginos and entertainment from open until beyond close with the Dream Machine arcade, Theatre, and Dance Club. My Father had even taken oil painting here. Shopping at the old Chess King and Kay B Toys and Hobby, Spencer Gifts, and the list goes on. I believe the charge for parking had alot to do with it’s problems. I had visited (now I am Florida) in about 2006 and was kind of surprised to see a modern day ghost shopping center. I believe this is also partially due to the new mall opening as well. It is very unfortunate seeing this beautiful building that once housed so many businesses and memories especially for us that grew up going here on an almost daily basis.I would get dropped off at the old Ionic av Boys club and skip off to the Center. Worcester was definately an industrial city. My family members had worked for Rexnord chain belt(wich is now closed), Crompton and Knowles(wich is now closed as well), Polar soda, and so on. For me there is so much history here but as with anything change is inevitable. If anyone has any old pictures of the inside and or outside please feel free to e-mail me at mandmgarageproductions@yahoo.com. If you have taken the time to read this thanks! Joe

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  20. Lived in Springfield and went to school in Boston. I worked in Worcester and Littleton for a while. I had stopped at the Galleria a few times and it was quite a nice 80′s mall to be a rat at!
    I did not like the “Common Outlets” as much, but I did get a few things there in the 90′s, but the outlets did not have the same feel the Galleria did.

    I also used to go to the GreenDale mall a bit when I worked in Litt;eton – is that still around?

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  21. The Greendale mall lives!

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    mikael Reply:

    @Peter, i think that the greendale mall is suffering the same fate but the auburn mall is thriving

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    marisa Reply:

    @mikael,

    Auburn mall is the WORST……….awful mall………….back in teh 80′s the worcester Gallerian was the place for all us head bangin types(at the time) to hang around……. Pap Gino’s deep pan pizza did the trick and Wilt Tops had the best iron on tshirts…lol…………it was cool at the time but we are too advanced now and I think they need to start from scratch……update to the times…………..

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  22. What did the Kennedy’s and Filene’s become in the “Common Outlets”?

    And what is Kennedy’s anyway?

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  23. I might be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the Kennedy’s was split into the Media Play on the first level and the food court on the second level. The Filene’s was split into two single-level stores also; I believe these were VF Factory Outlets and… ugh, Filenes Basement? Saks Off Fifth Avenue? I forget which was the other one in there.

    Redevelopment plans for this mall have stalled so nothing has really been done to it since I posted this two years ago.

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  24. Caldor: I used to work in this mall during its days as the Galleria, and used to hang out there all the time. It really wasn’t a bad mall in either incarnation – in spite of what some people have said.

    Kennedy’s occupied two levels at the southern end of the Galleria. I believe Kennedy’s circa 1979. Kennedy’s former first level was subdivided into three smaller retail spaces and its second level was converted into Filene’s Basement sometime around 1980. (And don’t say, “Ugh!” – “The Basement” was a fantastic place to shop back in the days when it was actally owned by Filene’s Department Stores!)

    “The Basement” made it through the mall’s rebirth as the Fashion Outlets and closed sometime in the mid-1990s. It was then replaced by the VF Factory Outlet (which was -not- a fantasic place to shop!)

    The Media Play store on the first level of the mall’s west end was converted from the first floor of Filene’s department store, one of the mall’s original tenants. Filene’s second level became the mall’s Food Court.

    The Saks Fifth Ave “Off 5th” store on mall’s the second level of the mall’s northern end was formerly a Lane Bryant in the mall’s original incarnation.

    FYI – During the 1980s, shortly before the Galleria closed and was coverted to he Outlets, a photographer from Clark University named Stephen DiRado took a series of photographs featuring the mall’s patrons, and was exhibited at the Worcester Art Museum. These are posted these at his website online: http://www.stephendirado.com/mall.htm .

    They’re kinda interesting

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    tony Reply:

    @Galleria Mallrat,
    i use to work in filenes basement from 1981 to 1987 the mall was always busy then!! I use to love how the 1st floor o the jordan marsh store looked as you would walk in. all the cosmetics and glass and everythingwas white… very cool store at the time. The common outlets were ok (loved donna karen) but the galleria was much better!!

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  25. My best memory of the Galleria is meeting Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg there – they are the piano player and drummer of Springsteen’s E Street Band.

    In September of 1984 Bruce played a couple shows at the Centrum, which is located across the street. I scored tickets and on the day of the show, picked up my girlfriend at Assumption College around 4:00 so that we’d have time for her to buy a skirt that she needed for a new waitressing job, and we could get something to eat and then go for drinks at the Firehouse Cafe (located just around the corner from mall) before the concert. We wanted to really make a day of it…

    We parked on the other side of Main Street, halfway up the hill, at this little lot that I knew wherein I never had a problem parking for hours at a time, free of charge. Walking through the Common towards the Galleria, I spied Roy and Max sitting on a bench, shooting the breeze. I remember that Roy was drinking an orange soda. My girlfriend didn’t believe that they were who I said they were, so we went into a record shop in the mall and I showed her a picture of the band from a book about Springsteen.

    Then we went into what I think was a Papa Gino’s and grabbed some chow. A few minutes later, who comes strolling by the window of Papa Gino’s, but Roy and Max! We scrambled out of our booth and introduced ourselves and shook their hands and had a minute of pleasantries exchanged. I recall that my girlfriend asked Max if he had any children… not sure why she asked that and don’t recall his response. They were kinda surprised by the attention and by being recognized, it seemed, and I guess it’s because back then their faces weren’t as well known. So then we told them about me spotting them in the Common and verifying identities at the record store. I remember the mall was almost completely empty (this was on a weekday during the day, so not surprising) and I thought it was so cool we were standing there shooting the breeze with a couple of almost-celebs. We finished our meal and did some shopping, and then they acknowledged us again as we passed on the escalator an hour later. However, if you’re wondering, they didn’t wave from stage later that night…

    This was the most exciting thing to happen to me at that mall, until I got audited by the IRS in the mid-1990′s and had to report to their office which was connected to the mall. I killed time at Media Play until the time of my appointment, then went upstairs and got killed in penalties, late fees and interest. Ah, such warm memories of Worcester Center Mall.

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  26. And two and a half years later, it appears the mall is finally going to be demolished: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view/2009_04_02_Worcester_to_raze_mall_for_major_redevelopment/srvc=home&position=also

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  27. OMG. What a disaster. I belong to the HIstoric Preservation Society of Worcester. We have some really great buildings here. I remember that night club in the lower level. I can’t remember the name. There was a restaurant called Plums. My friend George was the manager of an arcade there and my brother worked at the movie theatre. They made him rinse the brains of an unfortunate public inebriate, who fell off that high concrete wall by the stairs, off the side walk and he was only sixteen. What a crazy place. I did learn to disco at that club when the drinking age was still eighteen. Can’t say I miss any of it, especially the lovely smell of urine that permeates all the stairwells in the parking garage.

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  28. True story:

    There was an elderly homeless man who lived in the old Jordon Marsh space. He was a junkie too. We (being security) found Polaroids of him and some other younger homeless man having sex, and some spoons and heroine needles and such.

    The homeless loved that mall, we’d find their condoms all over the place, well, when they were good ebno0ugh to use condoms…

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    marisa Reply:

    @Anon,

    Does anyone remember “BROWNIE” the famous bum in Worcester…sat on the stone wall next to UMASS every day………i think that was his name??

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  29. Lots of people have mentioned the nightclub located nect to the “Galleria 123″ cinemas in the basement of the former Galleria. .

    When the mall originally opened up, the nightclub space was originally a restaurant. I think it was a steakhouse of some sort (J.C’s?) and think it was fairly upscale. I assume the mall’s developers were making some attempt to create their version of an “entertainment disctrict” within the new mall: Dinner and a Movie – all in the basement!:
    ,
    The name of the restaurant escapes me – but it only stayed around until the mid-1970s. Circa 1978, (and probably anticipating Worcester’s bid to become “‘The Paris of the ’80′s”) the restaurant space became a ‘disco’ called “Rendezvous” – which lasted about as long as the disco-craze did,

    Sometime in the early 1980s, I think they renamed the club “Sanctuary” and turned the disco into a “rock-club” but by the mid 1980s “Sanctuary” was gone and the club became a country-western bar called “Texas” which lasted all of three seconds.

    I think after “Texas” closed, the space was turned into a club for the “under-21″ set which we jokingly referred to as “H.R. Pufinstuf’s” which may have made it into the 90s – but by that time, the theatre had been closed, Jordan-Marsh, which also maintained basement access into their store, closed, and the Galleria went into its death-spiral.

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  30. This mall used to an a kindergarthern center in the basement and a rare central mass outpost of ubonpain

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  31. The restaurant: Before it was Plum’s, it was called Finnian’s.

    The nightclub: It had at least two previous incarnations before Rendezvous, the second being an all-ages club called something like “Firestorm”. This would have been around 1976 or 1977.

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  32. Sure would be great to see the “Galleria” back as it was in its glory in the 70s and I guess early 80s its such a beautiful building inside, even after all this time it seems such a shame to see it destroyed…..just my opinion

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  33. The Galleria was a great place to shop. Though from Walpole MA, I attended Holy Cross College from 1976 to 1980. My grandparents would come visit now and then, they loved Finnian’s at the mall, as well as Maxwell Silverman’s which is somewhere in the downtown area.

    Students with valid college ID could park at the attached garage for free or almost free. Great deal for us back then, I guess not so great for the City of Worcester as an income source.

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  34. I go to the Dead Galleria every once in awhile.
    Although not yet published, and may not be until June, I have a video of an Otis Freight Elevator within the “catacombs” of the dead mall. There were no signs stating it could not be used (two others, did, so I let them be), and recorded a 2-lap trip. It was the best. FAR better running than the neglected Montgomeries in the Parking Garage (red/blue), especially the imfamous Death Trap Ted Reinstein and I rode, on Chronicle (Red section, center of garage).
    While down in the bowels, via the lowest floor in the red corder of the garage, I found the dead Workout World, two decomissioned elevators (Montgomery), and halls with “No Trespassing” on them, thus, stopping there.
    While down there, I found the basement entry to the Flagship Bank Building, and rode a couple of their modernized Otis elevators, one was getting a bit death-trappy (noisy and shaky). I could not find the way into the Bank of America Building from down there (rode a couple Otii there as well another time).
    However, there IS a part of the dead mall still in-use, connected to the BOA Tower, across from the Yellow Garage. It houses government offices, a college satellite office, the YMCA, and such. Where the department store was (where the “fancy” archetecture ended from the mall side of things), was a Montgomery elevator, which Schindler got their awful mitts on. Rode it as well. The escalators still work, but are turned off on weekends.
    I got to go back to the BOA Tower, and ride the elevator to Lower Level, and see what’s that way.

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  35. If I’m not mistaken, you may add Casual Corner, Century Records, and a Friendly’s franchise to the 1971 roster of shops.

    I distinctly recall that, even back then, the merchandise available, at the Galleria outposts of Filene’s and Jordan Marsh, always seemed to be shopworn, fourth- or fifth-generation retreads already rejected by customers in DTX/Boston, Chestnut Hill, Shoppers’ World/Framingham, and Natick. It’s a shame, then, that the over-hyped arrival of these two homely retail-stepchildren and their hand-me-down wares, nevertheless contributed to the premature demise of Denholm’s – ironically enough, known as, “The Boston Store,” mind you! – along with the rest of Main Street (which had managed to remain a bustling little shopping community – if a tad humble, by Boston standards – before the Galleria either syphoned off stores like Sharfman’s Jewelers, or lured away the thoroughfare’s customer base, during the mall’s novelty-phase).

    Also regrettable, at that time, was the demolition and levelling of historic Worcester Common – a miniature version of Boston Common (adorned with monuments, venerable old tombstones, and a rolling carpet of grass) – in favor of a barren, sun-scorched, concrete-framed reflecting pool (left with nothing worth reflecting, I might add).

    I don’t remember anything particularly menacing about the Galleria itself, throughout the ’70′s and into the ’80′s, but the desolate, poorly-lit garage was another matter, altogether. What probably contributed, greatly, to its crime-ridden reputation, was the word-of-mouth that circulated amongst wary suburbanites, in Paxton and beyond, when local architect and prominent citizen Armand Casavant, now deceased, was jumped and savagely beaten near his parked car. In fact, I doubt there was any meaningful security patrolling the bowels of those catacombs; the unattended walkways, linking each parking level to the mall structure, were constant invitations to bodily harm. Management, however, appeared to have been more concerned with the vital business of policing fare-collection at the vehicle exits.

    Actually, if Worcester just HAD to build an enclosed mall of that size, it baffles me why the nondescript Lincoln Plaza couldn’t have been sacrificed toward said purpose; there certainly would have been room enough, within the finished development, for R.H. White’s and the odd optician. So benign a solution, though, would have defeated urban renewal’s hellbent mission, which, in those days, was ploughing under America’s downtowns.

    And, speaking of urban “renewal,” fast-forward forty years, if you please, to solemnly reflect upon the fact that, under Hub Mayor Menincompoop’s greased-palm stewardship, Boston’s DTX is now a shabby shadow of what Main Street, Worcester, used to be (and is giving bombed-out Berlin – post-WWII – a run for its Hershey Bar-’n’-nylon coin-of-the-realm). Sobering, ain’t it?

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  36. What a loss to the present residents and the guests of the city. I grew up in Worcester My early days as a youth were spent at Worcester Center. No matter how much the current realestate mongules want us to believe what they are doing to the Worcester center is best for the City You have to wonder how many of them actually live in Worcester let alone work there. I have to wonder of all the jobs lost Thanks to Murray whos plans were far more than to help the city prosper. Jordan Levy was a noble guy he needs to run for Gov of Mass we need his voice on the hill. Anyhow lets look at what has become of Worcester. What was once known as the manufacturing capitol of the state of mass and actually most of the Entire nation. Now is reguarded as a city over plagued by Aids and many other venerial diseases. Worcester’s SBA is out of touch with reality. They dont want to assist the small businesses cause they get their funding from Wal mart. Remember SPAGS Please some one get one going again. White N Bagley One of my first real jobs as an adult. then the Dominos where Christos Pizza is on Cambridge st. Then there was McGoverns on Millbury St. So many chances then to make a go of life. NOW not so much. Wyman Gordan, Norton’s ComePlay products. Maybe the biggest flaw of the Worcester center that we can learn from is that they didnt showcase any businesses from worcester its self other than PineCroft. Maybe if they had Worcester made merchandise in the store the economy might have made them stronger also.

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  37. Worcester Center Mall would have been a great site to rehab it for the new Worcester Court House is stead of a parcel on main street that is small. Someone got paid off big time to lobby to put the new Court House where it is. It does not even have a law library in it. It costs the taxpayers more money for the state to rent across the street for space to put the library in it.

    Having the court house at the Galleria would have been great. It was so big that they could have had a nice big food court like before, a law library and lots of room to put lots of court rooms in there. There was plenty of parking for people that had court business. The loading area downstairs could have served as transport delivery area with holding cells there. You could have had a offices for state or local police there. What the hell the Registry of Deeds was located there why didn’t they just move the rest of it there too……….

    I will miss this building when it will be demolished. I think it would have been better to rehab it instead of building more office space & more apartments for living. A lot of offices moved out of downtown and do we really need more housing in this city. They have rehab other old buildings in the city and they are empty. What are the City Council & the City Manager thinking????

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  38. Sad to say: demolition of the mall commenced in Summer 2011. Nearly the entire mall has been destroyed: 2/3 of the paking structure, the original Jordan Marsh store and the entire “Galleria” portion of the mall.

    Pix can be found at the New City Square website: http://www.newcitysquare.com.

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  39. The Telegram & Gazette has a CitySquare article today with some nice pictures of the inside of the gutted mall and parking garage:
    http://telegram.com/article/20120113/NEWS/101139549/1246

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  40. http://citysquareworcester.com/index.html

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  41. [...] and pathway disappeared when the old Galleria at Worcester Center went up in 1971. Years later, the Worcester Common Fashion Outlets took its place – and the view remained [...]

  42. I grew up going to the mall in the 70′s and 80′s My heart is still there in the very fond memories there with my girl Karen that I worked with at Memorial Hospital in 1980. The memories are mine to keep for ever. God Bless the Worcester Center Mall.

    James Farris ( Cleveland Ohio )

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  43. Here is that remembrance you requested from the telegram.

    http://cf.telegram.com/submissions/gonebutnotforgotten.cfm?CATEGORY=TOWNS%20Worcester

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  44. City Square demolition and construction photos at Flickr

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/vista-dome/sets/72157626616638712/

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  45. [...] could get any album) located near the T&G, as well as the Jordan Marsh record department in the Worcester Center Galleria, and several small shops scattered up and down Main St. I  Googled Arnold’s and found the [...]

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