Once Crowded Streets: Downtown Worcester

May, 2007 - September, 2007 | Booth Gallery

Worcester’s historic downtown is a “golden triangle” in the heart of the city, bounded east-west by Main and Summer streets, and north-south by Lincoln Square and Madison Street. The anchor landmarks are the Court House at upper Main and City Hall on the Common.

For the first hundred years of Worcester’s existence, Main Street alone—from the Court House to the Common—actually defined downtown. But after the Blackstone Canal opened in 1828, commercial and institutional development pushed eastward to Summer Street. When the railroads came, beginning in 1835, the downtown business district extended further south of the Common.

Today downtown is busy with cars passing through en route to work or appointments during the week days, but it is largely deserted on the weekends, attesting to changes in living patterns, retail and business locations, transportation systems, and civic uses over time.

This exhibit provides a brief overview of early Worcester and then focuses on three pivotal dates—1850, 1900, and 1950—to explore the changing face of downtown. Highlighted in this exhibit are items from the collection that were manufactured and sold in downtown Worcester. Objects range from evening gowns to furniture to glassware to contemporary art. The ever changing story is told through these objects as well as historic photographs and advertisements.

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