For 43 years, this sign marked the entrance to Shoppers World.
Shoppers World was the first shopping mall to open east of the Rockies, beaten in the final stages of construction by a mall in the Pacific Northwest.
Newly completed construction of the Massachusetts Turnpike made the location easy to reach, so shoppers no longer felt confined to the city.
When its iconic dome was torn down in 1994 to give way to a modern shopping plaza, Framingham’s historic landmark was not fully forgotten. A new exhibit remembering the mall, “Shoppers World, 1951-1994,” can be now viewed at the Framingham History Center’s Edgell Memorial Library through Sept. 30. Next
This photo, taken on June 6, 1951, shows a preview of Shoppers World, hailed as the world's largest suburban retail shopping center, nearing completion on the Turnpike in Framingham.
The mall was then considered a “gigantic undertaking” housed 50 intergrated stores, 44 of which opened simultaneously on September 15. The additional six estab lishments opened a short time later. Next
Shoppers World’s owners were afraid that people wouldn’t show up to the store’s opening because it was on the day of the first game of the World Series. They enlisted a corps of Ask Me girls, pictured here, equipped with large transistor radios the size of laptop computers to provide up-to-the-second World Series scores for shoppers.
Maybe it was the fact that the Red Sox were not in that series or maybe it really was the Ask Me girls, but 25,000 people showed up that day, according to news accounts. Next
The concept of an all-encompassing shopping mall, with anchor stores like Jordan Marsh, smaller shops, restaurants, a cinema, and community gathering areas, all protected from the elements by a gigantic dome, was brand-new at the time.
Shoppers World attracted visitors not only for the shopping but for attractions, shows, and community gathering. Next
When the dome was torn down in 1994 to make room for what is now a modern shopping plaza bearing the same name, only two people showed up to watch, according to Ruth Colson. It was Colson and a friend she took along.
Colson, who worked at Jordan Marsh for 20 years, took this picture as the dome was being flattened.
Annie Murphy, executive director of the Framingham History Center, described what the current exhibition includes:
“A model of the layout of Shoppers World; boxes from Jordan Marsh, as well as old charge cards and employee name tags from the store; wooden soldiers that were brought out every year for the mall’s holiday decor; buttons from the Windsor button shops; posters and flyers advertising Shoppers World; photos of some of the major events that went on there.” Next
The exhibition also includes what many see as the eternal symbol of Shoppers World: its neon sign.
The Framingham History Center illuminated the sign in front of 200 spectators to kick off the exhibit last month, pictured above.
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