Sunday, August 19, 2012

Downtown Worcester then and now

Here is an interesting new feature that the Telegram and Gazette is featuring.  Of course I was so happy to see my beloved Denholms in the picture.

WORCESTER —  America’s love affair with the suburban mall changed the look of downtown's across the country.

Over time, consumers made it clear they preferred the convenience of one-stop shopping in a climate-controlled bazaar with food courts and other amenities.

No snow, rain or heat to contend with.

But this is May 25, 1971. Auburn Mall is just starting to excite people and the much-anticipated Worcester Galleria won’t open for another two months.

So shoppers patronize this stretch of boulevard for much of their non-food shopping needs. It’s filled with retailers, some of which have since passed into history.

1971 was an eventful year.

Charles Manson went to jail and former U.S. Army Lt. William Calley was sentenced for his involvement in the My Lai Massacre. The Apollo 14 crew played golf on the Moon and President Richard Nixon installed his secret taping system at the White House.

Ed Sullivan ended his successful television run and made way for the edgier comedy of Archie Bunker and his dysfunctional clan on “All in the Family.”

Shoppers stopped by Liggett’s drug store, browsed W.T. Grant’s for household goods and sat down at Kresge’s food counters for a hot dog, lime-rickey, root beer float or other treat.

Then, it might be a trip next door to upscale Denholm’s, “the Boston Store” that introduced Worcester to its first escalators.

Today the Telegram & Gazette and introduce a new weekly series, Then & Now. Go to to weigh in on where you think this historical photo was taken and leave a comment. Here’s a clue: This one mile shopping mecca also served as the transportation hub for local buses, much as it does today.

Return to print and online tomorrow for the answer and a photo of the locale today.

- Bronislaus B. Kush