Downtown & South Framingham
Downtown’s strong architectural character and commuter rail stop make it a natural hub of activity. In addition to being the town's center of government, Downtown boasts a variety of stores, a major regional art museum, and a number of acclaimed performing arts venues.
Downtown is historically Framingham's most ethnically diverse area with early waves of immigrants coming to work in factories along the railroad and more recent entrepreneurs revitalizing a downtown slowly decimated in the 70s and 80s by the dual trends of decline of manufacturing and the rise of retail malls and commercial strips.
Currently, Downtown is an eclectic mix of government agencies, cultural organizations, civic institutions, great ethnic food, and specialty retail shops. Retail and restaurants occupy the ground floors of the historic buildings along the main spine of Downtown. For more information on revitalization efforts check out the Framingham Downtown Renaissance
Beginning in the 1830s, the construction of rail lines and factories in South Framingham shifted the town's center of gravity away from the historic Framingham Centre and Town Common. By the 1870s, Framingham had become a significant rail hub for the northeast as reflected still today in the town seal. In 1854, William Lloyd Garrison
and Henry David Thoreau
gave famous speeches in denunciation of slavery at Harmony Grove on the east bank of Farm Pond adjacent to Downtown. In 1928, the new Town Hall was built at the intersection of Concord Street and Union Avenue and named the Memorial Building to honor Framingham's soldiers. Historically, one of Downtown Framingham’s largest manufacturing interests was the Dennison Manufacturing company, founded in 1844 as a jewelry and watch box manufacturer. It was closed in the 1990s and was recently converted into high-end loft condominiums and apartments.
In the last 50 years, downtown Framingham has experienced trends similar to many traditional downtowns: the movement of retailing to malls and commercial strips, the decline of traditional manufacturing employment, followed by renewed vitality with the arrival of entrepreneurial immigrants.