The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Monday, September 17, 2007

Tower Square

Forever Baystate West to some of us.

I was in downtown Springfield today and walking around I saw that Main Street was all torn up, beginning at the Hippodrome (Paramount) as part of some sort of sidewalk restoration project.

The street signs were literally lying in the streets and the traffic tie-ups were horrendous.

Down by the soon to be replaced federal courthouse, peace protesters were putting up signs.

Finally I came to Tower Square, which people of a certain age will always consider to be Baystate West. In the 1970's it was supposed to save downtown from decline. It failed in that mission, but this is what it looked like inside in its prime.

The website has this to say about it:

Baystate West, now re-named Tower Square, was a true urban mixed-use mall, built within a large city block in the center of downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, a smaller former industrial city of about 140,000 in western Massachusetts. Located on the Connecticut River about 40 miles north of Hartford, CT, Springfield is also the county seat of Hampden County and is home to several colleges, some major insurance and finance companies, still some major manufacturing and the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Originally conceived of in 1962 by a business consortium called Springfield CBD, Inc., Baystate West struggled to get off the ground until it was fully taken over and financed by the locally based, and deep-pocketed MassMutual Insurance Co. The mall, office tower and hotel finally opened in 1970 and for a time was Springfield's answer to the decline of its center city. Built for $52 million, Baystate West was located along Main Street on its eastern side and conveniently sited at the foot of the elegant Memorial Bridge connecting West Springfield with downtown, across the Connecticut River. Along its western side is a Marriott Hotel overlooking the river, and faces Interstate 91, which connects the city to the rest of New England. The architecture of the complex itself is early 70's modern, with clean lines and massing, it is a formidable precast concrete, brick and glass complex....

Even though the mall still exists and is open as a retail center, it really no longer functions as it once did as the center of the retail core of downtown, and you can question whether or not it qualifies as dead.....on life support maybe, but it still contains many local services and a good size food court, but it mostly serves only the downtown office population and a few residents.

I see a major renovation is underway at the location of the former Valley Photography Center. Once upon a time it was the headquarters of the now defunct Valley Bank.

The Photography Center has now moved upstairs near the food court. I wanted to check it out, but it's closed on Mondays.

Sadly closed for good is Gus and Paul's. They had great three alarm chili and it was a good place to people watch. Shady characters like the Ardolino brothers used to hold court there most every morning.

This business office is the location of the former Seven Kettles Restaurant, a cheap diner where in High School I used to hang out all the time.

God bless Edwards Books, which has stuck it out in that mall through thick and thin. If it ever closes that will be the sign that the mall has died for good.

Of course the mall won't die if people would start going there again. When was the last time you were there? Make plans to visit, if only for nostalgia's sake.

In the meantime, here's a little video of the intersection of Main and Boland (Vernon) Streets, as seen from the food court of Tower Square (Baystate West).

Man comes home, finds his wife with his friend in bed.
He shoots his friend and kills him.
Wife says, "If you keep on behaving like this, you'll lose ALL your friends"

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