Natick was founded as an Indian town, complete with its own Town Meeting - Speen Street gets its name from one of the leaders (and the first bible printed in British North America was John Eliot's translation into the Natick language). But even though the Natick Indians mostly sided with the British during King Philip's War (Captain Tom's Hill, now home to Jordan's Furniture, is named for an Indian who spied for the English), the revenge-mad colonial legislature exiled the town to treeless Deer Island, where most of the residents died over that winter.
Guy gets taken in by old TV-on-the-loading-dock scam - or, rather, the old 13-TVs-on-the-loading-dock scam (and he drove all the way up from Connecticut with $9,800).
Dave reports from the Natick Collection of Overpriced Clothing that a stern woman with a notebook came up to him as he was taking a photo and admonished him that "taking pictures of the mall is not allowed."
What's Natick Mall management hiding? Could it be they don't want you to learn their dark secrets, like that they haven't fully unraveled the yarn that's supposed to be holding up the ceiling?
Dare I admit it? We actually went to the Natick Mall yesterday. My basic reaction: It's a tarted-up paean to American consumerism. If you like the Atrium or Chestnut Hill, you'll love this joint - especially the new wing with the extra-pretentious stores and the lady playing a harp. Indeed, as we were eating a gelato on the floor above her, the guy behind us was gushing: "The Atrium looks like a dump compared to this place."
Get a grip, bub. In any case: The "old" section, basically from Macy's to Sears, is an updated, yupped up mall (they replaced the ice-cream stand at the food court with a sushi bar). Thank God: Spencer Gifts (now just Spencer's) is still there! Plus, they stuck on a JC Penney, just in case Sears no longer does it for you.
The new section, which extends perpendicularly from the center of the old one, is where all the real money shops. To me, it looks like the world's fanciest airport terminal, only with expensive stores instead of airplane seating areas. It's actually kind of dramatic standing where the old mall used to end and looking toward (the still not open) Neiman-Marcus. Then you notice the birch trees are fake and the plush white seats are already getting dirty.
But I'm no shopaholic (Greta, happy with an entire wing of stores for kids and tweeners, like Gymboree and Limited Too, kept asking me what I wanted, and I kept saying "to go home," so no, don't ask me along on any all-day shopping trips, just sayin'). More reactions:
After gacking her way through a Globe report on the orgasmically wonderful Natick Mall (which will feature "a rolling gold sign that is inspired, designers say, by the folds of a women's skirt") and all the things it's doing for Natick, Sharon Machlis Gartenberg wonders when anybody's going to start thinking about the new mega-mall's impact on neighboring Framingham:
... Traffic will obviously affect Framingham roads, unless all the SUVs and other vehicles coming from points west are helicoptered in. Residents and workers getting on and off Mass Pike exit 13 will deal with the extra traffic as much as those in Natick. If there is an impact on local merchants, it will be felt in downtown Framingham and Framingham Center as well as Natick. ...
Sharon Gartenberg wishes that Nouvelle at Natick, a.k.a. the luxury condos above the new wing of the Natick Mall, would stop calling itself "urban living in the more pastoral settings of Boston's MetroWest suburbs:"
... This is not urban living in the traditional American sense - where one of the key attractions is fabulous shared public space, integrated into the larger community. The appeal of living on Beacon Hill or Back Bay in Boston or in Manhattan includes not only stores and restaurants, but also cultural attractions like symphony, opera, ballet and museums, as well as the architecture, parks and public streetscapes. It's being able to walk out the door and experience all the excitement that a city has to offer.
"Nouvelle," however, offers only the most materialistic of these components â€” stores and restaurants â€” in what could be considered "public" space, the privately owned enclosed mall where non-residents are allowed to enter. ...
After you read her complete rant, drive over to Framingham/Natick Retail, an interesting site chronicling the history and ongoing development of the Golden Triangle - the retail area bounded by Rtes. 9 and 30 and Speen Street on the Natick/Framingham line.
Natick Mall was getting just a bit too big for its britches. With its new mega-expansion nearing completiion, mall owners figured they'd just drop the "Mall" and call the whole thing "Natick," the Globe reports.
Natick officials, who just wound up a 10-year struggle with Brockton over which place the state legislature would call "Home of Champions" (a compromise for the ages was reached), were in no mood for name shennanigans, the Globe says:
"The new mall is many things," said Joshua Ostroff, a member of the Natick Board of Selectmen. "It is residents, it's shopping, it's a transportation hub. But it's not the town of Natick."
Remnants of the battle can still be seen on the mall Web site:
Sharon complains about plans for the new mega-uber-giganto Natick Mall complex:
Here in the "Golden Triangle" west of Boston, the proposed Natick Mall expansion is planned as a more-of-the-same-old enclosed shopping mall experience, sited in a particularly pedestrian unappealing way surrounded, of course, by a vast sea of asphalt. Even existing retailers in the space are complaining that the plan to build a separate addition is pedestrian-hostile, offering a potentially dangerous and certainly off-putting way of getting from the new to old shopping areas.
Elsewhere in America, though, the big trend is away from enclosed malls in favor of so-called "lifestyle centers" â€“ an open-air shopping experience that tries to create a town-square-like "sense of place" and ambiance that encourages strolling and lingering. ...
Hmm, you mean just like, oh, Shoppers World in Framingham, circa 1980? Before they turned it into a giant parking lot surrounded by big ugly concrete boxes with those stupid green faux canopy things that look more like guard towers at a maximum-security prison (whose motto should be "Shop or Die!")?