Shopper's World opened on October 4,1951, making it one of the earliest suburban shopping malls in the country. This futuristic concept mall was designed to be the mecca of suburban shopping located between Boston and Worcester. The huge Jordan Marsh dome on the Southern end was the sole anchor store for the mall in the earliest days. The dome was visible from the air and was used on aeronautical charts as a visual reporting point for aircraft approaching Boston's Logan Airport.
Aside from Jordan Marsh at one end, there were two flanking 675'long, two-level wings separated by a 100' open courtyard. This was all surrounded by vast parking lots. In later years, The General Cinema, Stop & Shop, and then even later, the Jordan Marsh Basement Store were added to anchor the opposite Northern Side. As the mall grew, it basically took the shape of many newer malls, but remained roofless.
The mall's layout consisted of a two level, open-middle, long rectangle shape, however, by having no main roof over the mall, walking from store to store put you outside in the cold during the winter months. To keep you from getting wet in the rain, the mall designers covered the upper perimeter walkway by extending the roof line of the stores all the way around the mall. The lower walkway was naturally covered as well by the top one. The upper level walkways included three connecting middle bridges so shoppers wouldn't have to walk down to the lower level and all the way around the perimeter of the mall just to get to the other side. To walk between levels, shoppers used 3 large 20 foot wide paved ramps which were also covered and placed strategically so you were never too far from one.
Throughout the years, the courtyard area of the mall always had areas of interest and events going on. The southern end contained a permanent water fountain and a garden area with seasonal plantings of flowers and picnic tables. In the 1950s, several kiddie rides, including a small Ferris wheel, merry go round, and a boat ride, were set up in the North end of the courtyard.
There was always holiday decorations which included several giant wooden soldiers placed around the inner mall area and wonderful flower arrangements and banners. Children would always find Santa Clause and live reindeer in the courtyard in front of Jordan Marsh Basement Store every Christmas. Other zoo animals and exciting one-time attractions, like Flipper and spaceship rides, were also displayed throughout the year in this area. Automotive events, such as auto cross racing and motorcycle riding school took place out in the parking lot. In the 80's, the Gazebo area was erected where the kiddie rides once were. Rag time and brass bands would play regularly by the Gazebo in the 1980's and 90's. Shoppers World was also the first shopping center to have a musical water fountain show. The "Dancing Waters" attraction was based on the fountains at the 1939 New York World's Fair and was programmed to music and colored lights. There was also a train/tram that brought kids and parents around the mall.
In the 1960s thru 1990s, shoppers could visit stores including Jordan Marsh (with it's famous gigantic wrought-iron chandelier), Sears (which moved to the Natick Mall when built), Herman's World of Sporting Goods, (previously Conrad & Chandler Clothing), Bedworx, Woodbine, Lane Bryant, Nature Food Center, GNC, Pennant Fever, Stop & Shop (with it's rolling conveyor which brought groceries to the front door), Hobbytown, Sam Goody, Thomas Cook Travel, Hammets, Framingham Savings Bank, Kennedy's (a semi-anchor store), Sacketts, The Gate Post, The Zodiac Store, 579 Small, Joan & Ed's Deli, Bakers Shoe Warehouse, Jordan Marsh Basement Store (anchor store), Toys R Us, Friendly's Ice Cream, Fitts Photo Shop, Fannie Farmer Candies, Bretts Luggage & Gifts, Lerning Center, McCrory Department Store, Doctor's Pet Center, New York & Company, Lerner Shops, Hickory Farms, Gingiss Formalwear, Laurence Stationary, Casual Corner, The Roundup Restaurant (later Papa Ginos), Windsor Button, The Cobble Shop, and Radio Shack.
In the mid 1960s, the Jordan Marsh Basement Store was built at the North end. Jordan Marsh's original main store (on the South end) had a rare shopping feature in its parking lot that faced Rt.9. There was a remote underground entry point in the middle of a vast parking lot. Shoppers could enter a small enclosure and walk down two flights of stairs to arrive in the lower level of the Jordan Marsh store. This entrance was near the Shopper's World bus stop. Jordan Marsh also had a separate Tire Store which stood alone across the street on the West side of the mall.
The original Shopper's World was torn down in 1994 to be rebuilt as a modern upscale strip mall. The new Shoppers World, featuring 77,8476 sqft of retail space, opened in 1996. Stores include Best Buy, Toys R Us, John Harvard's, Star Buck's, Barnes & Noble, and the like.