From Emerald to Silver
It all began at the Emerald Square Mall in North Attleboro, which opened in 1989. Following the success of that project, its two developers, Pyramid Companies of Syracuse and New England Development and Management of Newton, were anxious to continue building shopping centers in the "underbuilt" South Shore region.
Instead of endeavoring on another shopping center together, the two developers started separate projects. Pyramid proposed the Silver City Galleria in Taunton, and New England Development proposed Bridgewater Crossroads, only 9 miles away at the intersection of Routes 24 and 495.
Fearful of the pollutants that would drain from the Crossroads parking lot into Lake Nippenicket across the street, Bridgewater residents successfully petitioned the state to designate the lake as a protected body of water.
Meanwhile, as Filene's, JCPenney, Sears, and Bradlees all committed to the Galleria, New England Development was left with few options for anchor stores, and the Crossroads project was abandoned.
Design for the Past and Future
Ground was broken in July of 1990, and the Silver City Galleria was largely complete by February of 1992. At two levels and 1.1 million square feet, the Galleria remains one of the largest malls in New England.
"Silver City" refers to Taunton's history as a silversmithing hub in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the architects carried that theme throughout the Galleria's design. Silver light fixtures and wall paneling dotted the central mall interior, while the walls and floors were clad in hues of silver and navy. The gabled roofline is a classic New England silhouette, and the vast angled skylight echoes those that capped older industrial buildings.
Balancing these historical nods were design touches that were decidedly modern at the time. Shades of pink and yellow warmed the otherwise cold color scheme, and vibrant neon accents lined ceilings, doorways, and skylights, particularly in the food court.
Dozens of palms dotted the Center Court, interior mall core, and food court, and hundreds of smaller plants filled flower boxes along the upper-level walkways.
An estimated 12,000 cars arrived at the Galleria on opening day, March 1, 1992, causing twenty-minute travel times from the Route 24 exit to the Galleria parking lot. With only 5,500 parking spaces to battle over, customers parked in fire lanes and construction zones.
Opening day guests included Hugh Millen of the New England Patriots, Miss America Carolyn Sapp, and Miss Massachusetts Melissa Bloemker.
The only major hiccup of the day was a false fire alarm started in Ruby Tuesday's, causing a six-minute siren throughout the mall that ended with applause.
A Loaded Event Calendar
The Galleria's early years were packed with events, from live music performances to community-focused parties, celebrity visits, and even a Richard Simmons infomercial taping.
1992 closed with a visit from Marky Mark and members of the Funky Bunch, who visited Lauriat's bookshop to sign copies of Wahlberg's new book. One customer even brought a pair of Calvin Klein underwear to be signed (will this person please identify him/herself?).