external image 100_3673.jpgPublic Square is an open mall that lies in the center of Watertown. The square is a designated historic site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Description


The square is actually rectangular in shape, and buildings line all four sides. Traffic follows a pattern that circles the large oval park in the square's center. Six of Watertown's busiest streets (Arsenal, Court, Mill, State, Franklin and Washington) intersect at the square, making it a heavily travelled thoroughfare.


external image 100_3670.jpgPublic Square's main architectural character lies in the many 19th and early 20th century buildings that stand today. A few modern structures built within the last 50 years blend in with these older buildings.

History


(For a more in depth history of the square, see Public Square History)
(For a listing of significant dates and events, see Public Square Timeline)


external image 100_3679.jpgWatertown's first settlements in 1800 were on what is today Public Square's west end. In 1805, continued settlement led land owners to deed the land the square now occupies for public use. Originally called "The Mall", the square quickly became the center of Watertown's business and commerce. Fire destroyed much of the square in 1849, but quick rebuilding insured that it would remain the heart of Watertown's business and social life for over a century.

external image 100_379.jpgDeclining industrial wealth that plagued Watertown in the latter half of the 20th century affected the square, as did modern retail development on outter Arsenal Street during the 1980's. Since then, many businesses on Public Square have struggled to remain viable, while the square's infrastructure and architectural integrity continued to decline.

Today


external image 100_3665.jpg(For current photos see Public Square Photo Gallery. For historic photos, visit the Public Square History pages).

Public Square today is at a crossroads. Pride in the square as Watertown's historic center, coupled with making the square economically viable to modern consumers has been the goal of many business and government leaders. The Streetscape Project, which includes a complete redesign and beautification of Public Square, is hoped to help reverse the square's fortunes and hopefully bring more consumers and development.

Notable Structures on Public Square


(List is incomplete and needs additions. See also Historic Structures in Watertown)

Paddock Building (b. 1850)
Paddock Arcade (b. 1850)
Woolworth Building (b. 1921)
Cam’s Pizzeria, formerly part of the Iron Block (b. 1850)
Woodruff Professional Building (b. 1996)
Lincoln Building (b. 1870, remodeled 1908)
Buck Building (b. 1870)
First Baptist Church (b. 1891)
Henry Keep Apartments (b. 1991)
Franklin Building (b. 1906)
Commerce Building (b. 1924)
Hibbard Building (b. 1860’s)
Bonadio Building (b. 1900)
YMCA (b. 1913)

Current Businesses and Organizations


For a list of current Public Square businesses, see Watertown Streets.

External Links



Downtown Business Association
For a panoramic photo with sound of the Square click here and here.
Public Square Webcam at the Paddock Arcade by H20 Media
Another Public Square Webcam at Pro-Soft on the south side of Public Square