Malden Rocks and Walks

The last time I stepped foot in Malden, Massachusetts, I had barricaded myself in the house of my graduate school buddy, Charlie for a month in 1993.  We were studying for our doctoral comprehensive exams and we both passed!  Needless to say, lost in the works of 19th century sociological theorists, I experienced little of the town at that time.  

Here was my chance to experience Malden.  My daughter had a teen event at Boda Borg, a gaming quest experience at their facility downtown and I got to drive her there.  What an unanticipated delight!  Who would have thought that little Malden, Massachusetts could be such a happening place on a Sunday afternoon?  

Check out the Wayfinding signage telling pedestrians where to go and how long it takes to get there.  Worcester is supposed to have its own Wayfinding program in place soon.  Can you imagine how great it will be to have strategically placed signs indicating how to get to places such as Union Station, the library, the YWCA, City Hall, etc.  Wow!  We could step up the notch in walkability if we entice visitors to walk easily from Union Station to the Worcester Art Museum! Another cool thing about Malden's interior roads:  They are narrow, allow for metered parking on the side and have designated bike lanes.  Here is another difference from Worcester:  Malden did not seem to raze most of its historic, pre-automobile infrastructure in an urban renewal block-destroying frenzy.  So, it has probably been easier to re-create these kind of human-scaled, walkable spaces there.

Check out the Wayfinding signage telling pedestrians where to go and how long it takes to get there.  Worcester is supposed to have its own Wayfinding program in place soon.  Can you imagine how great it will be to have strategically placed signs indicating how to get to places such as Union Station, the library, the YWCA, City Hall, etc.  Wow!  We could step up the notch in walkability if we entice visitors to walk easily from Union Station to the Worcester Art Museum!

Another cool thing about Malden's interior roads:  They are narrow, allow for metered parking on the side and have designated bike lanes.  Here is another difference from Worcester:  Malden did not seem to raze most of its historic, pre-automobile infrastructure in an urban renewal block-destroying frenzy.  So, it has probably been easier to re-create these kind of human-scaled, walkable spaces there.

Malden is one of the most diverse small cities in Massachusetts.  In the Indian restaurant where I ate home-cooked dal and rice, one of the patrons there told me that students at the local high school hail from over thirty different countries and speak over twenty different languages. Twenty percent of the population is Asian, primarily from China and Vietnam.  I passed by at least ten Asian restaurants and juice bars on my walk.  An Indian grocer directed me to that Indian restaurant around the corner.  I saw women walking down the streets in hijab.  I saw other women in saris.  

Brick lined sidewalks, convenient benches,, wide sidewalks, interesting shop windows, street trees make this a walking downtown.  It was Sunday and I have to say that the downtown was hopping with life.

Brick lined sidewalks, convenient benches,, wide sidewalks, interesting shop windows, street trees make this a walking downtown.  It was Sunday and I have to say that the downtown was hopping with life.

Banners reading "Malden Work", "Malden Explore", "Malden Live", "Malden Work" hang from poles throughout the downtown.  Here are two reasons why Malden downtown is so active and vibrant: 1) People live here in densely packed buildings.  I saw high end luxury condo units, single family houses on the outskirts of the main square, tall, huge and ugly looking brick apartment buildings. There seemed to be a range of housing options from market rate to subsidized all parked downtown. 2) Transportation accessible:  Downtown Malden is right on the Orange line. Malden station is just two stops away from Assembly and a short ride to downtown Boston. Everything you might want is here in downtown -- groceries, churches, the Y, the train line.  I'm imagining it would be possible to live here without a car!

Banners reading "Malden Work", "Malden Explore", "Malden Live", "Malden Work" hang from poles throughout the downtown.  Here are two reasons why Malden downtown is so active and vibrant: 1) People live here in densely packed buildings.  I saw high end luxury condo units, single family houses on the outskirts of the main square, tall, huge and ugly looking brick apartment buildings. There seemed to be a range of housing options from market rate to subsidized all parked downtown. 2) Transportation accessible:  Downtown Malden is right on the Orange line. Malden station is just two stops away from Assembly and a short ride to downtown Boston. Everything you might want is here in downtown -- groceries, churches, the Y, the train line.  I'm imagining it would be possible to live here without a car!

People hanging out in a cafe on Pleasant Street.

People hanging out in a cafe on Pleasant Street.

Worcester, what lessons can we learn from Malden?