New Bedford’s Downtown Appearance, Then and Now
It's not something that most people take notice of because it doesn't happen overnight. Similar to the way a continuous drip of water can form canyons, New Bedford's downtown has slowly but surely undergone a transformation.
Make no mistake about it, this was not accidental. Both Mayor Scott Lang and Mayor Jon Mitchell made the redevelopment of New Bedford's waterfront a priority. At times, that priority was almost to the chagrin of residents in other parts of the city that complain there is more to New Bedford than its waterfront.
Regardless, a pretty remarkable transformation has occurred over the part 10-15 years in New Bedford. The most obvious is the heavy construction and reimagining of the Route 18 area. At the time, the construction felt like it would never end, but it did. What has been left behind really compliments the cobblestone district.
Look no further than Union Street for a pretty dramatic transformation. Places like Moby Dick Brewing Company, Play Arcade, and the addition to the New Bedford Whaling Museum have brought a more modern, active, touristy feel to Union Street. That feel spread over to North Water Street all the way back to Purchase Street.
While Purchase Street is still nowhere near it was in its heyday, it still has a much more lively energy than it had just 10 years ago.
While there are still vacant storefronts on Union Street, like the former Fins, the former Registry of Motor Vehicles, and a store that seems to be currently getting rehabbed, the overall vibe is so much better in New Bedford's downtown.