New Bedford’s Weld Square Is Not Where You Think It Is
During the 1970s, folks began referring to the area surrounding the intersection of Weld Street and Purchase Street in New Bedford as Weld Square.
It is not Weld Square, and it never was.
The area incorrectly identified as Weld Square can include everything south of Weld Street to the Clasky Common Park.
A portion of this stretch of Purchase Street, from Linden Street south to Pope Street, is included in the Acushnet Heights Historic District, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Purchase Street north of Linden Street, including Weld Street, is not a part of Acushnet Heights.
Purchase Street south, from about the Car Barn Apartments, was once a nice working-class neighborhood with apartments and stores.
The area deteriorated quickly after the Urban Renewal of the 1960s and '70s. Crime, drug dealing, and prostitution moved in as residents and businesses moved out – and then the highway murders happened.
The media began referring to the area as Weld Square.
But Weld Square was a distant memory by then. Weld Square was east of Purchase Street where Route 18 is today.
Picture how Ashley Boulevard and Acushnet Avenue join at a point at Pa Raffa's in the North End. Imagine them forming a similar merge just south of Coggeshall Street.
That was Weld Square.
My earliest memories include walking in Weld Square with my mother. There were stores, movie theaters including the Rialto, bars, clubs, schools including the Washburn Street Elementary School, and plenty of homes.
Whenever your humble correspondent would give Mom and Dad a tough time, they would threaten to take me to see Officer Brown at the red brick Weld Square police station.
The real Weld Square is long gone and what is commonly referred to as Weld Square is a poor replacement.