The large brick building on your right, starting at Foley Street, is the former Ford Motor assembly plant, the reason for the Assembly Square name. The Ford plant was built in 1926, at roughly the same time as McGrath Highway and the First National plant, on filled wetlands. The initiative for the development of the Ford and First National sites came from the Boston & Maine Railroad, which owned the land and built rail spurs to the plants. The arrival of the Ford plant was a major event, commemorated by a special supplement to the Somerville Journal. The building was notable for its use of natural daylight and was apparently also of interest from the outside. Older Somerville residents recall that a long line of windows along Middlesex Avenue allowed passersby to watch the progress of cars moving along the assembly line and also remember a well-tended landscape. The plant was expanded in 1937 but was shut down in 1958, after having been converted to production of the ill-fated Edsel. First National purchased the building later in 1958. The building was shortened when it was converted to the Assembly Square Mall in 1980, but the monitor roof was retained and used to light the Mall. Still later, the Assembly Square Mall was converted into a row of big box stores named the Assembly Square Marketplace.
At this point, the tour reaches a breaking point. You may choose to turn right at the end of the building, follow the building to its end, and turn right again if you would like a break. Refreshments are available at the Marketplace, or you may choose to catch a bus at the stop in front of the building and come back another time. To continue the tour, follow Middlesex Avenue to the Fellsway, bearing right at the intersection. To rejoin the tour after a break, follow the entrance drive to the Fellsway, being careful of cars.