Turn right and cross Broadway at the pedestrian light. This puts you on Lombardi Street, which passes under the highway. Keep walking through the tunnel to Mystic Avenue. Cross Mystic Avenue at the light. Look down Mystic Avenue in the direction of traffic flow. Mystic Avenue follows the route of an early toll road, the Medford Turnpike, built in 1804. Unlike the Middlesex Canal, the toll road was not an example of engineering skill; it was poorly constructed and later abandoned. The road crossed the canal a few hundred yards down from here.
Notice the solid wall on the left side of Mystic Avenue. Before the highway was built, a number of small streets ran through here, and there were houses and commercial buildings on both sides of the road. A large number of houses and businesses to the south of Mystic Avenue were removed for highway construction.
After the highway was built, the character of the area changed from mixed use to mostly commercial and industrial. On the other side of the Fellsway, a number of homes and businesses north of Mystic Avenue had to be removed to make way for I-93. In that case, highway construction caused the area north of Mystic Avenue to change from a residential/commercial mix to strictly residential.
Cross Assembly Square Drive and continue along Mystic Avenue, being careful of cars entering the parking lot in front of Home Depot. Cross New Road, and continue past the office building, following the road as it forks right for Middlesex Avenue. This whole area, from the former Circuit City to Loew’s, was formerly occupied by a vast First National Stores warehouse complex, built in 1927. When First National closed its operations in 1976, the city lost over a thousand jobs. New Road and Assembly Square Drive were laid out in 1979 as part of an effort to revitalize the area after the departure of First National and were closely tied to the development of the office building and theater. Home Depot and Circuit City came later, in 1991-1992.