Prior to European colonization, the region around Framingham was inhabited by the indigenousNipmuc. They lived in settlements established alongside the Washakamaug (“eel fishing place”) or what is today called Farm Pond. The Nipmuc people used game management techniques through the hunting of deer and beaver, fishing in ponds and streams, as well as established growing areas for the Three Sisters (squash, corn, beans) in the nearby hills. The ancient Native trail later known as the Old Connecticut Path also ran through this area. During the initial period of colonization of the region by Puritan settlers, the Nipmuc suffered a rapid decline in population due to the introduction of foreign infectious diseases to which they had no immunity and violence related to settler colonialism. Many of the Nipmuc people were forced into praying towns including nearby Natick.
The first European settler in the area was John Stone who established a farm on the west bank of the Sudbury River in 1647. In 1660, Thomas Danforth, an official of the Bay Colony received a grant of land at "Danforth's Farms" and began to accumulate over 15,000 acres (100 km2).
Between 1675-1676, King Philip's War created great tensions between English settlers and the Nipmuc people in the area. During this time, Nipmuc leader Tantamous, who lived on Nobscot Hill and who resisted Christianization by the English, was arrested with his family members and other Nipmuc men by the colonial government in 1676 for what the colony deemed treason and they were incarcerated on Deer Island. He would escape, be recaptured, and later hung on Boston Common. In January 1676, a group of Nipmuc men went to the Eames family homestead to demand that they return a stolen corn harvest. Although the historical record is unclear as to the exact details, this would result in an outbreak of violence between the Nipmuc men and the Eames family, where Mary Eames and five children were killed.
As more settlers moved to the town, it would be named Framlingham after Thomas Danforth's hometown in England. Over time, Thomas Danforth strenuously resisted petitions for incorporation of the town, which was officially incorporated in 1700, following his death the previous year. Why the "L" was dropped from the new town's name is not known. The first church was organized in 1701, the first teacher was hired in 1706, and the first permanent schoolhouse was built in 1716.
On February 22, 1775, the British general Thomas Gage sent two officers and an enlisted man out of Boston to survey the route to Worcester, Massachusetts. In Framingham, those spies stopped at Buckminster's Tavern. They watched the town militia muster outside the building, impressed with the men's numbers but not their discipline. Though "the whole company" came into the tavern after their drill, the officers remained undetected and continued on their mission the next day. Gage did not order a march along that route, instead ordering troops to Concord, Massachusetts, on April 18–19. Framingham sent two militia companies totaling about 130 men into the Battles of Lexington and Concord that followed; one of those men was wounded.
During the post-World War II baby boom, Framingham, like many other suburban areas, experienced a large increase in population and housing. Much of the housing constructed during that time consisted of split-level and ranch-style houses.
In 2000, Framingham celebrated its Tercentennial. Framingham soon rose to become the largest town in Massachusetts, commonly referred to by the people of Framingham as "The largest town in the country." Framingham had attempted to become a city on three prior occasions 1993, 1997, and 2013, all of which were rejected by the people of Framingham. However, on January 1, 2018, Framingham became a city and Yvonne M. Spicer was inaugurated as its first mayor, thus becoming the first popularly elected African-American female mayor in Massachusetts.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has an area of 26.4 square miles (68.5 km2). 25.1 square miles (65.1 km2) of it is land and 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2) of it (4.99%) is water.
Of the 26,173 households, 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.2% were headed by married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.8% were non-families. 28.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.0% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47, and the average family size was 3.03.
As of 2010, 20.9% of the population were under the age of 18, 9.8% were from 18 to 24, 30.0% were from 25 to 44, 25.8% were from 45 to 64, and 13.6% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.8 males.
In 2017, the estimated median income for a household in the city was $84,050, and the median income for a family was $101,078. Male full-time workers had a median income of $61,659, versus $54,714 for females. The per capita income for the city was $38,917. About 7.5% of families and 11.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.7% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.
Framingham's Home Rule Charter was approved by voters on April 4, 2017, and took effect on January 1, 2018. On that date, Yvonne M. Spicer was inaugurated as Framingham's first mayor.
Elections are held in November of odd-numbered years, to elect a full-time mayor serving a four-year term, and an 11-member city council comprising nine district members serving two-year terms, and two at-large members serving four-year terms. The mayor replaced the Board of Selectmen as the chief executive, and the City Council replaced Representative Town Meeting as the legislative body. The Mayor and at-large-councilors are limited to a maximum of three consecutive terms in office and district councilors are limited to six consecutive terms in office.
The School Committee has ten members: one elected from each of the nine districts, serving two-year terms, and the mayor, who serves as a tenth member and may only vote to break a tie.
The Board of Library Trustees and the Board of Cemetery Trustees have also elected positions serving for four-year terms, with half the membership elected at alternating municipal elections.
The Charter provides for an automatic review of the Charter five years after its adoption and periodically thereafter.
The Framingham School Department can trace its roots back to 1706 when the town hired its first schoolmaster, Deacon Joshua Hemenway. Although Framingham had its first schoolmaster, it did not get its own public school building until 1716. The first high school, the Framingham Academy, opened its doors in 1792; however, this school was eventually closed due to financing issues and the legality of the town providing funds for a private school. The first town-operated high school opened in 1852 and has been in operation continuously in numerous locations throughout the town.
Framingham has 14 public schools which are part of the Framingham Public School District. This includes Framingham High School, three middle schools (Walsh, Fuller, and Cameron), nine elementary schools (Barbieri, Brophy, Dunning, Hemenway, King, McCarthy, Potter Road, Stapleton, Harmony Grove), and the Blocks Pre-School. The school district's main offices are located in the Fuller Administration Building on Flagg Drive with additional offices at the King School on Water Street. The city also has a regional vocational high school and one regional charter school. Framingham is also home to several private schools, including Summit Montessori School, the Sudbury Valley School, one parochial school, one Jewish day school, and several specialty schools.
Since 1998, when Framingham began upgrading its schools, it has performed major renovations to Cameron, Wilson, McCarthy, and Framingham High School. Two public school buildings that were mothballed due to financial issues or population drops have been leased to the Metrowest Jewish Day School (at the former Juniper Hill Elementary) and Mass Bay Community College (at the former Farley Middle school). Several schools that were no longer being used were sold off, including Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Washington.
Framingham is approximately halfway between Worcester, the commercial center of Central Massachusetts, and Boston, New England's leading port and metropolitan area. Rail and highway facilities connect these major centers and other communities in the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area.
Direct rail service to Boston and Chicago via Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited, as well as to all other points on the Amtrak network via a connection in another city.
MBTA commuter rail service is available to South Station and Back Bay Station, Boston, via the MBTA's Framingham/Worcester Line, which connects South Station in Boston and Union Station in Worcester. Travel time to Back Bay Station is 42–45 minutes. It was called the Framingham Commuter Rail Line, as Framingham was the end of the line, until rail traffic was expanded to Worcester in 1996. The line also serves Newton, Wellesley, Natick, Ashland, Southborough, Westborough, and Grafton.
MassDOT operates a free park and ride facility at the parking lot at the intersection of Flutie Pass and East Road on the south side of Shoppers' World Mall.
MassDOT also operates a free park and ride facility at a parking lot adjacent to exit 12 of the Massachusetts Turnpike, across from California Avenue on the west side of Framingham.
Framingham's economy is predominantly derived from retail and office complexes. There are scatterings of small manufacturing facilities and commercial services such as plumbing, mechanical and electrical expected to be found in communities of its size. Framingham has three major business districts within the city, The "Golden Triangle", Downtown/South Framingham, and West Framingham. Additionally, there are several smaller business hubs in the villages of Framingham Center, Saxonville, Nobscot, and along the Route 9 corridor.
The Golden Triangle was originally a three square mile district on the eastern side of Framingham, bordered by Worcester Rd. (Route 9), Cochituate Rd. (Route 30), and Speen Street in Natick. In 1993, the area began to expand beyond the borders of the triangle with construction of a BJ's Wholesale Club and a Super Stop & Shop just north of Route 30. It now includes the original area plus parts of Old Connecticut Path., Concord St. (Route 126), and Speen St. north of Route 30. Because of the size and complexity of this area, Framingham and Natick cooperatively operate it as a single distinct district with similar zoning. The area is one of the largest shopping districts in New England.
The area was formed with the construction of Shoppers World in 1951. Shoppers' World was a large open air shopping mall, the second in the US and the first east of the Mississippi River. The mall drew many other retail construction projects to the area, including Marshalls (1961, rebuilt as Bed, Bath and Beyond 1997),Caldor (1966, Rebuilt as Wal-Mart in 2002),Bradlees (1960s, rebuilt as Kohl's in 2002), the Route 30 Mall (1970), an AMC Framingham 15, the Framingham Mall (1978, rebuilt 2000), and Lowe's (formerly the Verizon Building, 2006). Complementary developments in Natick include the Natick Mall (1966, rebuilt in 1991, expanded 2007 & renamed Natick Collection), Sherwood Plaza (1960), Cloverleaf Marketplace (1978), and the Home Depot. In 1994, Shoppers' World was demolished and replaced with a strip mall named Shoppers World. There are also seven hotels and two car dealerships located within the Triangle.
In addition to retail properties, there are large office developments in the area including several companies headquartered in the triangle; the world headquarters of TJX is at the junction of Route 30 and Speen St, as is the main office of IDG and IDC. The American Cancer Society has an office in Framingham. A Carling Brewery began operations in 1956, ending in 1975. Their buildings later housed Prime Computer and Boston Scientific before demolition in 2018 for a new MathWorks facility.Sealtest had a manufacturing facility in Framingham which was used by Breyers from 1964 to 2011
Downtown and South Framingham
The downtown area is between Memorial Square, formed by the intersection of Concord St. and Union Ave., to the north, and its mirror intersection at the junction of Irving St. and Hollis St. on the south end. The area is bisected by Waverly St. (Route 135) and the MBTACommuter Rail tracks. The anchoring structure of Downtown is the city hall, The Memorial Building. From 2015 to 2016, the whole area underwent a multimillion-dollar reconstruction of the intersection of Union Ave. and Concord St. that replaced the traffic circle with a signal-controlled intersection. Additional lights were installed at the Irving St./Hollis St. intersection, while older signals in the area were upgraded. All sidewalks in the area were to be replaced, lighting upgraded, and new amenities such as seating and bicycle racks were also installed. The project was scheduled to begin in 2012 but has been delayed to 2014–2015. Further delays pushed the project into 2015 due to needed electrical utility upgrades and replacement.
South Framingham became the commercial center of the town with the advent of the railroad in the 1880s. It eventually came to house Dennison Manufacturing and the former General MotorsFramingham Assembly plant, but the area underwent a financial downturn after the closure of these facilities during the late 1980s. An influx of Hispanic and Brazilian immigrants helped to revitalize the district starting in the early 2000s. Along with Brazilian and Spanish oriented retail shops, there are restaurants, legal and financial services, the city offices and library, police headquarters, a performing arts center, and the local branch of the Social Security Administration. Several Asian and Indian stores and restaurants add to the rich ethnic flavor of the area, and many small businesses, restaurants and automotive-oriented shops line Waverly St. from Natick in east to Winter St. in the west.
In 2006, the Fitts Market & Hemenway buildings façades underwent a restoration project; these newly renovated structures received a 2006 Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award in the Restoration and Rehabilitation Category. In addition, several retail and housing projects involving the Arcade Building and the former Dennison Building Complex are in the planning stages or under construction.
The business section on the West Side of Framingham runs primarily along Route 9, starting at Temple St., and is dominated by two large office/industrial parks: the Framingham Industrial Park on the north side of Route 9 and another park on the south side, both on the Framingham/Ashland/Southborough border. Bose, Staples and Applause have their world headquarters in these parks, as does convenience store chain Cumberland Farms; in addition, Netezza, Genzyme, Capital One, CA Technologies, ITT Tech and the local paper, The MetroWest Daily News, all have major facilities there. Two of Framingham's seven major auto dealerships are also in West Framingham: Ford and Toyota/Scion.
The large tracts of multi-story apartment and condominium complexes line both sides of Route 9 from Temple St. to the industrial parks. These buildings represent the majority of Framingham's multi-family dwellings, and along with the business complexes, helped create a large network of support services on the West Side: Framingham's second Super Stop & Shop supermarket, dozens of restaurants and pubs, Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center and Residence Inn by Marriott hotels and a large day-care facility all are in the two-mile (3 km) section of Route 9 from Temple St. to Ashland.
Villages and Route 9
The Framingham Centre Common Historic District is the city's physical and historic center. Formed at the junctions of Worcester Rd. (Route 9), Pleasant St. (Route 30), High St., Main St. and Edgell Rd. the dominating presence is Framingham State University. The school has several thousand students, about one third of whom live on campus. In the late 1960s, MassHighway replaced the intersection with an overpass, depressing Route 9 below the local roads, and destroying the south half of the old Center retail district. The remaining half houses several small stores, restaurants, realtors and legal offices. The old Boston and Worcester Street Railway depot, on the east side of the center, was converted into a strip mall in the early 1980s and houses the Center Postal Station (01703) and several small stores. The center is rounded out by One and Two Edgell Rd. (two small retail/office buildings), the historic village hall, the Jonathan Maynard Building (a former school, now a part of the Framingham State University campus which houses the Danforth Art Museum  ), the Framingham History Center (formerly the Framingham Historical Society and Museum), several banks, a Chinese restaurant, the American Medical Response paramedic station and McCarthy Office Building.
The village of Nobscot, at the intersection of Water St., Edmands Rd. and Edgell Rd. near Nobscot Hill, and the Pinefield/Saxonville villages, located where Concord St., Water St., and Central St. intersect, are home to several small office buildings, strip malls and gas stations. in 2016, the town moved its satellite branch of the public library named for Christa McAuliffe from Saxonville to a new facility across from the Hemenway School in Nobscot. Saxonville is the home of the former Roxbury Carpet Company mill complex buildings (originally powered by the adjoining Sudbury River), now an industrial park, and is one of the city's historical districts.
In addition the section of Route 9 from the Route 126 overpass to the Main St./Edgell Rd. beetleback in Framingham Center is heavily developed. Three car dealerships, Acura, Chevrolet and Hyundai, several strip malls of varying sizes, many small apartment complexes, several small office complexes and other small shops and restaurants make Route 9 the main commercial thoroughfare in Framingham.
Finally, there are several other small retail areas and facilities throughout the city, e.g. near Mt Wayte Ave. and Franklin St.; the intersection of Concord St. and Hartford St.; and along School St., near Hamilton St.
Framingham High School has a student-run television station, FHS-TV, that broadcasts locally; "Flyer News", its morning news program, has won 11 National High School Emmy Awards.
The City of Framingham operates the Government Channel shown on Comcast channel 99, RCN 13/HD613, and Verizon 42. The Government Channel operation provides programming sponsored by or for the City of Framingham. Commission meetings are cablecast live to inform residents and encourage participation in local government. Some of the programming provided, keeps residents abreast of road closings, construction updates, recycling efforts, public safety information, and special events in the community. The Government Channel is committed to making local government more accessible to all residents.
WSRO (AM 650) is an AM broadcasting station featuring Portuguese-language programming that leases studio and tower space from WXKS. Owned by the Langer Broadcasting Group, LLC and licensed to Natick, Massachusetts with studios on 100 Mount Wayte Ave in Framingham;
WQOM (AM 1060) is an AM broadcasting station featuring business talk radio programming that leases studio and tower space from WXKS. Owned by the Langer Broadcasting Group, LLC and licensed to Ashland, Massachusetts with studios on 100 Mount Wayte Ave in Framingham;
WDJM-FM (91.3 FM) is Framingham State University's FM broadcasting station that features an open format with progressive rock, hip-hop, metal and electronic music. It is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is licensed to Framingham, Massachusetts with studios at 100 State St. in Framingham;
Framingham features dozens of athletic fields and civic facilities spread throughout the city in schools and public parks. Many of the recreational facilities were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the New Deal.
Pike Haven Homestead was built in 1693 by Jeremiah Pike. He and his descendants were town and militia officers, yeomen, and makers of spinning wheels in the colonial period. This house had been occupied by the same family for eight generations.
Bowditch Field is Framingham's main athletic facility. It is on Union Avenue midway between Downtown and Framingham Center and was the main athletic facility for the town. It houses a large multi-purpose football stadium that included permanent bleachers on both sides of the field. There is still a baseball field, tennis courts, a track and field practice area, and the headquarters of the city Parks Department. Bowditch, along with Butterworth and Winch Parks, were all built during the Great Depression of the 1930s as WPA projects. It underwent a complete renovation/reconstruction in 2010. It is also the current site of Framingham High's graduation ceremony.
Butterworth Park is at the corner of Grant St and Arthur St. The park occupies a square block near downtown. The park has a baseball stadium that includes permanent bleachers on one side of the field, a basketball court and a tennis court. There is street parking on three sides. The bleachers have since been taken down.
Winch Park is the sister park to Butterworth and is in Saxonville next to the Framingham High School. It includes a baseball stadium that includes permanent bleachers on one side of the field, a basketball court, tennis courts and two large practice fields used for football, soccer and lacrosse. There are two additional multi-use fields on the other side of the high school's gymnasium building.
Callahan State Park is a large state park run by the DCR located in North Framingham in the city's northwest corner.
Cochituate State Park on Lake Cochituate has a small section in Framingham where Saxonville Beach is on the north western shore of the lake.
Danforth Park on Danforth Street, not far from the Wayland town line. The small park has playground with a half basketball court and a small baseball/kickball field.
Framingham Common is in Framingham Center in front of the old Town Hall along Edgell Road and Vernon Street. It features an outdoor stage for concerts and other fair weather events. It is a favorite of the students of Framingham State University, and the site of their annual graduation ceremonies.
Cushing Park on the South Side is a passive recreational area. The Framingham Peace and 9/11 Memorials are within the park across the street from Farm Pond, along with the Cushing Chapel. During World War II, the United States War Department constructed the Cushing General Hospital (named for Dr. Harvey Cushing) on this site; the chapel was part of the hospital complex. After the Korean War the hospital was sold to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for use as a geriatric hospital. After the hospital was closed in 1991, the land was converted into a 57-acre public park.
Long Athletic Complex On the south side of Framingham, near downtown the complex is the host of three little league baseball diamonds (Carter, Tusconi, Merloni), two Babe Ruth baseball fields (one being Long field), a softball field, outdoor basketball court, and two concession stands. The complex is surrounded by Keefe Tech High School, Loring Arena, and Barbari Elementary School. All of the fields have lights, and they host almost all of Framingham's Little League games. Long field is the host of JV high school games as well as most Framingham Babe Ruth games. The concession stands are both non-profit and all the money goes to the Framingham baseball league.
Framingham has about 400 acres (1.6 km2) of land that has been placed into public conservation.
The Wittenborg Woods was donated to the town in 1999 by Harriet Wittenborg. The properties were originally purchased from Henry Ford in the 1940s. Henry Ford owned all of the land around the Wayside Inn in nearby Sudbury, and Harriet (and her husband) were required to interview with Mr. Ford to determine if they would be good stewards of the land.
The Morency Woods is a parcel of land that is physically located in Natick, Massachusetts on the Framingham border, but which is owned by the City of Framingham. This forested land was used as a sewer bed up until the mid-1940s and was placed into conservation in 2001.
The Sudbury Valley Trustees has approximately 200 acres (0.8 km2) of land in North Framingham and along the Sudbury River in a private conservation trust.
Framingham Country Club, along Salem End Road on the South Side, is a private club that features an 18-hole course with 6,580 yards (6,017 m) of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72.
Millwood Farms Golf Course off Millwood Street was a public 14-hole, par 53 golf course. Originally a 9-hole course, it was expanded to 14 holes in the late 1970s. Attempts to purchase land for a full 18-hole were unsuccessful. Millwood Farms Golf Course was closed in 2018 to make way for a new housing development.
Nobscot Scout Reservation is a private facility owned by the Knox Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America and is open to the public during most of the year.
The city has several public beaches including Saxonville beach on Lake Cochituate, Washakum Beach on Lake Washakum, and the beach at Learned Pond.
The former Cushing hospital grounds serve as walking, biking, rollerblading, and picnic areas.
Farm Pond in South Framingham once used to host Fourth of July Fireworks, now is a picnic area.
Edward F. Loring Skating Arena, near Farm Pond at the corner of Fountain and Dudley Roads, is a municipal skating arena for area groups on a rental basis and public skating and stick time is available September through April.
The Cochituate Rail Trail is a 3.6 mile, multi-use trail for walkers, joggers and bikers that runs from the Village of Saxonville in Framingham to Natick Center. While the Framingham section opened in 2015, the entire length of the trail opened to the public in 2021.
^"1950 Census of Population"(PDF). Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21-10 and 21-11, Massachusetts Table 6. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930 to 1950. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1920 Census of Population"(PDF). Bureau of the Census. Number of Inhabitants, by Counties and Minor Civil Divisions. Pages 21-5 through 21-7. Massachusetts Table 2. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1920, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1890 Census of the Population"(PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. Pages 179 through 182. Massachusetts Table 5. Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions: 1880 and 1890. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1870 Census of the Population"(PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1872. Pages 217 through 220. Table IX. Population of Minor Civil Divisions, &c. Massachusetts. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1860 Census"(PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1864. Pages 220 through 226. State of Massachusetts Table No. 3. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1850 Census"(PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.