Sunday, November 27, 2011

Boston 1974 - 2


Last time we looked at a few Boston transit scenes as they were in 1974. You can't get these pictures any more. The vehicles have changed, and in part the city has changed too.

This time though we are going to see almost total change. We're going to North Station.

I walked up that way twice last month. I didn't have a map. I just wandered.

The first time I crossed Boston Common and saw people getting ready for a charity run, and I walked up into Beacon Hill on a street I can't remember, and back down, and then along some other street. Eventually I saw tracks going up onto an elevated structure and realized I was beyond North Station. I could see the elevated structure going out to Science Park. I went back east.

Another day I walked up Tremont Street and then through the modernist ugly City Hall block and came up to North Station from the south.

The Green and Orange lines used to come up out of the subway two blocks south of Causeway Street, six tracks wide, side by side, between Canal Street and Haverhill Street. The east pair, the Orange Line, came up to an elevated structure and turned right at Causeway Street. Of the left four tracks, the outer pair came up to another elevated structure and turned left at Causeway Street, and the middle pair came up to street level and ended at a loop on the south side of Causeway Street. It's all gone.

Here are two details of aerial views from the 1920s, from the Boston Public Library. I have added some labels.

It looked almost the same fifty years later. The same Boston Garden over North Station, and the same elevated structure.

Here's the Orange Line side.

Everything in this photograph is gone.

We're looking from the North Station platform of the Orange Line. That's the canopy at upper left. The two-car train has just left and made its right-angle right turn into Causeway Street, and it's passing under the Fitzgerald Expressway.

My note on the back says: Sign at bottom of picture notes new subway which will replace this elevated line within a few years. Actually it was only one year later. But that's only the elevated line.

The Orange Line went underground in 1975. The John F Fitzgerald Expressway was closed in 2003 and torn down, replaced by the Big Dig. I don't know when the tall building on the left side was demolished, but it's gone now, and so is the other building on the right, behind the expressway.

I am a liar. Causeway Street itself is still there. But everything else is gone.

From the same location, in 1974, if we turn our gaze to the left, we see this.

Again, almost everything in this photograph is gone.

A bit of the canopy of the Orange Line's North Station is at upper right. In the background is Boston Garden, built over the Boston and Maine Railroad's North Station, torn down in 1997. That's gone, replaced by a new TD Garden. The Green Line elevated was torn down in 2005. The buildings on the left might be there: I am not sure.

In 1974 the Green Line had two stations called North Station. The PCC car above is running south on the elevated line from Lechmere. It has already stopped at the elevated North Station, and made a right-angle turn from there to where we see it here. Right below it, not visible, was the other North Station.

My notes on the back say: Trolley car running toward the subway, after leaving North Station stop, which is partly visible in the rear around a right-angle turn. Sign, center, cautions trolley motormen to go slow on curve "to aid in reducing noise". I wonder how much that helped.

Here is the surface-level station below.

This was at street level, in pavement, but separated from street traffic by a fence. The car in view is facing the same direction as the one in the previous photo, but directly below it.

The car shown was a D car, the Riverside Line. It terminated at North Station in the summer of 1974. If you entered here, you walked across the loop track. You could walk over to that car and get on, or you could go up the stairs and follow a passageway over Causeway Street to go west on the other Green Line cars or north to Lechmere.

Everything seen here is gone now, except the taller building in the distance. I'm not sure what it is.

Here's the Green Line elevated station.

We're over Causeway Street, looking west. Boston Garden and North Station (B&M) would be on the right. The car in the first photo is coming from Lechmere.

The buildings on the left are still there. I saw them last month.

I took photos of the old and new City Hall. The old one was purchased by a developer and renovated. In 1974 I was sure I knew which one I liked better. I didn't pass by the old one last month but I did walk through the open plaza around the new one. My opinion has not changed.

I left Boston last month from South Station. I didn't take a picture of it in 1974, but I remember it as cavernous and dark and impossibly decrepit. The unwashed armpit of Boston. No, that was North Station. South Station was something worse.

At any rate, South Station today looks wonderful. It's light and open, and full of people. There are many food and other businesses in it, and they seemed busy, even at midday. I was glad to see it. I'm used to Penn Station, which is garbage. South Station is how it should be.



  1. Love these photos. Thanks.

  2. Loved the trolley station at North Station. Thanks for the old photos that brought back great memories.