Boston Railroading Lives On...
I was digging around the net today, looking for some information regarding the history of
Located today at the corner of Causeway and Nashua Streets,
-The Boston and Maine Railroad, the major railway network of Boston and greater New England during the day
-The Boston and Lowell Railroad, one of the first railroads in North America and the first major one in New England
-The Eastern Railroad
-The Fitchburg Railroad, which ran through northern Massachusetts
Union Station was demolished in the late 1920s to give way to Boston Garden, built in 1928 and later home of the Boston Celtics and the famous parquet basketball court. Directly beneath thed arena was the replacement for Union Station, known as Boston North Station (to distinguish it from another major railroad hub in the city, South Station). Trains departed from beneath the arena and continued across the
and access to the arena in the same vicinity as a busy commuter train terminal waiting area!
North station today serves as the terminus for Amtrak's Downeaster' route, which follows the old Boston and Maine right-of-way to Portland, ME. The station's main use, however, is as the north terminal of the MBTA's extensive Commuter Rail system, which operates trains throughout eastern MA. While the station resembles nothing of the Union Station of 1893, the railroads of 110 years ago still are used as commuter rail routes, including the Fitchburg Line (Fitchburg RR), the Lowell Line (Boston and Lowell RR), the Newburyport/Rockport Lines, and the Haverill/Reading Lines.
Unlike North Station, Boston's South Station, built in 1899 at Summer Street and Atlantic Avenue, has suffered less alteration and destruction through the past century. At the time of its completion, it was touted as one of the largest railroad stations in the world, and certainly the busiest passenger station in North America. Similarly to Union Station, South Station replaced smaller passenger railroad terminal buildings in the immediate area:
-The New York and New England Railroad, a major link with Providence, RI and New York State
-The Old Colony Railroad, which ran to the tip of Cape Cod (Provincetown, MA)
-The Boston and Albany Railroad, connecting the city with Albany, New York (later to be absorbed by the New York Central RR)
-The Boston and Providence RR, Boston's major link with the Rhode Island capital
Over the years, South Station has lost its enormous train shed, giving way to an open-to-the-elements platform system. However, the original building has since been beautifully restored, with a new glassed-in waiting area directly behind the old station structure, inside of which are ticketing booths and other support services. Today, it serves as the terminus of Amtrak's Regional (to Newport News, VA), Acela Express (to Washington, DC), and Lake Shore Limited (to Chicago, IL) routes . The station also serves the extensive MBTA commuter rail system, including the Framingham/Worcester Line (the old Boston and Albany Railroad route), The Needham Line, the Franklin Line, the Attleboro/Stoughton Line (the old Boston and Providence RR route), the Middleborough/Lakeville Line (part of the Old Colony Railroad Route), and the Plymouth/Kingston Line (the old Old Colony Railroad Route).
It's sad to see that how railroad travel has decreased, at times precipitously, over the past century, but perhaps nowhere else but New England is railroading still very alive and central to interurban transportation. With the severe automobile traffic congestion in the Northeast, the inexpensive and efficient MBTA commuter rail system and Amtrak's northeastern routes have saved Boston's major train terminals from demolition and from being wiped off the map.