Blue Line from Bowdoin-Maverick...

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Blue Line from Bowdoin-Maverick...

Postby Otto Vondrak » Wed Aug 25, 2004 2:13 pm

I see that the original Blue Line ran only from Bowdoin to Maverick... that doesn't seem very far to me... was the Blue Line planned to open in stages, or was it always intended to be that short? what is the time line of the Blue Line? I know the extension to Orient Heights and Wonderland came after MTA control... the Blue Line is the line I know the least about (never saw it, never rode it), so help me out here.

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Postby Ron Newman » Wed Aug 25, 2004 2:17 pm

In its first incarnation, what we now call the Blue Line was a trolley subway rather than rapid transit. Surface streetcars entered the tunnel at Maverick to go downtown.
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Postby astrosa » Wed Aug 25, 2004 2:25 pm

Keep in mind that the downtown-Maverick stretch isn't about distance - it's about crossing under the harbor. Without that underwater link (same goes for the various roadway tunnels) it's very difficult to get to East Boston from the rest of the city.

An interesting tidbit is that when they first converted the subway from trolleys to rapid transit, it was tricky because the tunnel had been sized to fit small streetcars. As a result, I believe the new rapid transit cars had to be ordered to certain specifications in order to fit in the tunnel. Don't have any books in front of me to confirm that, though.
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Postby BC Eagle » Wed Aug 25, 2004 2:30 pm

The main purpose of the original Blue Line was to cross Boston Harbor to East Boston. The stretch of tunnel between Aquarium and Maverick is quite a distance because this is the portion that travels under water. Ferry operators were very disgruntled when the Blue Line tunnel opened because it put them out of business. At the time the Blue Line opened, ferries were the only means of crossing the Harbor from Eastie to Boston proper. Also, the Blue Line tunnel was supposedly the first tunnel in America to pass under water.
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Postby MBTA1 » Wed Aug 25, 2004 3:01 pm

We're also leaving out that the line/s didn't end at Bowdoin, they could either loop at Bowdoin or continue to Charles Sq. and beyond via Cambridge St.
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Postby BigRock » Wed Aug 25, 2004 4:06 pm

Maybe we'll see Lynn-Alewife. ;)

Just kidding.

I would like to see Lynn-Charles/MGH. I think that is feasible in our lifetime.
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Postby MBTA1 » Wed Aug 25, 2004 4:47 pm

No, I mean it did used to go to Charles Sq. before it was converted to rapid transit, the portal was sealed in the early fiftys.
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Postby vanshnookenraggen » Wed Aug 25, 2004 5:41 pm

I know the dates but I know how it happened.

At first it was going to be just a trolly tunnel from East Boston to Court St. Court St station was right next to Scollay Sq station and was separated by a wall. The idea was to connect the two so you could go from, say, Huntington Ave to Day Sq in Easty.

When the Cambridge Subway (Red Line) was being designed there was another idea to connect the two so the Red Line wouldn't go to Park St but go to Scolly and then on to Maverick. That would have ment there would be only a Blue Line or only a Red Line. This never worked out because of differences between BERy and the Boston Transit Commission.

When the line was extended to Bowdoin, Court St was ripped up (literally) and Scollay Sq Under was the new transfer. There was a loop at Bowdoin and a portal just west that allowed trollies to travel to Cambridge. This was seldom used and covered up in the 1950's.

In 1924 the Blue Line was converted to rapid transit and a loop for trollies was built at Maverick. So yes, the Blue Line was very short but planners didn't know that the tunnel would be so popular.

BERy wanted to extened the line to Chelsea but nothing came of the plan and when the Narrow Guage RR was abandoned this gave a clear ROW for the Blue Line that we know today.

Did I miss anything? (Im sure I spelled somethings wrong but ehh)
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Postby MBTA1 » Wed Aug 25, 2004 6:00 pm

Didn't miss a thing that I can think of, but wasnt the original trolley incline at Maverick converted to an esculator (sp?).
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Postby astrosa » Thu Aug 26, 2004 1:16 am

MBTA1 wrote:Didn't miss a thing that I can think of, but wasnt the original trolley incline at Maverick converted to an esculator (sp?).


Well, sort of. I wouldn't say that it was literally converted to an escalator/stairs, but the current entrance to Maverick station occupies part of the space where the incline once was. And I think there's still part of an old trolley platform behind the wall inside the station, though you'll have to check NETransit to be sure.
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Postby octr202 » Thu Aug 26, 2004 7:01 am

While I can't even begin to attempt to find the documentation for all of this at this hour of the morning, and without proper amounts of coffee, the Blue Line was a streetcar subway until the mid-1920's. Bowdoin-Maverick was converted to subway (albeit with cars that could fit the confines of the streetcar tunnels). What I can't recall is whether there was a loop for subway cars at Maverick*, too, in addition to the one at Bowdoin. The Maverick station was a transfer point from streetcars to the subway for the ride downtown.

The interesting part about the portal to Cambridge St. in Boston is what it was used for after the subway conversion. There was no shop on the East Boston tunnel line -- cars were maintained at the Eliot Shops at Harvard Square. A track was maintained from the portal, down to Charles Circle, and I believe (this is where it gets fuzzy for me) that the track continued over to the Cambridge side, before joining the Cambridge-Dorchester subway tracks. Subway cars were moved late at night, with special trolley poles and jumper cables to power them off the overhead trolley wire while running down the street.

Also, I had read somewhere that the East Boston cars were known as the dirtiest cars on the BERy system -- aside from trips to the shop, they never went above ground, and almost never benefited from getting rained on!

Again, appologies for the lack of sources -- its too early to do a lot of research!

*Edit: NE Transit's abandoned stations page confirms that there was a loop to turn rapid transit cars at Maverick.
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Postby Ron Newman » Thu Aug 26, 2004 8:17 am

Is there still a loop to short-turn Blue Line cars at Maverick?
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Postby octr202 » Thu Aug 26, 2004 8:31 am

According to NETransit, its still there, abandoned, but hasn't been used since 1952. Not sure, but I'd guess that parts of it were probably sealed off in all the station reconstructions that took place as the modern Blue Line was created.
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Postby Robert Paniagua » Thu Aug 26, 2004 8:45 am

I think that loop cannot be used anymore since the tracks got ripped up, but I hope too that the Maverick Loop will be reactivated for emergencies since based on my own observations, the current Blue Line Fleet could make the tight loop turn also.
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Postby Charliemta » Thu Aug 26, 2004 12:06 pm

"....and I believe (this is where it gets fuzzy for me) that the track continued over to the Cambridge side, before joining the Cambridge-Dorchester subway tracks"

I'm not sure, but I read somewhere that the tracks from the Cambridge Street Blue Line portal continued west through the Charles Circle to the Longfellow Bridge, stayed on the dual roadways onto the bridge, then joined the Red Line tracks up on the bridge. That makes sense, because the grade difference between the roadways and tracks on the Longfellow Bridge is negligible.
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