Today, my son Peter & I took a tour of South Station, a continuing education for members of Boston By Foot (one of the reasons why you should become a member). I love railroad stations so it was fun to poke around and see old artifacts, granite pilings, and even the exclusive Acela waiting room.
Unfortunately, railway stations are crowded, noisy places so I didn’t learn much to report back. South Station is also difficult to photograph. There are so many people and iPod ads in the way. The highlight of the tour for me was a story from a BBF docent who remembers riding in his friend’s aunt’s private train to go to New York for Mets’ games (the aunt of course was Joan Payson). There’s a good history of the building online at the South Station website.
I thought about catching the commuter train to Forest Hills, but just missed it. Instead we walked along the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway and enjoyed the Greenway’s ignagural event. It strikes me that the Greenway makes an excellent location for a street fair, so I hope other events like this will be held in the future. Peter enjoyed boogieing in the grass to the Jewish-Cuban sounds of Odessa Havana. After that we went home for a nap.
I arrived early for a tour in Ashmont and with nothing better to do, I got my geek on and rode the Mattapan-Ashmont High Speed Trolley Line. I’ve lived in Boston for nearly ten years and have wanted to ride this special trolley line for almost as long. Granted, the previous time I tried the line was closed for the day, and it was closed completely for renovation for a couple of years, but I’ve been delinquent regardless.
What makes the line special to transit geeks like myself is that it uses PCC Streetcars, a sturdy design manufactured from the 1920’s-1950’s. It also has an exclusive right-of-way, hence the “high speed” designation.
The ride was a joy. The PCC Streetcars seem to have a more spacious interior and run more smoothly than the Green Line light-rail vehicles (although a couple of time the car jerked violently from side-to-side). The ride is scenic passing through a cemetery, along a Neponset River wetlands, past old warehouses in Milton and through many backyards (I’d love to have a trolley line in my backyard). The trolley drivers don’t come to a full-stop at the stations unless someone requests it, but they do a kind of rolling stop. I was amused when the trolley operator stopped to talk with the driver of the car coming from the opposite direction.
The viaduct turn-around at Ashmont reminds me of a roller coaster at an amusement park.
I thought the MBTA logo looked old-fashioned but the route maps are pretty much up-to-date.
The trolley at the Mattapan terminus
Two off-duty trolleys at the Mattapan yard.
More on the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Trolley Line at NYC Subways.