Imagine: Building an entire subway tunnel in less than three years
Today's the 115th anniversary of the opening of the oldest subway in North America - the tunnel between Boylston and Park Street. The scene above, from the Library of Congress, shows Tremont Street in the months leading up to the tunnel opening, when above-ground trolleys still ran down Tremont, even during construction of the tunnel.
Mass Moments recounts the opening of the subway - with its first ride at 6 a.m. sharp on the morning of Sept. 1, 1897. Somerville and Medford residents might be particularly interested in how construction took only 2 1/2 years. However, not everybody supported the project:
The first section was laid out along the edge of the Old Common Burial Ground. Workers saw only a few gravestones as they began digging, but they would eventually unearth the remains of over 900 unmarked graves, an unsettling discovery. The Boston Post jumped on the story, running it under the headline "Hideous Germs Lurk in Underground Air" with an illustration of a large, scary-looking "subway microbe." The pastor of the Park Street Church, called the subway "an infernal hole" and "an un-Christian outrage" when a water main ruptured, coating his office with mud. "Who?" he asked from the pulpit, "is the Boss in charge of the work? It is the Devil!"
Also, an explosion at Boylston and Tremont killed nine workers.