The wooden slats of doom

Old escalators at an MBTA station

Some of you might remember when escalators on the T featured wooden slats that were death on heels. The folks at the Boston City Archives wonder if you can place this station and when the photo was taken. See it larger.



Free tagging: 


    Aquarium station?

    (which probably wasn't called that back then)

    if I'm wrong, my second guess is South Station.

    It's not Downtown Crossing -- those escalators were on opposite sides of the platform, not side-by-side.

    Aquarium was called Atlantic.

    Aquarium was called Atlantic.

    Also, I think you are correct. Wiki indicates that Atlantic had long narrow wooden escalators that went up to the elevated.


    It may be, I remember taking

    By on

    It may be, I remember taking the escalator before they renovated the station and I can recall the escalators being that small.

    I agree

    By on

    I remember this wooden escalator, probably because it was so darned odd and scarey and made an impression on my young mind, not because I'm older than the hills. Honest.


    Rattling human conveyor of DOOOOOOM...

    By on

    I was amazed at how long they kept the antique wooden escalators at DTX. I liked riding them because they were so weird...

    I believe spitting in the stations was more of an issue when tobacco chewing was much more popular.

    definitely not Porter

    Porter Square station opened in 1984, long after the T stopped installing this kind of escalator (or posting 'SPITTING FORBIDDEN' signs)


    By on

    Downtown Crossing? They had the wooden slat escalators at the Chauncy St. exit.

    I don't think so

    Downtown Crossing had a single wooden up-only escalator on the Chauncy Street side (and another on the Hawley Street side) -- not four escalators side-by-side.

    Not actually 4

    Agreed that it's not Downtown Crossing, FKA Washington Street, but I don't think that's really four escalators - looks to me like a pair of the old ones, and then to the left a pair of the new metal escalators being installed. And weren't there two wooden escalators from the platform to the concourse level there, and then a single one from the concourse up to Chancy Street?

    The wooden escalators at Downtown Crossing

    at least the ones I remember surviving into the 1990s or beyond, went directly up from the Red Line platforms to the street (Hawley on one side, Chauncy on the other). They did not serve the concourse (Orange Line) level. They were one-way, up only, and you went through an 'iron maiden' turnstile to enter them.

    Park Street?

    By on

    maybe Park Street. Near green line trains?


    By on

    That was my assumption too.

    I also think...

    By on

    ...that this is Atlantic (Aquarium). I have memories of my big brother calling to me from the next escalator over telling me I was on the wrong one! ;)


    By on

    forest hills

    I've Never Seen Escalators Like That Before!

    By on

    I've seen wooden escalators before, but their steps were always level. These look more like travelators, but they're much too steep for that.

    Overall, they seem incredibly treacherous to be in service in a public area; a multitude of accidents just waiting to happen; or in this case undoubtedly did. How many things did those huge wooden teeth gobble up, and how many fingers were severed by the unforgiving, blade-like openings where the handrails go back inside? How many injuries occurred when people slipped, fell, and then slid down the whole contraption to the bottom?

    Despite their safety issues, the escalators bear evidence of very heavy use, perhaps by passengers with luggage. There are not many stations that have a wide escalator-stairway that goes directly up into an area with daylight. Therefore, my best guess is South Station.

    Washington or Essex

    These look like the evil pieces of shit at what was then called "Washington St.". It could also be the Essex stop.

    There was one at the Chauncy St. exit that I used to get to my temp job in the Bedford Building in 1985, and there wasn't an obvious companion staircase! I had to wear "office" shoes for that job and it was always a horror if I was running late enough from my other job and had to use that terrifying piece of garbage.

    The main entrance to Essex (aka Chinatown) with stairs looked a lot like the one in the picture, and I would use that or another Washington entrance to avoid those deathtraps. The slats were polished smooth with age and there was often water running down them, too. Maybe that was a fire suppression "feature".

    While it was sad what happened at Kings Cross and all, it did mean overnight replacement with 20th century technology!

    I sure do remember!

    By on

    South Station! I remember riding on those wooden slats and you really had to suck your breath in to fit in between the walls of the escalator. It was a very narrow space. There were approx. 10 slats in each wood floor on the belt.

    Maverick Station , East

    By on

    Maverick Station , East Boston..Second guess is Government Station.,

    No idea

    By on

    but I can't believe one time spitting was forbidden on the subway.

    No spitting

    By on

    Those "no spitting" signs could been seen on the T at some stations as late as the early 70s. I think one of the reasons may have been that in earlier times diseases like TB could be spread that way. I still can't figure out why so many people spit in the first place.

    I loved these!

    By on

    The ones at DTX anyway--these specific ones aren't familiar. I rarely had a reason to get off at that end (unless I was going to Windsor Button--sigh) but they always put a minute of adventure in your day.

    Thanks for playing folks!

    By on

    Thanks for playing folks! Most people (both here and on twitter and facebook) guessed Aquarium or Downtown Crossing, but this is actually Andrew Station in May of 1940.