Inside an abandoned trolley tunnel

Tickets for a city Landmarks Commission tour of an abandoned trolley tunnel downtown today went quickly. WFXT's Robert Goulston gets some photos of the 1898 tunnel. Another.

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Umnm

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He's wrong.

These were tickets for a tunnel under City Hall. Not really Tremont Street.

This is what is left after Gov't center had its tunnels redone when Scollay Sq went away.

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Nah, I was wrong

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I thought it was the tunnel you can see as you pull out of Boylston station towards Arlington. Wrong, and fixed.

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Nope

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Its a common mistake.

I wish the T would give a tour of those tunnels. The one under city hall is so.. uh.. not impressive. The Pleasant Street portal (the tunnels near Boylston Street Station), are something to see.

One day I will schmooze up to someone at the T and bring my GoPro and shoot a video.

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Would also love to see

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Would also love to see the Blue Line Bowdoin loop and the rails to the sealed Cambridge Street / Joy Street portal.

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The sealed off trolley loop

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The sealed off trolley loop at the west end of Maverick station would also be interesting to see.

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Most of the Maverick loop

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Most of the Maverick loop area got recycled for the renovated station 12 years ago when they extended the platforms for 6-car trains. The once readily-visible grooves in the concrete floor for the trolley loop's trackbed were definitely disrupted bigtime by the station expansion. Not sure what fraction of the vintage space is still left behind the new moved-back platform walls, or whether all of that remaining off-limits area has since been cannibalized for new station maintenance space, staff-only areas, and electrical boxes. Certainly isn't the cool and eye-catching sight from the train that it used to be pre-renovation when it was all a gigantic open area.

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The full loop is still in

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The full loop is still in place behind the elevator shaft

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There were pics of Bowdoin

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There were pics of Bowdoin Loop + tail tracks on a now-deleted online photo album taken by a T employee. Not a place they can give tours because it's all third-rail electrified active trackage in all-day use. Tracks go right up to a wall at the bottom of the filled-in incline, and there's a little platformlet w/ hand railing at the wall for staff to exit the parked trains from the front door. Not a particularly exciting view, unfortunately. I don't know how staff actually leave their shifts from a parked train unless another active train is reversing on the next track to ferry them to the station; it's incredibly tight in there on the tails!

The tunnel walls swing out around the loop area. I remember the photo album having a nice view of the loop configuration looking back inbound from the tail tracks. Not altogether different in general appearance from how the tunnel walls for Government Ctr. loop interface with both directions of the Green Line.

It is, however, pretty clear from those pics why Bowdoin Station wouldn't be saved if the Red-Blue connector were built to Charles MGH extending off the tail tracks. They have to demolish a bunch of concrete through the loop area to straighten the alignment onto the tail tracks for revenue service to Charles or else the crippling speed restrictions of going around half of a very tight loop to get onto the tail track area would destroy all semblance of schedule management across the Blue Line. That much is abundantly clear from looking at the pics of the loop area. Unfortunately since the station is structurally attached to the portion of tunnel that has to be straightened, the west end of the platforms by the main entrance have to be obliterated to do the necessary straightening surgery.

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For years though, a lot of

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For years though, a lot of people, including hardcore railfan types, claimed there was no remaining abandoned tunnel segment under city hall, that the bypassed segment was fully destroyed by the construction of city hall itself. At least this tour makes it clear that a small segment, dull as it may be, does remain.

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Here's a good photo of tunnel

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Here's a good photo of tunnel demolition during City Hall Plaza's construction in 1963, to help orient self for where the preserved segment is:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cityofbostonarchives/9502379483/sizes/l

BPL's online Flickr photo catalogs have a lot of City Hall Plaza construction photos, several of which show this very spot where they started ripping the roof off of the tunnel and transition into the preserved tunnel segment.

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There is also a short abandoned Red Line tunnel

going under Brattle and Eliot streets in Harvard Square. Before the Red Line was extended towards Porter Square in the early 1980s, this non-revenue tunnel led to an above-ground storage yard where Harvard's JFK School of Government and JFK Park are today. For a couple of years during construction, it also contained a temporary replacement station called "Harvard/Brattle".

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Harvard-Brattle was actually

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Harvard-Brattle was actually an outdoors station immediately abutting the portal, below street-level on the corner of Brattle & Eliot St.'s. See 1979 station photo here, and match the Eliot St. building in the background with present-day Street View. The portal was walled off at the sidewalk and a bunch of fill brought in to bring the JFK School built on top of the yards level with the street, so no trace of it remains even though the tunnel itself (which fans out into 3 tracks before the portal) is completely intact.

The full original Harvard Station--signage and all--is the one you can still see to the left on an inbound train after the curve, with temp Harvard-Holyoke immediately across it on the right lit by high-intensity work lights. For a good decade there used to be a comprehensive online photo album tour of the abandoned tunnel, Harvard-Holyoke, and the last 20 feet of Harvard-Holyoke platform that are hidden behind a cinderblock false wall...but seems the owner took it down sometime in the last few months. Hopefully it's mirrored somewhere else.

On the outbound side only a half-remnant of the original Harvard platform remains on the right by the curve, and anything remaining of outbound Harvard-Holyoke is inaccessible and out-of-view behind the cinderblock wall to the left.

To orient self, the abandoned tunnel is on the other side of the curving wall as you go down the main-entrance stairs into the station concourse. It's accessible from a utility room entrance behind the former staffed ticket windows. Tunnel is lit and used as a makeshift station maintenance room (workbenches, tools, etc.), though it's dusty as hell in there. While the Red Line is no longer configured to allow for any re-use of that tunnel for a short-turn platform, it is conceivable (if not actually engineering-proven) that an Urban Ring light rail spur through Allston crossing under the Charles could split the JFK School buildings under the walkway and come into the tunnel from the former Eliot St. portal side to stub out at a Green Line-type platform right at the bottom of the lobby stairs. That was a rainy day future-proofing consideration way back when they built the JFK School, although YMMV in absence of any official feasibility study on whether a putative trans-Allston line could or would thread the needle precisely enough to make any use of that preserved alignment.

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