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When the Orange Line still ran above ground
By adamg on Wed, 09/21/2011 - 5:04pm
A special railfan train in 1986, when the new Orange Line was nearing completion.
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Wish I could've seen it...
The link is a PBS news clip from the last day of service.
When there were two "el" sections
The Forest Hills segment of the "el" was only half the story. The tracks actually extended from the present Forest Hills Station southward to Hyde Park Ave and Walk Hill Street. The empty land across from Dunkin Donuts was the location of the repair shop and train storage yard for when trains were parked overnight.
I started riding when they still had the old WWII era "grey ghosts" that were painted battleship grey. Those were followed in '58 by newer Pullmans, and those were again superseded by the current Sidleys.
The JP/Roxbury El would go into the central subway and later emerge at North Station where the el continued through Charlestown and on to Everett. Those stations to the north of the city were North Station, City Square, Thompson Sq, Sullivan Sq (not far from the current) and Everett, just across the river.
Thanks to family friends, and looser restrictions on civilians in those days, I also learned how to operate the grey ghosts and Pullmans, which were a bit more challenging than what they have today. You had to charm the throttle and brake to make a smooth start and stop.
The fun to the el was that the motorman's cab on the grey ghosts and Pullmans was only half of what you have today. It was only a small cubicle, so one could stand right up front at the center passage door and watch where you were going, and it was pretty much the same view as the operator - just like you see in this film clip. Many a kid like myself that had an interest in trains would park there and ride the lines - all of them - getting to know the stations, tunnels and all that went with it, the same as the operators.
Opening and closing doors was also a 2 man job in those days. The train operator had no door controls. There were switches between each car on the outside, so when a train pulled into a station the door operator would exit to the cat walk between the cars to switch the doors open and closed. There were separate switches for each car, so for every 2 coaches in operation, you would need one door operator to stand between them to open and close the doors.
Of course when it was raining, it was not a very good place to be, and in winter it could be very icy. In the good weather, the door operator would often ride outside between the cars. It was somewhat like riding the back step of a fire truck (Yeah I've done that too, but they don't do that anymore).
One fond memory of the old grey ghosts was on the Blue Line. In the summer when it was hot we would all gather at State Street Under to catch one to East Boston. Then after we picked people up at Atlantic Station (Aquarium to most of you) the operator would let us open the front passage door. As we whizzed through the harbor tunnel we'd get a really nice cool, and musty smelling, breeze. Once at Maverick, we'd then have to close the door again.
It was a different time.
No one was hurt, no one was endangered, most people were responsible, and for the kid who was a train buff, it was one great hobby. And many of my friends eventually went to work for the T or the railroad. By then, it was just second nature to do so. For them, it was getting paid to have the same fun they grew up with.
I'm not certain why but I
I'm not certain why but I find this insanely cool. I can finally put a visual to the stories my mother and father tell about what the El was like.
Don't miss the El
I can't tell you how many times I almost hit those stupid posts holding that g-damn thing up!
I hope you got over your
I hope you got over your drinking problem.
I used to hang onto those posts
in the stations for dear life so I wouldn't fall on the tracks or into the street. From the platforms, you could look at the trash thrown onto the roofs of the nearby buildings. There was pigeon [email protected] everywhere and the houses on Washington St barely got any natural light at all. It really seemed like the tenements.
Try cutting down trees on
Try cutting down trees on leafy streets in Jamaica Plain and see how much people care about that 'natural light.'
...prostate is acting up again.
Very cool - thanks for posting
As an armchair subway-spotter, I love things like this. A bit vertigo-inducing, though...
If you liked this video, you may be interested in this site, now only available through the Internet Archive: http://web.archive.org/web/20071217184258/http://m...
Still there to some degree
Some stuff still active here.
Never had the chance to ride the El back in the day, but my Mom has many stories about it... Thanks for posting!
Shown in St. Elsewhere show opening (Season 1)
At the 1:13 mark, they show about a 5 second stretch of the elevated Orange Line
What I liked about the St. Elsewhere opening
was how they panned away from the El shot before the entire train had passed. At the time, the T was still running only four car trains on the Orange, Blue, and Red Lines, so this camera trick gave the TV audience the impression that Boston ran longer trains like the "big boys" in Chicago and New York did.
Four Car Trains
My kids once asked me why they have the "4/2" signs on the red and orange lines.
They still haven't taken these down.
IT ALL TOOK PLACE IN HIS HEAD
No need to watch TV show now.
The Brinks Jobs
With Peter Falk, filmed a scene on the Orange Line platform at Dudley Station. Also at Doyle's in JP, which was in the shadow of the Orange Line, when it had a shadow. That was 1978.
I did four years of commuting for High School from Forest Hills to Dudley. THanks for the cool video, but I don't miss it at all.
Miss it like crazy..
I used to love flying up Washington Street under the el in my cab like I was Gene Hackman in "The French Connection"! That's when no self respecting yuppie would be caught dead living in "SoWa"
I just missed the opportunity to ride the El
When I moved to Boston, the demolition had taken place for the track portions, but the stations were still there, and I did indeed love driving under the stations. And for gritty atmosphere, the old Causeway St. El was still around, and fun to pass under.
Funny how people are nostalgic for the El now, and back then people couldn't wait to tear it down as some sort of urban blight. I never had a problem with it.Causeway Street has never been the same. It has lost all it's character.
Ack, I wish I could read the names of the different stations as they fly by! I recognized Forest Hills, and the stretch down Washington near Doyle's, but after that it's a little tough. The city has changed SO MUCH since then, it's amazing. Some for the better, some for the worse.
Anyway, as someone from the North Shore born in '79 I only rode the EL Green Line in the late 80's and early-mid 90's. it's awesome to see the EL Orange Line, something I never experienced! I would love to see some film of that Washington St. corridor from the 70's/80's where the person behind the camera took their time in documenting the city. I suppose while your living during the time it's "no big whoop, why would anyone want to see me film some random street corners?" Well I would, 25-30 years later!
Thanks for the video!
Former elevated Orange Line stations listed
from north to south: Dover [now East Berkeley Street], Northampton [near Mass. Ave.], Dudley, Egleston, Green [a couple blocks east of the current station with that name], Forest Hills.
It was WAY more fun riding the Orange Line...
when it was elevated! There was so much to look at from the train windows. Now, there's no scenery at all.
Lived nearby in 1980. Good
Lived nearby in 1980.
Good times. Sorry about the video quality- taped it on betamax.
The narrator, 0:49-1:24. Can anyone identify his neighborhood?
Sounds like transit historian
Sounds like transit historian Frank Cheney, who co-wrote the book "when Boston rode the el". He grew up in Dorchester
I wish the person filming had added a little commentary about the ride, like saying the names of the stations, streets being crossed over, etc., to give it a little context. I only had occasion to ride the elevated Orange line once or twice before it was switched over to underground. Does anyone know where the portal shown at the very end was located?
Going under New England Medical Center
Here's the approximate location of where the El went under ground. The street to the left is Washington Street, the street to the right may be Ash Street, both which are still there.
Just south of Bennet street.
Just south of Bennet street.