Posts Tagged ‘mbta’

An Animated History of the MBTA

Inspired by the map made by Bostonography for their post about the 100th anniversary of the Red Line in Boston opening (from Harvard Sq to Park St) I decided to see what the system would have looked like in the vernacular of the modern system map. The present system map didn’t come into being until the system-wide style modernization in 1967. Before then the maps didn’t use colors (or when they did it was different, as in the case where the “Red” line was colored blue). Lines were known by where they went, as in the Washington St subway or the Cambridge subway, or the Commonwealth Ave trolley.  The names were chosen (so the urban legend goes) because: Red Line went to Harvard (their school color being crimson), the Green Line went along the Emerald Necklace, the Orange Line went under Washington St which was in colonial times known as Orange St, and the Blue Line which went underwater.

So instead of just flashing a bunch of old maps that all look completely different, it made more sense to stick to one style and animate each year when the system was expanded (or contracted in many cases). I toyed with the idea of having text describing each change on the map but found that too confusing since you can’t control it for each slide (which I may create later).

Listed below are the changes to the system by year.  I refer to all lines by their present day names:

  • 1897: The original subway opens for Green Line trolleys from Allston to Park St.
  • 1898: Park St to North Station is opened with a trolley incline at North Station for all trolleys to the north of the city.
  • 1901: Orange Line opens in four segments: Sullivan Sq to North Station (elevated), North Station to Dover St (Atlantic Ave elevated), Dover St to Dudley Sq (elevated), and a routing though the Green Line subway from North Station to Pleasant Ave.
  • 1904: Blue Line opens as a trolley tunnel from Maverick Sq to Court Sq at Scollay Sq.
  • 1906: Atlantic Ave station opens on the Blue Line.
  • 1908: Washington St subway opens on the Orange Line, Green Line restored to trolley service.
  • 1909: Orange Line extended from Dudley Sq to Forest Hills.
  • 1912: Red Line from Harvard Sq to Park St opens; Green Line extended to Lechmere; Green St station on the Orange Line added.
  • 1914: Green Line extended to Kenmore Sq.
  • 1915: Red Line extended to Washington St.
  • 1916: Red Line extended to South Station; Blue Line extended to Bowdoin Sq.
  • 1917: Red Line extended to Broadway.
  • 1918: Red Line extended to Andrew.
  • 1919: Orange Line extended to Everett; Beach St station closes.
  • 1921: Arlington station added to Green Line.
  • 1922: Lechmere becomes terminal for Green Line trolleys.
  • 1924: Blue Line converted from trolley to heavy rail.
  • 1927: Red Line extended to Fields Corner.
  • 1928: Red Line extended to Ashmont.; Atlantic Ave el service cut back, rush hour service only from Dudley to North Station (Dashed Line).
  • 1929: Mattapan High Speed Line opens.
  • 1932: Green Line extended past Kenmore with portals for Watertown, Boston College, and Cleveland Circle trolleys; Charles St station added to Red Line.
  • 1938: Atlantic Ave elevated service ended.
  • 1941: Huntington Ave subway opened on Green Line from Copley to Arborway.
  • 1952: Blue Line extended to Suffolk Down.
  • 1954: Blue Line extended to Wonderland.
  • 1955: Science Park added to Green Line.
  • 1959: Riverside Line added to Green Line from Kenmore Sq to Riverside.
  • 1961: Pleasant St portal closed on Green Line.
  • 1963: Adams Sq station closed; Scollay Sq changed to Government Center; Mechanics station changed to Prudential (All Green Line).
  • 1965: Massachusetts station renamed Auditorium (Green Line).
  • 1967: Orange Line stations renamed: Friend-Union > Haymarket, Milk-State/Devonshire > State, Washington/Summer-Winter > Washington, Boylston-Essex > Essex.
  • 1969: Green Line Watertown “A” banch closed.
  • 1971: Red Line extended from Andrew to Quincy Center.
  • 1975: Orange Line Haymarket North extension opens from North Station to Malden Center; Charlestown elevated closed.
  • 1977: Orange Line extended to Oak Grove.
  • 1980: Red Line extended to Braintree.
  • 1983: Quincy Adams station added to Red Line.
  • 1984: Red Line extended from Harvard Sq to Davis Sq.
  • 1985: Red Line extended to Alewife.
  • 1987: Orange Line Southwest Corridor opened from Chinatown (renamed from Essex) to new Forest Hills; Washington St elevated closed; Green Line truncated to Heath St from Arborway.
  • 1988: Columbia changed to JFK/UMass; added to Red Line Braintree branch.
  • 1990: Auditorium renamed Hynes/ICA (Green Line)
  • 2002: Silver Line Phase I: Washington St opens.
  • 2004: Silver Line Phase II: South Boston to Logan Airport/City Point opened.
  • 2009: Silver Line to City Point discontinued; Silver Line Dudley Sq to South Station opened.

The MBTA of today is hardly recognizable from the system a century ago.  This says a lot about the willingness of Boston to change and adapt itself to survive.  The many extensions from 1971 to 1987 were funded by transferring funds from canceled highway projects to mass transit.  During the 1990s the subway was neglected in favor of expanding commuter rail.  These suburban extensions were never paid for and are a huge reason the MBTA is steeped in so much debt today.

Now if you are anything like me (and obviously you are or you wouldn’t be here) you want to be able to take in each slide like it’s a fine scotch. I’ve created a gallery of each slide below so you can see each one and track the changes. The gallery viewer also has a slideshow function which works just like the animation above.

FutureMBTA Map now for sale!

Basically how this whole thing started, I just wanted to see what a map of Boston’s famed ‘T’ subway would look like with a few new additions.  All these years later you can now bring home the final version of my futureMBTA map.

Now for sale at society6, this beautiful full color futuristic system map imagines what Boston could look like in 50 years (you know, supposing money and politics are no issue!)  The map is available as the following products:

  • Fine art print on natural white, matte, ultra smooth, 100% cotton rag, acid and lignin free archival paper using an advanced digital dry ink method to ensure vibrant image quality. Custom trimmed with 1″ border for framing.
  • Framed fine art print on natural white, matte, ultra smooth, 100% cotton rag, acid and lignin free archival paper using an advanced digital dry ink method to ensure vibrant image quality.
  • Fine art print on bright white, fine poly-cotton blend, matte canvas using latest generation Epson archival inks. Individually trimmed and hand stretched museum wrap over 1-1/2″ deep wood stretcher bars. Includes wall hanging hardware.
  • iPhone Case: Protect your iPhone (fits all iPhone 4 and 4S versions) with a one-piece, impact resistant, flexible plastic hard case featuring an extremely slim profile. Simply snap the case onto your iPhone for solid protection and direct access to all device features.
  • iPhone, iPad Skins and Laptop: Skins are thin, easy-to-remove, vinyl decals for customizing your device. Skins are made from a patented material that eliminates air bubbles and wrinkles for easy application.

Prints are available at my Society6 page,

“Every time I look down at your map I think ‘Oh, I’ll just take the T there…’ but then I realize it isn’t real!  We need to build it!” -Emily

New Future MBTA Map

Back when I made this map for the Boston Magazine challenge for the next big thing in Boston I was pretty burned out about the whole future map thing and I swore it would be my last map. I ended up throwing it together last minute and even though it is my most publicized map I was never happy with it and really wanted no more to do with the whole thing. What a difference a few years make. A little while ago I began to wish that I had made a map that actually expressed what I thought the MBTA could look like (rather than a map just showing the T decked to the halls with extensions that don’t even make sense to build). I also wanted to have a better quality map. The Boston Magazine map was made in Photoshop so it is pixel based and has no curves. I wanted to make a map that was much clearer, cleaner, and vector based so that I could change the size easily.

I started working on this new map until real life got in the way and forgot about it until a few weeks ago when I got an email from the owner of Boston Coasters who said he was a fan and wanted to start a line of products for the FutureMBTA. I realized the map he wanted to use was the one I hated (and would probably look crappy when resized) so I dug through my files and found this new one I had been working on. A few nights of intense redrawing produced what feel is my finest map and probably the (truly) last future MBTA map I will ever make.

Final Future MBTA Map

What makes this map different? For one thing it is the only map I’ve made that incorporates my Green Line/Urban Ring which shows how you can create a network of light rail that will work as both a suburb-downtown connector (the Green and Brown Lines) and an inner city ring line (The Yellow Line). There is also the North-South Rail Link which will enable DMU/EMU service for new stops in inner suburbs where existing commuter rail exists but currently does not serve (This is the “Indigo Line” which runs along side the regular commuter rail). Someone left a comment on one of my sites asking why I hadn’t created a unified master plan for expansion. This is the first step. I have some time off this week so I plan on further explaining what this map proposes, sort of like a thesis for the FutureMBTA.

So pretty soon you will be able to have this on coasters, journals, posters, messenger bags, etc, over at Boston Coasters. I have also created different desktop background sizes available over at FutureMBTA.

I also have this map with inverted colors because I think it looks bad ass.

MBTA Map Future Inverted

Changing the role of the MBTA

I think that the purpose of the MBTA needs to be split from an all-encompassing transit authority into purely that of operations. A parent authority should be established that would take the debt burden off the MBTA and allow it to focus all funds on operations and maintenance.

Capital construction and expansion would be handled by this parent authority or by another authority under the parent authority. The purpose of this new authority will be solely for the expansion and planning of transportation throughout the region. The new authority would not be limited to transit expansion but all aspects of infrastructure expansion in the Commonwealth; this includes highway, freight, and water port facilities.

For example the North South Rail Link would make MBTA operations much more flexible and attract many new riders but the construction costs would be so high that it would require the MBTA to realign funds from operation improvements to debt payments, thus limiting the usefulness of the entire project.