South Station with Atlantic Avenue Elevated line.
As some will know, there was once an elevated train line that ran over Atlantic avenue and around the waterfront of the city. The line was part of the original rapid transit plan for the city, a partner to the underground Washington street line. The postcard above shows the elevated structure at South Station. The line followed a loop along Atlantic avenue, Commercial street and Causeway street to North Station.
Boston's rapid transit lines, 1930s.
What fewer people may know is that the Atlantic avenue elevated line was a branch of the main line that would run from Forest Hills to Everett. The map above shows the system with its stops. Coming from the south, a train could either go straight into the downtown tunnel, or turn right at Herald street, and left again on Harrison avenue, in to Beach street, turn right, and then left again and come alongside South Station and follow Atlantic avenue from there. This waterfront route gave people access to South Station, and to what was then a working waterfront, including the ferries that ran both north and south.
Possibly the State Street station.
Rowe's Wharf station.
Atlantic avenue El, just before being torn down.
During the 1920s, jobs on the waterfront were disappearing. The rise of the automobile and the construction of the Sumner Tunnel to East Boston helped kill the ferry service, and ridership declined on the Atlantic avenue line. A wreck at the turn at Harrison avenue and Beach street caused the through route from the main line to Atlantic avenue to be cut, and the Atlantic avenue line became a shuttle between South and North Stations. In 1942, the elevated tracks were taken down and scrapped.
Atlantic Avenue El coming down.
Train running under Atlantic Avenue elevated tracks.
But there's more to Atlantic avenue and trains!
Union Freight Railroad tracks running down Atlantic avenue and spur lines to the wharves and markets (click on image to see larger version).
Atlantic avenue was also the route of a street-level railroad line, the Union Freight Railroad. The line allowed rail access directly to the waterfront wharves and the markets and warehouses on the land side of Atlantic avenue. There is a mention of a 99 year lease for the Atlantic avenue right of way, but apparently the company gave up its rights as the Boston waterfront lost its freight traffic.
Oops! Boxcar goes off the tracks under the Atlantic avenue El.