Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Causeway Street Train Crossing

Causeway street, August 12, 1884 (click for larger image).

I've had this photo on my hard drive long enough that I've lost track of where I found it. The stone building in the background is the Fitchburg Railroad Depot, featured in an earlier post. This is the site of today's North Station. I love this photo. Note the carriage or omnibus in the lower left corner, and what may be a horse-car down the street towards the Fitchburg Depot. Some kind of construction seems to be going on along the Depot side of the street (edit: this scaffolding was part of a bucket conveyor to move dirt for a sewer construction project) . And in the center, gates are being closed as two locomotives prepare to cross Causeway street on their way to and from the Boston and Maine depot at Haymarket square.

Boston and Maine Railroad depot at the point of the Bullfinch Triangle, 1888. Note how the depot is approached by crossing Causeway street at the upper left.

Closer view of the 1888 map above. The two railroad tracks cross Causeway street near the Fitchburg Depot.

Not clear from this map is that standard railroad tracks also ran right down Atlantic avenue and Causeway street, servicing various wharves and warehouses between the depots that connected with what we would call South and North stations. Imagine the traffic - horse teams stopped; freight wagons, carriages, horsecars and trains all competing for precedence or biding their time. We tend to think of traffic congestion as a recent problem, but the pre-automobile era certainly had its share.

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