Views of Boston's Red Line subway.


Trainzing since 12-2003
A video showing the MBTA Red Line subway at various locations along the route.

This was the subway line I rode the most on growing up. My grandmother lived in Cambridge and we would take the commuter train into North Station then a short Green Line trolley trip to Park Street where we would switch to the Red Line over to Cambridge. We then had a good number of blocks to her apartment. This ride as a youngster from Bradford to Cambridge was what clinched my interest in railroads.

If we went shopping on Washington Street, now called Downtown Crossing, we would take the Red Line back to that station from either Kendall or Central Square. Filenes and Jordan Marsh, both big stores similar to Macy's, had an entrance for themselves right on the platform at Downtown Crossing. This was used for special sales and the station would be very crowded with shoppers during those times. One of the famous sales was Dollar Day which coincided roughly with the end of summer when mum would do the school clothes shopping for us at Jordan Marsh. The subway platform would be so crowded with shoppers, mostly women, on those days that my mom would grab on to our wrists tightly and we would hers as we pushed our way into the store. Today, sadly both of those stores are gone and those extra entrances are closed off. Filenes changed to Filenes Basement after merging in another store Gilchrist and like Jordan Marsh who merged with Macy's, moved to the shopping malls out in the suburbs. Today, I think Filenes Basement is also part of Macy's or is owned by the same corporate giant.

The most dangerous Red Line station is Park Street, the famous Pahk Street as the Bostonians say, due to the very narrow center platform and doors opening on both sides of the trains. As a youngster, I was afraid of falling onto the tracks due to the crowd on the platform.

In the late 60s, the Red Line was expanded south along the Southeast Expressway (Interstate 93) to Braintree where the line terminates today. To coincide with this route expansion, the MBTA purchased new Red Line cars with large windows. The best thing about these cars wasn't the comfy seats and the quiet ride, it was the ability to see out the front and watch the tunnel and the tracks ahead. In the early 90s, the line was extended again to the west to Alewife Brook Parkway in West Cambridge on the Belmont and Arlington line. This is a few more stops beyond Harvard Square which was the original terminus for the line since 1910 when the line first opened as the Cambridge Subway and to reach this above ground station, the subway runs the deepest on the system underneath an existing rail line used today mostly for commuter trains since there is so little freight in Boston today. In the 1920s, the Red Line gained a short branch to Mattapan Square via a trolley line that utilizes a former New Haven branch to Milton. The line is operated today as it was back then with PCC trolleys. I posted a ride on this line a while ago which is worth watching.