|The Washington Street Elevated, 1929. |
Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection
The "El," as it was known, ran from downtown Boston to Forest Hills and snaked its way down Washington Street in the South End until it was torn down in 1987. Some people decried the poor condition of the 80+ year old stations, claiming that the system was outdated and that the noise was a menace. Others had fonder memories of the "El" and lamented the loss of the connection between the communities that it provided. See part of the transcript from WGBH's coverage of the end of the "El" here and note Byron Rushing's insightful comments. The Jamaica Plain Historical Society blog also has a great post about the "El."
While the structure from Northampton Station, which stood near the intersection of Washington St. and Massachusetts Ave., was given to the Seashore Trolley Museum in 1988, I don't think other stations or pieces of the "El" survived in the public realm. People probably grabbed small pieces (bolts?) and snapped pictures as souvenirs but little else of the "El" survives.
Luckily, footage of the "El" is posted on YouTube. As an added perk, there are some great shots of the South End.
The video above, from 1986 or '87, shows a neat vista of Washington Street. If you're familiar with Washington Street today, pay close attention to this video and notice all of the new buildings that have gone up since this was filmed. The Hotel Alexandra is barely visible on the left at 3:18; and Cathedral of the Holy Cross at 4:34. Watch until the end and the entrance into the tunnel.
The video above shows some of the dismantling of the Elevated tracks in the late 1980s. 1:02 shows the tracks near Northampton Station coming down outside of 1701 Washington Street; 5:05 shows Cathedral of the Holy Cross; 5:12 shows Franklin Square; and 5:15 shows Hite Radio and T.V. (soon to be demolished) at the corner of Washington St. and Worcester Square.
If you just can't get enough "El" history and have some time on your hands, check out this 28 minute documentary "The Fall and Rise of Boston's Elevated Subway." There are some good images of some of the stations, especially Dover St. station.