South Station, Boston

South Station around the time that it opened in 1899. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

263_1899c-loc

The same view around 1905, after the construction of the Atlantic Avenue Elevated. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Transportation

South Station in 1956, during construction of the Dewey Square Tunnel. Image courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

263_1956-08-13-bpl

South Station in 2014:

263_2014

These four photos reveal the changes that have taken place here at South Station over the past 115 years.  While the building itself (or at least most of it) has remained essentially the same, its surroundings have continually changed.

Before 1899, four different railroads had terminals in the general vicinity of the present-day station.  To make things simpler, South Station was built, and all four lines were rerouted to it.  A few years later, in 1901, the Atlantic Avenue Elevated was built, as seen in the second photo.  The rapid transit line included a station at South Station, which can be seen on the far right of the 1905 photo.

The third photo shows the result of changes in the way people travel; the Atlantic Avenue Elevated closed in 1938, and was demolished four years later.  Even South Station was seeing a severe drop in passengers in postwar America, as cars became the primary method of travel.  However, Boston’s colonial-era street network was not particularly accommodating to large number of cars, so the Central Artery was built in the 1950s.  Most of the Central Artery was elevated, but it was put underground for a few blocks near South Station, and was known as the Dewey Square Tunnel.

The Dewey Square Tunnel, which is seen under construction in the 1956 photo, turned out to be a foreshadowing of things to come; part of Boston’s infamous Big Dig involved putting the entire Central Artery underground.  Today, the tunnel is still there, directly underneath where I was standing when I took the photo.  It is the only existing part of the Central Artery; the remainder of the 1950s-era expressway was demolished upon completion of the Big Dig.

Today, South Station has been trimmed a bit – notice that the facade on both sides is shorter than in the first two photos.  This was a result of demolition in the 1960s, at a time when many railroads were cutting back or eliminating passenger service.  However, today South Station is a busy transportation center again – it is the busiest railroad station in New England and the sixth busiest in the country, and it is the northern terminus of the Northeast Corridor, the busiest rail line in the country.

Subway Station 23rd Street & Lexington Ave, New York City

The entrance to the 23rd Street subway station on Lexington Avenue, around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

189_1905c-loc

The station entrance in 2014:

189_2014

The subway station is still there, but the elaborate entrance and exit kiosks are long gone.  The 23rd Street station was opened in 1904, along the Lexington Avenue Line, the first subway line in New York.  In the intervening years, this intersection has remained remarkably unchanged, even down to the “East 23rd Street” lettering on the corner of the building above the station entrance.

Grand Central Terminal, New York City

Grand Central Terminal, between when it opened in 1913 and around 1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

161_1913-1920-loc

The same view in 2014:

161_2014

Grand Central Terminal in New York City was built in 1913 on the site of a previous station, and although it is no longer the inter-city rail hub that it used to be, it is still a major part of rail transit in New York City, as seen in the 2014 rush hour photo of the concourse.  The concourse has undergone renovations and restorations along the way, which included building a staircase on the opposite end – using stone from the same quarry as the original structure – but it retains a very similar appearance, even down to the constellations on the ceiling, which can be seen in both photos.  The first photo is dated by the Library of Congress as being between 1910 and 1920, but it was likely taken around the time that it opened, to show the world for the first time what this station would look like.

Union Station, Springfield, Mass

Union Station in Springfield, Mass, around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

145_1905c loc.tif

The scene in 2014:

145_2014

Prior to 1890, trains passing through Springfield on the Boston & Albany Railroad had to cross Main Street at street level; this resulted in significant traffic issues as the city grew, so in 1890 a stone arch was built over Main Street, and an elevated stone viaduct carried the railroad through downtown.  As part of this, the old Union Station was opened in 1889.  Designed by Shelby, Rutan and Coolidge in the style of Henry Hobson Richardson, the station consisted of buildings on both the north and south sides of the tracks (as seen in this photo, taken around the same time).  The 1905 photo shown above shows the south side, looking east along Lyman Street.  This station was demolished in 1925 and replaced with the present-day Union Station.  This station, located on the other side of the tracks, has been closed since 1974, but is in the process of being renovated.  In the meantime, rail travelers today use the Lyman Street entrance to access the modern Amtrak station, which is a far cry from Richardson’s original design.

Grand Central Terminal, New York

Grand Central Depot in 1871. Image courtesy of New York Public Library.

103_1871-2Bnypl

The newly reconstructed Grand Central Station around 1900. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

104_1900c-2Bloc.tif

The present-day Grand Central Terminal in 2010:

104_2010

The three photos show the three different versions of the railroad station on 42nd Street.  Originally built in 1871 and named Grand Central Depot, it was a joint effort between three New York railroads, hence the term “grand central.”  It was extensively rebuilt from 1899 to 1900, as shown in the second photo, but it didn’t last for long.  Starting in 1903, it was demolished in stages and replaced with the current structure, which was completed in 1913.  This building itself was threatened in the 1960’s – it was designed to be able to support the weight of a tower above it, and several proposals were considered, one of which would have kept the original structure, while stripping it of most of its historic significance.  Ultimately, the city declared the building a landmark, thus preventing it from being altered or demolished.

Union Station, Washington DC

Union Station in Washington, DC, between 1910 and 1920. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

071_1910-1920-2Bloc.tif

The same building in 2012:

071_2012

Union Station was built in 1907, by the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.  Since then, a lot has changed in the city, but the building has remained the same.  Neither the Pennsylvania nor the Baltimore & Ohio Railroads exist anymore, but the station is now a major Amtrak hub, and is the southern terminal of the Northeast Corridor, which stretches from DC to Boston, and is the busiest passenger rail line in the country.  The modes of transportation to the trains, however, has changed a lot in the past 100 years.  While the first photo shows trolleys unloading passengers at the station, they have been replaced by cars and buses in the 2012 photo.