Boston's South Station is 100 years old this month, having opened for business for the first time on January
1st, 1899. South Station replaced the several smaller stations which had been used by the Boston & Providence,
Old Colony, New England, and Boston & Albany railroad companies in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. During
the early years of this century, South Station was the busiest passenger station in America. After losing many
trains during the 1960s and 1970s, and barely escaping complete demolition on a number of occasions, South
Station has made quite a comeback during the 1990s. Not only is the old station seeing more passenger trains now
than at any time during the past 30 years, but South Station is now the core of a major office development and
intermodal transportation center.
The NHRHTA's Shoreliner® magazine featured a detailed history of South Station in Volume
20 Issues 3 and 4 1989. These issues are still available for sale from the NHRHTA. Let's take a look at some
views from these Shoreliner® issues of South Station during its New Haven Railroad days...
This view of South Station's headhouse, looking across Dewey
Square, was taken shortly after it opened for business. Note the Boston
Elevated Railway tracks in the foreground. The 'EL' structure remained
in front of South Station until just before World War II.
Here is a view of the back end of South Station which was taken
around the turn of the century. The curved structure at the top of the
image is the old glass and iron trainshed. The proximity of South Station
to Boston Harbor resulted in corrosion so extensive that the trainshed
was removed between 1930 and 1932.
This view looking towards the yard throat around the turn of the
century shows some of the lower quadrant semaphore bridges which were
so characteristic of South Station before they were removed during the
1980s. This June 1905 photo is from the Stanley M. Hauck collection.
This view, taken shortly after the Blizzard of February 1899, is
looking towards the Fort Point Channel. The structures in the background
once housed an illuminating gas generating plant. The photo was taken
from the end of South Station's trainshed.
Three rolling lift bridges over the Fort Point Channel linked South
Station with the Old Colony lines and the Dover Street Yards. These old
bridges will soon be demolished as part of the Boston "Big Dig" Central
Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project. This photo was taken in 1936 by
Charles A. Brown.
The 'Willimantic Express' arrives at South Station from the
Providence Division during July of 1950. This view was taken from Tower
1. Note the large numbers of head end cars parked over on the terminal's
express tracks at right. Photo from the NHRHTA collection.
A train arrives at South Station from the Old Colony Division during
September of 1950. Note the three lift bridges over the Fort Point
Channel in the background. As above, this photograph was taken from
Tower 1. Photo from the NHRHTA collection.
New Haven I-2 #1312 heads out of South Station and under Signal
Bridge #7 during the 1940s or early 1950s. Note Tower 2 in the
background. Photo courtesy of Bob's Photos.
The 'Kiss Me Kate Special', carrying a load of stage actors from New
York City to Boston, arrives at South Station sometime during the early
1950s. Photo from the NHRHTA collection.
The all-streamlined Merchant's Limited departs Boston's South
Station for New York City during 1954. H.W. Pontin photo, NHRHTA
Here is a typical New Haven Railroad Shoreline passenger train of
the mid 1960s departing South Station for New York City during the
summer of 1966. Photo by Richard A. Fleischer.