Arlington (MBTA station)

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MBTA Arlington Station 2009.JPG
Outbound platform in December 2009
Location 20 Arlington Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
Coordinates 42°21′07″N 71°04′15″W / 42.35186°N 71.070728°W / 42.35186; -71.070728
Owned by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
  Green Line (all branches)
Platforms 2 side platforms
Tracks 2
Disabled access Yes
Opened November 13, 1921
Rebuilt May 31, 2009
Passengers (2009) 8,378 (weekday average boardings)[1]
Preceding station   MBTA.svg MBTA   Following station
Green Line
toward Park Street
toward Riverside
Green Line
Green Line
toward Heath Street
Green Line
toward Lechmere

Arlington is a station on the Green Line light rail service of the MBTA transit system. The station is located at the southwest corner of the Boston Public Garden, at the corner of Arlington and Boylston Streets. It is therefore popular for reaching the Public Garden, particularly its famous swan boats.


Arlington station is located at the eastern end of the Back Bay neighborhood, at the intersection of Arlington Street and Boylston Street, in one of the most prosperous areas of Boston.[2] The station's prime location means that it is close to many popular attractions in the Back Bay area. Arlington is the most convenient station to reach the Boston Public Garden, as it is on the southwestern corner of the park.[2] The station also serves Bay Village, one of Boston's smallest and least-known neighborhoods.


In late 2006, an old station sign was uncovered.
The original mosaic was restored and incorporated into the new station wall.

After the success of the original Tremont Street Subway in 1897–1898, there was a push to extend the tunnel under Boylston Street towards Kenmore Square.[3] During 1913 tunnel excavations near the present-day site of Arlington station, remains of ancient fish weirs built by Native Americans were found approximately 30 feet (9.1 m) below street level. Their age has been estimated as between 2,000 and 3,600 years.[3][4]

Businesses in the Back Bay neighborhood along Boylston Street between Clarendon and Tremont Streets became worried about loss of income due to being bypassed by an uninterrupted 4,000-foot (1,200 m) tunnel between Boylston and Copley stations, which was completed in 1914. They lobbied hard for an infill station near Arlington Street, but were rebuffed by the Boston Elevated Railway and the state legislature. In 1915, with the backing of Boston mayor James Michael Curley, they succeeded in getting legislative approval for a new underground station.[3]

After delays caused by World War I, Arlington station finally opened in 1921,[5] and remained in continuous use through its first major renovation, in 1967.[6]

2006–2009 renovations[edit]

Outbound platform before renovations

In 2006, the MBTA announced that it would again renovate Arlington, Copley, and Kenmore stations, to upgrade for handicapped accessibility and general station maintenance.[7] On November 22, 2006, the main entrance to Arlington station closed for extensive construction and originally was not scheduled to re-open until March 1, 2008. Until completion, all access to Arlington station would be through long–closed alternative entrances at the corner of Boylston and Berkeley Streets.

In 2007, construction crews working on the Arlington Station project were telling people that the summer 2009 target would be difficult to achieve — that the renovations would most likely be completed closer to the summer of 2010. However, on May 31, 2009, the temporary Berkeley Street entrances were reverted to emergency-only exits, and the long-awaited renovated main entrances on Arlington Street reopened for public use.[8]

Station layout[edit]

Ground Street Level Exit/Entrance
Mezzanine Concourse Fare control, free crossover between platforms
Green Line
Side platform, doors will open on the right
Outbound Green Line toward Boston College, Cleveland Circle, Riverside, or Heath (Copley)
Inbound Green Line toward Lechmere, North Station, or Government Center (Boylston)
Side platform, doors will open on the right

Still structured as it was when originally opened, Arlington has two tracks with two side platforms.[9] In normal service, there are three entrances and exits, all at the intersection of Arlington Street and Boylston Street on the southwestern, southeastern and northwestern corners of that intersection. All entrances serve both the inbound and outbound platforms since they connect to a common mezzanine where there is only one row of faregates.

Unlike several other underground stations on the Green Line, there is a free crossover at the station, allowing inbound travelers to reverse direction without paying an extra fare. In particular, inbound passengers on the Green Line "E" branch must travel past Copley station into Arlington station to reverse direction, to travel outbound on any other Green Line branch.


In addition to standard MBTA route maps and maps of the immediate neighborhood, panels of artwork decorate the station at the platform level. Designed by Ross Miller, these panels explain and celebrate the ancient Boylston Street Fishweir that had been discovered during excavations in the vicinity.[10] Casual observers may not notice that several images of modern Native Americans have been concealed among the tangled sticks of the fish weirs pictured on the panels.[11]


  1. ^ "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2010. Retrieved October 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Arlington station MBTA Retrieved 2008-11-29
  3. ^ a b c Koebel, Romin (2005). "Boston Transit Milestones". MIT Open Courseware. Archived from the original on 2006-09-20. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  4. ^ Decima, Elena B.; Dincauze, Dena F. "The Boston Back Bay Fish Weirs" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  5. ^ Lynch, Andrew (April 4, 2012). "An Animated History of the MBTA". Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  6. ^ "Officials Celebrate Modernization of Arlington Station". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2009-06-01. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  7. ^ Transit projects: Arlington station MBTA Retrieved 2008-11-30
  8. ^ Back Bay T Station Reopens with Improved Access for Disabled Riders, Boston Globe
  9. ^ Green Line subway NYCSubway Retrieved 2008-11-29
  10. ^ "Ancient Fishweir Murals". Museum Without Walls. cultureNOW. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  11. ^ Annear, Steve (January 4, 2013). "Hidden Images at MBTA Green Line Station Reveal Deep History of Boston's Back Bay". BostInno. Streetwise Media. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Arlington (MBTA station) at Wikimedia Commons