Arlington station (MBTA)

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MBTA Arlington Station 2009.JPG
The outbound platform in December 2009
Location20 Arlington Street, Boston, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°21′07″N 71°04′15″W / 42.35186°N 71.070728°W / 42.35186; -71.070728Coordinates: 42°21′07″N 71°04′15″W / 42.35186°N 71.070728°W / 42.35186; -71.070728
Owned byMassachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Line(s)Boylston Street Subway
Platforms2 side platforms
ConnectionsBus transport MBTA Bus: 9, 55
Disabled accessYes
OpenedNovember 13, 1921[1]
RebuiltMay 31, 2009
Passengers (2013)8,519 (weekday average boardings)[2]
Preceding station MBTA.svg MBTA Following station
Copley Green Line Boylston
Copley Green Line Boylston
toward Riverside
Green Line Boylston
Copley Green Line Boylston
toward Lechmere
Former services
Preceding station MBTA.svg MBTA Following station
toward Watertown
Green Line
Discontinued 1969

Arlington is a station on the light rail MBTA Green Line. located at the southwest corner of the Boston Public Garden at the corner of Arlington and Boylston Streets at the east end of the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Arlington was not part of the 1914-opened Boylston Street Subway; its construction was delayed by World War I and the station opened in 1921.


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 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, and remained in continuous use through its first major renovation, in 1967.[5][1] The Berkeley Street entrance was closed on January 3, 1981 as part of extensive cutbacks that including closing Bowdoin and Symphony.[6]

1960s renovations[edit]

The MBTA wanted to improve its graphic design in the early 1960s, so they hired Cambridge Seven Associates graphic designers to make it easier for people to understand. Arlington was used as their pilot project for testing modernization ideas, including the (T) "lollipop" sign, the colored walls and signage distinction between "inbound" vs "outbound", the high-contrast photographs on the walls, and the colored bands along the wall and above the entrances.[7] At the platform level, the wall at the inbound end of the station was painted with "warm" colors red and orange, while the outbound end was painted with "cool" colors blue and green.[7] The renovation was completed in 1968.[8]

2006–2009 renovations[edit]

In 2006, the MBTA announced that it would again renovate Arlington, Copley, and Kenmore stations, to upgrade for handicapped accessibility and general station maintenance.[9] 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.

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.[10] Panels of artwork were added to 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.[11] 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.[12]

Station layout[edit]

A 1949 plan of the station

Still structured as it was when originally opened, Arlington has two tracks with two side platforms.[13] 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 these 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 passengers to reverse direction without paying an extra fare. In particular, inbound passengers (traveling towards Lechmere) on the Green Line "E" branch must travel past Copley station into Arlington station, to reverse direction or to travel outbound on any other Green Line branch.

As of December 2016, the MBTA has been considering reopening the Berkeley Street entrance and installing additional elevators to improve reliability of access.[14]


  1. ^ a b Belcher, Jonathan (27 June 2015). "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district 1964-2015" (PDF). NETransit. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF) (14th ed.). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2014.
  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. ^ "Officials Celebrate Modernization of Arlington Station". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2009-06-01. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
  6. ^ "BOWDOIN, SYMPHONY T STATIONS CLOSE TODAY". Boston Globe. January 3, 1981 – via Proquest Historical Newspapers.
  7. ^ a b Byrnes, Mark. "The Minds Behind Boston's 'T'". CityLab. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  8. ^ "MBTA Modernization". Cambridge Seven Associates. Archived from the original on February 14, 2016.
  9. ^ Transit projects: Arlington station MBTA Retrieved 2008-11-30
  10. ^ Bierman, Noah (June 2, 2009). "Arlington T station reopens with disabled access". Boston Globe.
  11. ^ "Ancient Fishweir Murals". Museum Without Walls. cultureNOW. Retrieved 2015-05-08.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Green Line subway NYCSubway Retrieved 2008-11-29
  14. ^ Brelsford, Laura (December 5, 2016). "MBTA System-Wide Accessibility Initiatives: December 2016 Update" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Department of System-Wide Accessibility. p. 10.

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