Park Street station (MBTA)

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Park Street
Southbound Red Line train leaving Park Street station (2), December 2019.JPG
A southbound Red Line train leaving Park Street station in 2019
LocationTremont Street and Park Street
Boston, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°21′23″N 71°03′45″W / 42.356389°N 71.0625°W / 42.356389; -71.0625 (Park Street MBTA Station)Coordinates: 42°21′23″N 71°03′45″W / 42.356389°N 71.0625°W / 42.356389; -71.0625 (Park Street MBTA Station)
Owned byMBTA
Line(s)Cambridge Tunnel
Tremont Street Subway
Platforms2 island platforms, 1 side platform (Green Line)
1 island platform, 2 side platforms (Red Line)
Tracks4 (upper level - Green Line)
2 (lower level - Red Line)
ConnectionsBus transport MBTA Bus: 43, 55, 191, 192, 193
via Winter Street Concourse to Downtown Crossing:
Platform levels2
Disabled accessYes
OpenedSeptember 3, 1897 (upper level)
March 23, 1912 (lower level)
Rebuilt1915, 1936, 1977-79, 1980s, 2004, 2012
Passengers (2013)19,653 (weekday average boardings)[1]
Preceding station MBTA.svg MBTA Following station
Boylston Green Line Terminus
Boylston Green Line Government Center
toward Riverside
Green Line Government Center
Boylston Green Line Government Center
toward Lechmere
toward Alewife
Red Line Downtown Crossing
toward Ashmont or Braintree
Former services
Preceding station MBTA.svg MBTA Following station
toward Watertown
Green Line
Discontinued 1969
Preceding station Boston Elevated Railway Following station
toward Dudley
Main Line Elevated
Scollay Square

Park Street is an MBTA transit station in Boston, Massachusetts. It is located at the intersection of Park Street and Tremont Street at the eastern edge of Boston Common in Downtown Boston. One of the two oldest stations on the "T" (the other is Boylston), Park Street is the transfer point between the Green and Red Lines, as one of the quartet of "hub stations" on the MBTA subway system. Park Street is the fourth-busiest station in the MBTA network, with an average of 19,836 entries each weekday in 2010.[1]


Initial construction[edit]

Tremont Street Subway[edit]

Plan of the Tremont Street Subway (Green Line) level of Park Street in 1898; the station has since been substantially modified.

The southern section of the Tremont Street Subway from the Public Garden Incline through Boylston to Park Street opened on September 1, 1897, followed on October 1 by the spur to the Pleasant Street Portal.[2] The station was built with 4 tracks serving 2 island platforms; these were connected by two loops, allowing streetcars from the south and west to reverse direction and return to the portals and surface routes.

On September 3, 1898, the tunnel was extended to Scollay Square, Adams Square, Haymarket Square, and the Canal Street Incline.[2] Some cars ran all the way through the tunnel on the outer tracks; others continued to loop at Park Street.

Boylston and Park Street were built with rectangular stone headhouses designed by Edmund M. Wheelwright that did not aesthetically match the Common. Unlike the interior decor, the headhouses were sharply criticized as "resembling mausoleums" and "pretentiously monumental".[3][4] Later stations on the East Boston Tunnel and Washington Street Tunnel used more modest headhouse designs in response to this criticism.[3]

Main Line Elevated[edit]

The southbound platform in August 1901, showing the wooden high-level platforms for Elevated trains

On June 10, 1901, the Main Line Elevated began running through the Tremont Street Subway. The platforms at Park Street were retrofitted with raised wooden sections to allow elevated trains to run on the outer tracks to the Pleasant Street Portal, while streetcars continued to use the inner tracks and inner loop, entering the subway from the Public Garden Incline.[2] This arrangement lasted until Main Line service was moved to a separate tunnel under parallel Washington Street. Elevated trains last ran through the tunnel on November 28, 1908; they moved to the Washington Street Tunnel on November 30, and streetcar service returned to all tracks on December 4.[2][5]

Cambridge Tunnel[edit]

Cambridge Tunnel platforms at Park Street Under in September 1912
Expansion of the upper level in 1914

On March 23, 1912, the Cambridge Tunnel opened from Harvard Square to Park Street Under.[2] Park Street Under was built with two tracks with one side platform each and a center island platform, intended as a Spanish solution setup to speed boarding. Stairwells were added to the original platform level to connect to the lower level platforms. Unlike most other underground stations on the system (which were cut and cover construction with low ceilings), Park Street Under featured a spacious double-vaulted ceiling.

It was the first transfer station on the system to receive the "Under" postfix, rather than a separate name from the existing station. This represented a change in naming policy, and the first step towards easing wayfinding difficulties in the complex system.[6] North Station West (opened later in 1912), South Station Under (1916) and Scollay Under (1916) would later use this naming scheme; only Washington (1915) did not, as the southbound and northbound Main Line platforms there were already separately named Summer and Winter.

Overcrowding had been a problem at Park Street since the Main Line was routed through it, and did not improve when it reverted to streetcar-only operations. The problem worsened with the influx of passengers transferring at Park Street Under, as the only entrances to those platforms were narrow staircases connecting through the streetcar level.[5] In preparation for the extension of the Cambridge Tunnel, the Boston Transit Commission ordered a major renovation. The streetcar platforms were substantially lengthened to the south, and the surface kiosk for the southbound platform was moved. The construction work began on August 7, 1914, and was completed on March 8, 1915.[5][7]

Construction of the extension begun on May 3, 1912; the Dorchester Tunnel opened to Washington on April 4, 1915, and in three more segments to South Station in 1916, Broadway in 1917, and Andrew Square in 1918.[2]

Later changes[edit]

1934 plans of the streetcar level updated to 1948, showing the new northbound side platform and other modifications

The stairways to the side platforms on the lower level were widened by 1922 to support increased passenger flow. A new staircase from the northbound streetcar platform to the lower island platform was also installed. These improvements reduced the amount of room available on the north ends of the streetcar platforms, and boarding areas were moved south.[5] The Park Street Information Booth on the upper level, which soon became a Boston landmark, opened on September 15, 1923 and replaced an earlier kiosk in the same location.[7]

In 1936, in response to still-persistent overcrowding, a side platform was built adjacent to the outer northbound streetcar track. A new entrance connected to this platform was built on the east side of Park Street at Temple Place, with a passageway under Tremont Street. A second passage connected the new platform with the Cambridge Tunnel fare lobby opposite Park Street. The new platform moved the streetcar boarding area southbound for the second time. A new lighting system was also installed.[5] The $407,000 project, funded by the Works Progress Administration, began on January 8, 1936, and was opened on December 5.[7][8] It was likely based on a 1927 plan by one of the BERy trustees, which had called for new side platforms on both sides of the streetcar level, as well as opening the Winter Street Concourse to passengers.[9]

MBTA era[edit]

This 2018 view of the Winter Street Concourse, looking towards the Downtown Crossing Orange Line platforms, is dominated by an orange color; the view in the opposite direction is mostly green in color.

In 1964, the outer loop track was removed. Instead, a new crossover switch was installed to allow southbound streetcars from the through track to reach either side of the southbound platform.[5] There have been proposals to reconnect the outer loop, to allow trains on the outer inbound track to be turned around at Park Street, but this has not been done because of the cost of structural reinforcements that would now be required. A short stub "pit" track for emergency service remains within the inner loop.

In 1967, as part of a general system rebranding by the newly formed MBTA, the subway lines were assigned colors. The streetcar system—then down to five branches, and soon four—became the Green Line, the Cambridge-Dorchester Line became the Red Line, and the Main Line El became the Orange Line.[2]

The late 1970s saw the first major renovations to the station in four decades. Plans were released for the modernization of Park Street and three other downtown stations on August 27, 1975.[10] A $3.6 million contract was awarded on December 1, 1976.[10] The 1936-built Temple Place entrance and passageway were closed that month, and concession stands were removed in 1977. The modernization included new wall tiles, new lighting, rebuilt staircases, and upgrades to the faregate area on the southbound platform.[5] Elevators to the fare lobby from the Red Line center platform and the surface were installed in 1979, making the Red Line section accessible.[11] However, the surface elevator was frequently out of service due to repairs and other construction in the station.[12]

The Winter Street Concourse, an upper level of the Dorchester Tunnel between Park Street and Downtown Crossing, was cleared of some non-public storage and office space, and opened as a pedestrian connector in January 1979. It allows passengers to walk from the northbound Green Line side platform at Park Street to the southbound Orange Line platform at Downtown Crossing while remaining inside fare control.[5][7]

From August 1981 to June 22, 1996, additional peak-hour Red Line trains ran between Quincy Center station and Park Street, using crossovers north of Park Street to reverse direction. Between November 30, 1981 and June 1982, Park Street was also the northern terminus of a small number of five-car trains (the first Red Line trains longer than four cars), as station platforms to the north were not yet extended for longer trains.[2]

In the mid-1980s, the MBTA spent $80 million to extend the platforms of seven Red Line and three Orange Line stations to allow the use of six-car trains.[13] The agency obtained a $22 million federal grant in 1984 to partially fund the Central, Park Street, and Washington station work.[14] In 1985-86, the platforms at Park Street were extended to the north.[2][15] Six-car trains began operation on January 21, 1988.[2] An additional round of construction began on July 10, 1991; elevators to the Green Line sub-passage were installed in 1993.[10][16]

Around 2000, the MBTA outfitted the Green Line platforms with portable lifts as a temporary accessibility measure to serve the new low-floor Type 8 streetcars.[17] A $15 million project to build raised low platforms at Park Street and Haymarket began in 2001.[18][19] The work at Park Street was done in segments to allow service to the station to continue during construction.[20] Construction was completed in 2003.[21] New elevators from the surface to the westbound Green Line unpaid lobby and from the westbound Green Line platform to the Red Line island platform opened on December 21, 2012.[22] In early 2019, the MBTA accepted bids for a $11.8 million renovation of Park Street station. The project includes replacement of all wayfinding signage and lighting, as well as the reopening of the 1976-closed Temple Place entrance.[23] The elevator between the Red Line lobby and platform will be replaced in 2022-2024 as part of accessibility improvements at Downtown Crossing.[24]

Station layout[edit]

Track Layout
Green Line
pit track
Red Line

Park Street is a bi-level station, with the Green Line running on the upper level and the Red Line on the lower level. The Green Line has four tracks numbered 1 to 4 (north to south). Tracks 1 and 2 serve an island platform for westbound trains. Tracks 3 and 4 serve an island platform for eastbound trains, with an additional side platform serving Track 4. Track 4 is used by all eastbound through trains; Track 3 is only used by trains terminating at Park Street, as it loops to rejoin Track 2. Both island platforms have headhouses and fare control areas on their northeast end; the westbound platform also has a headhouse at its southwest end. A sub-passage connects the middle of the three Green Line platforms. A passage from the eastbound side platform leads to a small fare lobby under Winter Street, with stairs to the surface and the Winter Street Concourse to Downtown Crossing.

The Red Line has two tracks: Track 5 southbound and Track 6 northbound. The Red Line has both island and side platforms; however, unlike the Spanish solution, all platforms are used for both boarding and alighting. Staircases connect each platform to both Green Line island platform and the fare lobby; exit-only escalators lead from the southern end of the side platforms to the surface.

Ground Street Level Exit/Entrance
Green Line
Westbound      Green Line toward Cleveland Circle or Heath Street(Boylston)
Handicapped/disabled access Island platform Handicapped/disabled access
Westbound      Green Line toward Boston College or Riverside(Boylston)
Eastbound      Green Line short turn →
Handicapped/disabled access Island platform Handicapped/disabled access
Eastbound      Green Line toward Lechmere (Government Center)
Handicapped/disabled access Winter Street Concourse Side platform Handicapped/disabled access Winter Street Concourse
Red Line
Side platform
Northbound      Red Line toward Alewife (Charles/MGH)
Handicapped/disabled access Island platform Handicapped/disabled access
Southbound      Red Line toward Ashmont or Braintree(Downtown Crossing)
Side platform

Park Street station is not a major bus transfer point, though MBTA Bus routes 43 and 55 (plus the single early-morning outbound trips of routes 191, 192, and 193) and several MVRTA commuter routes stop on Tremont Street at Temple Place.


The Red Line elevator from the westbound platform

Park Street station is accessible for passengers on all trains. Elevators connect the surface to the westbound Green Line platform, and to the fare lobby.[25] The Red Line center platform has elevators to the westbound Green Line platform and to the fare lobby; the Red Line side platforms are not accessible. Elevators also connect the westbound Green Line platform and the eastbound side platform to the sub-passage. Because there are no elevators connecting the Red Line with the southbound Orange Line at Downtown Crossing, the accessible route for that transfer uses the Winter Street Concourse and the elevator at Park Street.

Public art[edit]

There are several pieces of public art in the station. Celebration of the Underground by Lilli Ann K. Rosenberg is a large wall mosaic along the outer outbound (westbound) tracks at the Green Line level, and can be viewed from the outbound island platform. The mosaic commemorates the designation of the Tremont Street Subway, including Park Street station, as a National Historic Landmark.[26] Created in 1978, it received renewed attention in 2020 after it was cleaned and better lit.[27]

Benedictions by Ralph Helmick consists of two giant bronze hands each mounted separately over the inbound and outbound Red Line tracks on the lower level of the station. Each hand is posed in a classic gesture of benediction or blessing.[28]


  1. ^ a b "Ridership and Service Statistics" (PDF) (14th ed.). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Belcher, Jonathan. "Changes to Transit Service in the MBTA district" (PDF). NETransit.
  3. ^ a b Coburn, Frederick W. (November 1910). "Rapid Transit and Civic Beauty". New Boston. Vol. 1 no. 7. pp. 307–314 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Rettig, Polly M. (June 14, 1976). "NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES INVENTORY -- NOMINATION FORM: Tremont Street Subway". National Park Service.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Chasson, George Jr. (1987). Lonto, Arthur J. (ed.). "Boston's Main Line El: The Formative Years 1879-1908". Headlights. Electric Railroader's Association. 49: 22–23.
  6. ^ O'Regan, Gerry (2012). "MBTA Red Line". David Pirmann. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Clarke, Bradley H. & Cummings, O.R. (1997). Tremont Street Subway: A Century of Public Service. Boston Street Railway Association. pp. 43, 49. ISBN 0938315048.
  8. ^ Eighteenth Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Boston Elevated Railway Company for the Year Ending December 31, 1936. Boston Elevated Railway. 1937. p. 16 – via Internet Archive.
  9. ^ "O'Hare Plan for Park-St Station Designed to End Jams both on Street and in Subway". Boston Globe. December 14, 1927. p. 17 – via open access
  10. ^ a b c Sanborn, George M. (1992). A Chronicle of the Boston Transit System. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority – via Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  11. ^ 1979 Annual Report. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 1979. p. 27 – via Internet Archive.
  12. ^ Ackerman, Jerry (March 8, 1989). "T pressured to open all routes to disabled". Boston Globe. pp. 1, 16 – via (second page, third page) open access
  13. ^ 1985 Annual Report. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 1985. p. 13 – via Internet Archive.
  14. ^ 1984 Annual Report. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 1984. p. 22 – via Internet Archive.
  15. ^ 1986 Annual Report. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. 1986. p. 23 – via Internet Archive.
  16. ^ Tran Systems and Planners Collaborative (August 24, 2007). "Evaluation of MBTA Paratransit and Accessible Fixed Route Transit Services: Final Report" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
  17. ^ "Executive Summary" (PDF). Program of Mass Transportation. Boston Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization. January 2004. p. 2-9. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 20, 2012.
  18. ^ "U.S. Government Procurements". Commerce Business Daily. No. PSA-2843. May 8, 2001. p. 17 – via Google Books.
  19. ^ "Planned Accessibility Projects - On Board the Green Line". Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Archived from the original on August 10, 2004.
  20. ^ "MBTA Continues Light Rail Accessibility Program at Park Street Station" (Press release). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. March 13, 2003. Archived from the original on April 17, 2003.
  21. ^ "Light Rail Accessibility Program at Park Street Station Approaches Completion" (Press release). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. July 25, 2003. Archived from the original on August 3, 2003.
  22. ^ Smith, Kelly (December 21, 2012). "New elevators for America's first subway station" (Press release). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
  23. ^ "Notice to Bidders" (PDF). Park Street Station Wayfinding and Station Improvements. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. January 23, 2019.
  24. ^ McCormack, John (March 23, 2020). "MBTA Contract No. A90PS01: Engineering and Design Services for the MBTA Downtown Crossing Station Accessibility Improvements Project, Phase II" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
  25. ^ "Park Street Station Neighborhood Map" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. April 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 17, 2014.
  26. ^ "On the Green Line" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
  27. ^ Annear, Steve (March 5, 2020). "MBTA sheds new light on Park Street station mural". Boston Globe.
  28. ^ "On the Red Line" (PDF). Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

External links[edit]