Talk:Harvard (MBTA station)

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Bi-level platforms.... What about Chinatown?[edit]

China town also has a bi-level platform? If you take the orange line train from Back Bay you'll see the difference when pulling into Chinatown station.

Chinatown (MBTA station) CaribDigita 23:52, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Nope. Like the Orange Line platforms at Downtown Crossing, Chinatown's platforms are staggered laterally, such that you pass the opposite one completely before pulling into yours. But that are each at the same depth, unlike the given examples where the tracks in one direction drop below the tracks in the other. (talk) 04:15, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
And... I just noticed your mistake was six years old, and therefore unlikely to be reflected in the form of misinformation on any present-day page. Carry on. (talk) 04:16, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

Station information incorrect[edit]

The entry says the station opened in 1912 was rebuilt in the 1980s, but this isn't quite correct. As I understand it, an entirely new station was built when the tracks were rerouted to extend the line to Alewife. A part of the old station can still be seen just as the train curves through Harvard Square. The old entrance was at the Out Of Town News building in the center island of the Square and the new entrance is now on the corner of Brattle Street and Mass. Ave. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:28, 16 March 2008 (UTC)

The new station was built pretty much where the old station was located. There was a wooden temporary station where the Kennedy School of Government is now located (then an MBTA storage yard) during construction. The platforms are entirely reconfigured and parts of the old platforms are abandoned, but still visible as you report. The new station extends further north along the new track alignment under Mass Ave, but the main entrance is still next to out-of-town news, close to where the old entrance was. (The roof of the old entrance head house was saved and is now the roof of out-of-town news.) One section of the old station, the bus tunnels, was not demolished and they are still in use.--agr (talk) 14:00, 16 March 2008 (UTC)
This site has some info. CaribDigita (talk) 07:48, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

Suggested improvements[edit]

I recently overhauled the article, reorganizing it, and adding some content and pictures. But our coverage of the third-busiest MBTA station still could use some improvements, including well-documented but little-known items:

  1. Description of current station could be improved, including a map of its complex shape and rail/bus/pedestrian spaces and tunnels, relative to above-ground entrances, streets, and buildings.
  2. History section should mention architectural development of the headhouse (main entrance structure), from its original version, to the later version now a news stand, to the current modernist shed.
  3. The architects of the major station structures (original and especially current version) are not mentioned, but would be notable.
  4. Construction history is notable as the first major use of slurry wall excavation in North America, allowing Harvard Square to continue functioning while major excavation, construction, and setup of a tunnel boring machine proceeded beneath. The Red Line Northwest Extension project is notable for coming in more or less on time and on budget, unlike the later Big Dig project.
  5. Former Eliot Street Yards storage and maintenance facility (now the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, and Harvard Kennedy School of Government) and access tunnel
  6. Controversy about JFK Presidential Library, originally slated for Eliot Yards, now at Columbia Point, Boston
  7. Somewhat more-detailed description of main entrance immediate surrounds, including Visitor Info kiosk, and passing mention of "The Pit", with Wikilinks to further coverage in the Harvard Square article


  1. A central atrium overview and/or panorama shot, and looking towards rail and bus platforms, and back towards the entry. Views of and from the Church Street secondary fare mezzanine vs. platform level, and the Brattle Square tertiary entrance. Also, inside lower level Harvard Bus Tunnel (southbound), showing a left-loading trackless trolley, as well as a diesel bus loading passengers in the tunnel via its right-hand door (awkward but not uncommon).
  2. There previously were nice photos of some of the artwork related to the station, such as Blue Sky on the Red Line by György Kepes, but they all seem to have been purged due to some copyright concerns. Because of their architectural presence, it may or may not be difficult to include them in the incidental background of general overview photos of the station; I don't know how to interpret the rules on this. It would be bizarre if all pictures of public spaces had to treat all artworks as Orwellian "unpersons".
  3. Pictures of the unglamorous but vital Harvard Bus Tunnel and its portals might be useful. Also a picture of the closed Eliot Street Yard portal, which still exists at the boundary of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government property that replaced the old railcar maintenance facility. I think that's where the historic "Boston Elevated Railway" carved inscription is located.
  4. Pictures taken during the reconstruction of the station in the early 1980s are fascinating, with heavy MassAve traffic rumbling above a huge hole and a massive tunnel boring machine. There must also be pictures from the original construction around 1910, but I've never seen any. It's way too late to take photos now, but the Boston Street Railway Association has huge collections of historic transit photos. I have no idea of how to get them to release some, but they might be persuaded to do it as "teaser" to sell their historical and archival publications.

Some of these topics are well-covered in depth at the relevant articles, but they should at least be mentioned or sketched out here, with appropriate Wikilinks to more info. It's a fair amount of work, including refs, but very doable. I'll probably just add things incrementally; a WP:DYK effort would probably run afoul of the "5X in 7 days" requirement, and be more trouble than it's worth, but I'll pitch in a bit if somebody else wants to take the lead and follow through on the intense work pace demanded for a DYK nomination.

Help from other editors would be much appreciated. I've listed my suggestions to help coordinate our efforts, and to let others know what I'm up to with this article. Reify-tech (talk) 19:37, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

Some disconnected thoughts:
I definitely concur with all of this. It hasn't been my highest-priority article, but I'll certainly help out. We could go for Good Article status which is also eligible for DYK but has no time limit; I think that's a better goal.
I know the Cambridge Public Library has a large collections of NW Extension documents that may prove very useful for those points.
Any description of the station surroundings, beyond the physical location of entrances and any nearby structures that influenced station and tunnel shape, does not belong in this article no matter how well written. That belongs in the Harvard Square article - simply linking to that eliminates the need for that content taking up space here. (WP:NOTTRAVEL is closely related).
I have thousands of photographs in a backlog to upload, but I can focus on getting some of these specific ones when I'm in the area. I can also work on a map when I get back to GIS work, and have access to the CPL documents to get accurate underground shapes.
I don't believe that photos of all the artworks are possible to include due to copyright restrictions, but one or two fair use photos (focusing on the most photogenic works like Ophamlos) would certainly be justifiable. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 02:01, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
I agree that GA status is a much saner goal than DYK; I'd forgotten that a newly-upgraded GA is also eligible for DYK anyway. I've found the 7-day DYK deadline to be a burden, especially when I have other priorities that pop up unexpectedly.
The Mass State Transportation Library (at Park Plaza in downtown Boston) is supposed to have the full collection of Red Line Northwest documents, as well as those for many other projects and studies that were never implemented. The staff there have been very helpful whenever I have visited, even giving me free access to their photocopiers; they are delighted to help serious researchers. The biggest drawback is that the Library is only open during standard office hours. It's good to know that Cambridge also has copies of some of the documents.
I agree that much of the related material belongs in other Wikipedia articles (and have worked on some of them). What should appear here is only a brief mention of the topical connections, with Wikilinks to further info. I enjoy connecting facts and knowledge among articles; the mentions here are somewhat a reminder to myself to add the appropriate links as the article develops here.
Your comprehensive and meticulous photography, and mapping/graphics fu are a major reason for the improvement in visual appeal and actual knowledge content of a lot of Wikipedia transportation articles. I'm glad you're interested in improving this article, and defer to your judgment and experience regarding photography incorporating public artworks, both as principal subjects and as background for other views.
The expansion of Harvard station was a significant development in construction, as the first major North American demonstration of new slurry wall technology imported from Europe. The tunnel boring machine was also relatively new in the US at the time. The complete excavation of a vast underground volume with almost no damage to adjacent structures, no major accidents affecting the public, and little interference above ground was something to be proud of. I only hope that the ongoing rebuilding of the Longfellow Bridge continues to proceed as smoothly (the coming big challenge will be temporarily relocating the Red Line tracks for the next construction phase).
The Red Line NW was a relatively successful forerunner that got overshadowed by the later Big Dig project. I remember early Big Dig proposals explicitly referring to the success of Red Line NW as proof of the feasibility of the new project and the competency of some of the prospective contractors. It's really unfortunate that the Big Dig missed its time and budget targets by such a wide margin, resulting in an ongoing financial hangover and the Boston public's deep suspicion of any large construction proposal. Reify-tech (talk) 15:40, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
Unless you have serious objections, the entirety of the "Location" section should be moved (with your copyedits) to the lede of Harvard Square. Good information, but no relevance to the station itself.
The State Transportation Library was boxed up and moved away about nine months ago, and literally no one seems to know where it is. I've pinged contacts at MassDOT and in the BPL and it's outright missing. Potentially a very sad end to a library that was so great under Sanbourn. A few items have appeared on this listing. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 00:26, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
I'll do the move as suggested. I'm surprised that I somehow missed the vanishing of the State Transportation Library. I wish I had heard about it earlier; I was just at a conference where I met a bunch of MBTA insiders, and would have asked them about it. What did they do with the nice space it used to occupy? Reify-tech (talk) 00:40, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
Sounds good. It's now filled with tables and chairs for MBTA employee training sessions. Pi.1415926535 (talk) 00:44, 15 April 2015 (UTC)

Length of Harvard Bus Tunnel[edit]

There's quite a distance from portal to portal via the curving tunnels. I have trouble measuring the path using Google Maps (among other difficulties, the scale keeps disappearing!). Can anybody figure this out accurately, either online or on paper? Reify-tech (talk) 20:09, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

Using the path shown on Mapnik, and Google Earth to measure, I estimate 0.25 mi. for the underground portion, 0.33 mi. overall (including the outdoor inclines near Cambridge St. and at Mt. Auburn St.). I would deem accuracy to be within a few percent. Calling the tunnel "about a quarter mile long" (400 m) should be reasonable. Hertz1888 (talk) 21:49, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the quick answer; I've already used it in the article. Reify-tech (talk) 00:40, 15 April 2015 (UTC)

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