Boston Elevated Railway
The Boston Elevated Railway was a streetcar and rapid transit railroad operated on, below, the streets of Boston and surrounding communities. Founded in 1894, it acquired the West End Street Railway via lease and merger to become the city's primary mass transit provider, its modern successor is the state-run Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which continues to operate in part on infrastructure developed by BERy and its predecessors. Intended to build a short electric trolley line to Brookline, the West End Street Railway was organized in 1887. By the next year it had consolidated ownership of a number of horse-drawn streetcar lines, composing a fleet of 7816 horses and 1480 rail vehicles; as the system grew, a switch to underground pulled-cable propulsion was contemplated. After visiting Frank Sprague and witnessing the Richmond, Virginia system in action, WESR President Henry Whitney chose to deploy electric propulsion systems. A section of track was used to test the Bentley-Knight underground power line, but this was abandoned because of failures and safety concerns.
After competing in operational tests with the Sprague streetcar system, the Thomson-Houston company was chosen for system-wide deployment of overhead wires. The electrified rapid transit system was named an IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering in 2004; the first electric trolley line built by the West End Street Railway was between Union Square and Park Square, via Harvard Street, Beacon Street, Massachusetts Avenue and Boylston Street. Trolleys first ran in 1889; the Green Line "A" Branch served the same purpose. The last horse car line was along Marlborough Street in the Back Bay, was never electrified, it was closed around 1900. In the late 19th century, the electric power industry was in its infancy; the railway company constructed its own power stations. By 1904, the system had 36 megawatts of generating capacity, 421 miles of track for over 1550 street cars, 16 miles of elevated track for 174 elevated cars. On 7 November 1916, Boston Elevated Railway Co. street car No. 393 smashed through the warning gates of the open Summer Street drawbridge in Boston, plunging into the frigid waters of Fort Point Channel, killing 46 people.
The first bus route was in 1922, between Union Square and Faneuil Street. In 1933 this was merged with the Union Square - Central bus and became the 64 bus. In 1890, the West End Railway was authorized by the state to construct elevated railways, but did not pursue this possibility; the state authorized a new franchise for such an endeavor, which resulted in the founding in 1894 in the establishment of the Boston Elevated Railway. The first stretch of elevated track was put in service in 1901, between Sullivan Square in Charlestown and Dudley Square in Roxbury. In 1897, BERy acquired a long-term lease on the West End's lines, the two companies were formally merged in 1922; the elevated network was expanded to include six end-points, with vehicles run on the tracks in routes designed to allow passengers to reach any destination without changing trains. The difficulty of transporting coal over land from the Port of Boston and the short range of the direct current system prevented significant expansion inland.
In 1911, a large generating station was built in South Boston which produced 25 Hertz alternating current, which could be transmitted long distances at high voltage, to substations which would drop the voltage and convert it to direct current for use by trains. The system was converted until completion in 1931, when 14 substations were in place; this station would operate until 1981, when the MBTA had completed converting all of the active substations to be able to use 60 Hertz alternating current, could switch to purchasing energy from local utility companies instead of running its own generators. The first route of the Boston trackless trolley system was opened by BERy, on April 11, 1936, it was Harvard -- Lechmere via Cambridge Street. Trackless trolleys still run from Harvard station, but only to the west and north, not east to Lechmere since 1963; the company's rapid transit lines have evolved into the Red and Orange Lines. The only streetcars that remain are the various branches of the Green Line and the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line.
The Boston Elevated Railway operated in the following cities and towns: Arlington Belmont Boston and the municipalities that have been merged into it Brookline Cambridge Chelsea Everett Malden Medford Newton Revere Somerville Stoneham WatertownAdditionally, streetcars from adjoining towns, run by other companies, operated over Boston Elevated Railway trackage. Operations of the companies were taken over by the Metropolitan Transit Authority, now the MBTA, in 1947. Cheney, Frank; when Boston rode the El. Charleston, SC: Arcadia. ISBN 978-0-7385-0462-9; the Boston Elevated Railway Company. Library records, 1884-1967 are located in the Northeastern University Libraries and Special Collections Department, Boston, MA
Ashmont is an intermodal transit station in Boston, Massachusetts. Located at Peabody Square in the Dorchester neighborhood, serves the MBTA's Red Line rapid transit line, the Ashmont–Mattapan High Speed Line, the MBTA Bus system, it is the southern terminus of the Red Line's Dorchester Branch, the northern terminus of the Ashmont–Mattapan Line. Ashmont station is accessible for all modes; the first Ashmont station was a simple building along the original Shawmut Branch of the Old Colony Railroad, which opened in 1872. That was when steam locomotives powered the passenger trains that continued into Boston with a stop at Fields Corner; the current intermediate Shawmut station was not created as a train stop until the Shawmut Branch of the steam railroad was adapted to electrified subway service in the late 1920s and placed underground as it approached Ashmont. When first built in 1928, no buses served the station; the following Boston Elevated Railway streetcar lines operated to Ashmont, unloading on the east side and loading on the two west tracks on the west side: 22 Ruggles via Talbot Avenue 23 Ruggles via Washington Street, Dorchester 27 Mattapan Station via River St.
Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway cars to Brockton used the station. Two streetcar lines serving the area west of Ashmont were bustituted soon after opening becoming the 25 and 26 buses, they were rerouted to Ashmont for faster access to downtown. A new busway was built on the west side of the station in 1929; the first section of the Mattapan High Speed Line opened in 1929, serving the easternmost track on the west side. The Eastern Massachusetts Street Railway line converted to bus in 1932; the 27 was bustituted in 1933, a new route serving the area east of the station was added. Additionally the Eastern Mass started running buses over what are now 217 routes; the ramps were paved, in 1949 the trolleybus replaced the 22 and 23 lines. In 2005, the MBTA awarded a $35.2 million contract for the complete reconstruction of the 75-year-old Ashmont station. The station was razed by September 2007 and the station was rebuilt. Trolley service was interrupted for 18 months, but was restored in December 2007.
The reconstruction was completed in 2009, while architectural work lasted until the summer of 2011. Highlights of the project included: New platforms and an elevated viaduct for the Ashmont–Mattapan High Speed Line Two new lobbies with access at the station An elevated busway, level with the new lobbies Public access over the subway tunnel to Peabody Square Three new elevators and two new escalators CCTV security cameras and enhanced lighting Charlie Card automated fare vending machines and fare gatesThe station construction included of a first-of-its-kind transit-oriented development on the station site; the 116 units of mixed-income housing represent the state, city, MBTA, community and a private developer's combined effort to provide housing adjacent to rapid transit, thereby reducing automobile usage. In September 2011, a "HOLD" sign was installed on the trolley platform to allow an easier connection for those transferring from the Red Line. Ashmont is a major terminal for the MBTA Bus system, with seven local routes serving the station busway: 18 Ashmont Station - Andrew Station via Fields Corner Station 21 Ashmont Station - Forest Hills Station via Morton Street 22 Ashmont Station - Ruggles Station via Talbot Avenue & Jackson Square 23 Ashmont Station - Ruggles Station via Washington Street 27 Mattapan Station - Ashmont Station via River Street 215 Quincy Center Station - Ashmont Station via West Quincy & East Milton Square 240 Avon Square or Holbrook/Randolph Commuter Rail Station - Ashmont Station via Crawford Square, RandolphThe Brockton Area Transit Authority operates one bus route to Ashmont - one of the only non-MBTA routes running to an MBTA rapid transit station: Ashmont Route 12 MBTA - Ashmont Cambridge Seven Associates project page Station from Google Maps Street View
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is the public agency responsible for operating most public transportation services in Greater Boston, Massachusetts. Earlier modes of public transportation in Boston were independently operated; the MTA was replaced in 1964 with the present-day MBTA, established as an individual department within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts before becoming a division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation in 2009. The MBTA and Philadelphia's Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority are the only U. S. transit agencies that operate all five major types of terrestrial mass transit vehicles: light rail vehicles. In 2016, the system averaged 1,277,200 passengers per weekday, of which heavy rail averaged 552,500 and the light-rail lines 226,500, making it the fourth-busiest subway system and the busiest light rail system in the United States; the MBTA is the largest consumer of electricity in Massachusetts, the second-largest land owner. In 2007, its CNG bus fleet was the largest consumer of alternative fuels in the state.
The MBTA operates an independent law enforcement agency, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police. Mass transportation in Boston was provided by private companies granted charters by the state legislature for limited monopolies, with powers of eminent domain to establish a right-of-way, until the creation of the MTA in 1947. Development of mass transportation both shaped economic and population patterns. Shortly after the steam locomotive became practical for mass transportation, the private Boston and Lowell Railroad was chartered in 1830, connecting Boston to Lowell, a major northerly mill town in northeast Massachusetts' Merrimack Valley, via one of the oldest railroads in North America; this marked the beginning of the development of American intercity railroads, which in Massachusetts would become the MBTA Commuter Rail system and the Green Line "D" Branch. Starting with the opening of the Cambridge Railroad on March 26, 1856, a profusion of streetcar lines appeared in Boston under chartered companies.
Despite the change of companies, Boston is the city with the oldest continuously working streetcar system in the world. Many of these companies consolidated, animal-drawn vehicles were converted to electric propulsion. Streetcar congestion in downtown Boston led to the subways in 1897 and elevated rail in 1901; the Tremont Street subway was the first rapid transit tunnel in the United States. Grade-separation avoided delays caused by cross streets; the first elevated railway and the first rapid transit line in Boston were built three years before the first underground line of the New York City Subway, but 34 years after the first London Underground lines, long after the first elevated railway in New York City, its Ninth Avenue El started operations on July 1, 1868 in Manhattan as an elevated cable car line. Various extensions and branches were added at both ends; as grade-separated lines were extended, street-running lines were cut back for faster downtown service. The last elevated heavy rail or "El" segments in Boston were at the extremities of the Orange Line: its northern end was relocated in 1975 from Everett to Malden, MA, its southern end was relocated into the Southwest Corridor in 1987.
However, the Green Line's Causeway Street Elevated remained in service until 2004, when it was relocated into a tunnel with an incline to reconnect to the Lechmere Viaduct. The Lechmere Viaduct and a short section of steel-framed elevated at its northern end remain in service, though the elevated section will be cut back and connected to a northwards viaduct extension in 2017 as part of the Green Line Extension; the old elevated railways proved to be an eyesore and required several sharp curves in Boston's twisty streets. The Atlantic Avenue Elevated was closed in 1938 amidst declining ridership and was demolished in 1942; as rail passenger service became unprofitable due to rising automobile ownership, government takeover prevented abandonment and dismantlement. The MTA purchased and took over subway, elevated and bus operations from the Boston Elevated Railway in 1947. In the 1950s, the MTA ran new subway extensions, while the last two streetcar lines running into the Pleasant Street Portal of the Tremont Street Subway were substituted with buses in 1953 and 1962.
In 1958 the MTA purchased the Highland Branch from the Boston and Albany Railroad, reopening a year as rapid transit line. While the operations of the MTA were stable by the early 1960s, the operated commuter rail lines were in freefall; the New Haven Railroad, New York Central Railroad, Boston and Maine Railroad were all financially struggling. The 1945 Coolidge Commission plan assumed that most of the commuter rail lines would be replaced by shorter rapid transit extensions, or feed into them at reduced service levels. Passenger service on the entire Old Colony Railroad system serving the southeastern part of the state was abandoned by the New Haven Railroad in 1959, triggering calls for state intervention. Between January 1963 and March 1964, the Mass Transportation Commission tested differe
Orange Line (MBTA)
The Orange Line is one of the four subway lines of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. It extends from Forest Hills in Jamaica Plain, Boston in the south to Oak Grove in Malden in the north, it meets the Red Line at Downtown Crossing, the Blue Line at State, the Green Line at Haymarket and North Station. It connects with Amtrak service at Back Bay and North Station, with MBTA Commuter Rail service at Back Bay, North Station, Forest Hills, Ruggles station in Roxbury, Malden Center in Malden. From 1901 to 1987, it provided the first elevated rapid transit in Boston. All stations on the Orange Line are handicapped accessible; these stations are equipped with high-level platforms for easy boarding, as well as elevators for easy platform access. The Main Line of the electric Boston Elevated Railway opened in segments, starting in 1901, it proceeded from Sullivan Square along the Charlestown Elevated to the Canal Street Incline near North Station. It was carried underground by the Tremont Street Subway, returning above ground at the Pleasant Street Incline.
A temporary link connected from there to the Washington Street Elevated, which in 1901 ran from this point via Washington Street to Dudley Square. In 1901, the Atlantic Avenue Elevated opened, branching at Causeway Street to provide an alternate route through downtown Boston to the Washington Street Elevated. In 1908, a new Washington Street Tunnel opened, allowing Main Line service to travel from the Charlestown Elevated, underground via an additional new portal at the Canal Street Incline, under downtown Boston and back up again to meet the Washington Street Elevated and Atlantic Avenue Elevated near Chinatown. Use of the parallel Tremont Street Subway was returned to streetcars. By 1909, the Washington Street Elevated had been extended south to Forest Hills. Trains from Washington Street were routed through the new subway, either all the way to Sullivan Square, or back around in a loop via the subway and the Atlantic Avenue Elevated. In 1919, the same year that the Atlantic Avenue Elevated was damaged in Boston's Great Molasses Flood, the Charlestown Elevated was extended north from Sullivan Square to Everett, over surface right-of-way parallel to Alford Street/Broadway, with a drawbridge over the Mystic River.
The Boston Elevated had long-term plans to continue this extension further north to Malden, a goal which would only be achieved decades under public ownership and not via the Everett route. Following a 1928 accident at a tight curve on Beach Street, the southern portion of the Atlantic Avenue Elevated, between South Station and Tower D on Washington Street, was closed, breaking the loop. In 1938, the remainder of the Atlantic Avenue Elevated was closed, leaving the subway as the only route through downtown - what is now the Orange Line between Haymarket and Chinatown stations. Ownership of the railway was transferred from the private Boston Elevated Railway to the public Metropolitan Transit Authority in 1947; the line was known as the Main Line Elevated under the Boston Elevated Railway, the Forest Hills–Everett Elevated under the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. After taking over operations in August 1964, the MBTA began rebranding many elements of Boston's public transportation network.
Colors were assigned to the rail lines on August 26, 1965 as part of a wider modernization developed by Cambridge Seven Associates. Peter Chermayeff assigned red and blue to the other three lines based on geographic features; the firm planned for yellow instead of orange, but yellow was rejected after testing because yellow text was difficult to read on a white background.. The MBTA and transit historians claimed that orange came from Orange Street, an early name for what is now part of Washington Street. In January and February 1967, the four original Washington Street Tunnel stations were renamed. Transfer stations were given the same name for all lines: Winter and Summer stations plus Washington on the Red Line became Washington and State plus Devonshire on the Blue Line became State Street after the cross street, Union and Friend plus Haymarket Square on the Green Line became Haymarket after Haymarket Square. Boylston Street was renamed Essex to avoid confusion with nearby Boylston station on the Green Line.
In May 1987, Essex was renamed Chinatown after the adjacent Chinatown neighborhood, Washington renamed Downtown Crossing after the adjacent shopping district. In March 2010, New England Medical Center station was renamed as Tufts Medical Center two years after the eponymous hospital changed its name; the Boston Transportation Planning Review looked at the line in the 1970s, considering extensions to reach the Route 128 beltway, with termini at Reading in the north and Dedham in the south. As a result of this review, the Charlestown Elevated - which served the Charlestown neighborhood north of downtown Boston and the inner suburb of Everett - was demolished and replaced in 1975; the Haymarket North Extension rerouted the Orange Line through an under
Old Colony Railroad
The Old Colony Railroad was a major railroad system covering southeastern Massachusetts and parts of Rhode Island. It operated from 1845 to 1893. Old Colony trains ran from Boston to points such as Plymouth, Fall River, New Bedford, Providence, Fitchburg and Cape Cod. For many years the Old Colony Railroad Company operated steamboat and ferry lines, including those of the Fall River Line with express train service from Boston to its wharf in Fall River where passengers boarded luxury liners to New York City; the company briefly operated a railroad line on Martha's Vineyard, as well as the freight-only Union Freight Railroad in Boston. The OC was named after the nickname for the Plymouth Colony. From 1845 to 1893, the OC network grew extensively through a series of mergers and acquisitions with other established railroads, until it was itself acquired by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad under lease agreement on March 1, 1893 for its entire 617-mile network. After this date, all trains and stations became known as the "Old Colony Division" of the huge "New Haven" system.
During this period, the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad enjoyed a virtual monopoly on all passenger and freight rail service in southern New England. Passenger service on the New Haven Railroad's Old Colony Division ended in 1959, except for the main line between Boston and Providence, which continues to be used for passenger service by Amtrak and the MBTA. Since 1997, other former OC lines have been reopened to passenger service, including the MBTA's Old Colony Lines with service from Boston to Plymouth and Middleborough/Lakeville. In 2007, MBTA passenger service was restored on the Greenbush Line between Braintree and Greenbush Station in Scituate; the MBTA has plans to restore passenger service to Fall River and New Bedford as part of the South Coast Rail project. Other parts of the former OC system continue to be used for freight service by CSX Transportation and other short line railroads, including the Massachusetts Coastal Railroad which operates on Cape Cod and in southeastern Massachusetts.
Parts of the former OC on Cape Cod are still used to operate the Cape Cod Central Railroad tourist train from Hyannis to Buzzards Bay during the summer and fall months. Another tourist railroad, the Old Colony and Newport Scenic Railway operates on part of the former OC from Newport, Rhode Island on Aquidneck Island. Several abandoned portions of the OC have been converted into multi-use rail trails; these include the East Bay Bike Path in Rhode Island, as well as others in Lowell and Fairhaven, Massachusetts and the Cape Cod Rail Trail on Cape Cod. By the early 1840s, the city of Boston had six major rail lines connecting it with other places including Lowell, Maine and Salem to the north, Worcester to the west and Providence, Rhode Island to the southwest; the southeastern part of Massachusetts had yet to be served by a rail link to Boston. On March 16, 1844 the Old Colony Railroad Corporation was formed to provide a rail connection between Boston and Plymouth, Massachusetts. Construction of the line began in South Boston in June 1844 and the 36.8-mile line opened to Plymouth on November 10, 1845.
The extension from South Boston to the newly completed Kneeland Street in Boston opened on June 19, 1847. Kneeland Street Station served as the headquarters for the OC until the 1893 consolidation. There had been an Old Colony Railroad formed in 1838 for a line between Taunton and New Bedford, but the name was changed to the New Bedford and Taunton Railroad in 1839 before service began in 1840; this line would become part of OC in 1879. John Sever of Kingston, Massachusetts served as the first president of the Old Colony Railroad Corporation from 1844-1845. Nathan Carruth served as the second president of the corporation from 1845 to 1848. Carruth was a successful businessman and enthusiastic supporter of the expansion of railroads in Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England. With the opening of the Old Colony line through Dorchester in 1845, Carruth became involved in the development of the area, he built an estate on the east side of Dorchester Avenue called Beechmont/Beaumont which would become one of the first railroad suburbs in America.
All OC locomotives were named until 1884, when they were just numbered. Among the early engines were the Mayflower, Governor Carver, Governor Bradford and Miles Standish; the new railroad company built the Samoset Hotel near the end of its line in Plymouth. In 1847, the OC completed a short 6.2-mile connector line from its main line at Whitman to the Fall River Railroad line at Bridgewater Junction. On April 1, 1849, OC signed a lease of the South Shore Railroad for a period of five years. By 1851, traffic on the line had increased enough to warrant the opening of a second track running between Boston and South Braintree; the OC and Fall River Railroad merged with a joint stock vote on June 20, 1854, forming the Old Colony and Fall River Railroad Company, which provided a two-pronged line from Boston to Plymouth and Boston to Fall River, splitting at South Braintree. Alexander Holmes from Kingston served as company president during this period, from 1854 to 1866; the Fall River Railroad had been formed on August 1845 with consolidation of three companies.
The Fall River Railroad was led by Richard Borden, a prominent mill owner in Fall River who wanted a direct route from his city to Boston, which did not require use of the Boston and Providence Railroad lines. The line from South Braintree to Myricks in the town of Berkley opened on December 16, 1846 as an extension of the Fall Riv
Green Line "D" Branch
The "D" Branch of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Green Line known as the Highland Branch or the Riverside Line, is a light rail line in west Boston, Massachusetts. It branches off near Kenmore Square from the Tremont Street Subway and Boylston Street subway from downtown shared with the other light rail lines, it continues west for about ten miles on a private surface right of way the Highland Branch of the Boston and Albany Railroad. The right of way is double tracked throughout without express tracks, it is grade separated from roads and highways, though there are pedestrian crossings at stations and in Webster Conservation Area in Newton. As of 2019, the downtown terminus is at Government Center. Free transfer is provided to the rapid transit lines and other light rail lines at the various subway stops; the "D" Branch was the most recent light rail line to be built in the Boston area, opening in 1959. It was built on the Boston and Albany Railroad's Highland Branch, which closed in 1958 for the conversion.
The route has varied scenery, passing golf courses, residential neighborhoods, woods and small town centers. The Newton Center and Newton Highlands stations still feature Richardsonian Romanesque station buildings designed by Shepley and Coolidge in the 1890s; the first section of what became the Highland Branch was built by the Boston and Worcester Railroad between Boston and Brookline in 1847. The Charles River Branch Railroad, a forerunner of the New York and New England Railroad, extended the line to Newton Upper Falls in 1852; the B&A, successor to the Boston and Worcester, bought the line in 1883 and extended to Riverside, rejoining its main line there. The B&A instituted loop service, going one way to Riverside on the main line and the other way on the Highland Branch. In 1906 the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad built a new cutoff from Needham Junction east to their Dedham Branch at West Roxbury, began routing NY&NE trains that way. However, in 1911, they too began running loop service on the "Needham Circuit", running one way on the old Boston and Providence Railroad to West Roxbury and the other way on the B&A Highland Branch.
NYNH&H service through Newton stopped in 1925 and the last B&A train ran over the Highland Branch on May 31, 1958. From mid-1958 to mid-1959, the Highland Branch from Riverside to Fenway was converted to light rail by Boston's Metropolitan Transit Authority; this was to be a low budget project and the light rail option was chosen over third rail rapid transit trains because the last two miles to downtown would be via an existing light rail subway. The primary $7M contract was let to the Perini Corporation with an additional $2M for work by the MTA, of which part was designated for added land purchases. With the Riverside terminal just off what is now Interstate 95 and a mile from today's I-90, the line would be a showpiece of park and ride mass transit from distant suburbs using an existing railroad right of way; the major project parts included the following: Overhead wire 600 volt DC electrification was installed with a new substation at Cook St. Junction, between Eliot and Newton Highlands.
The existing 105 lb. rails were for the most part kept. Replacing worn rail sections and reballasting was done only where needed. A connection was made to the existing subway under Beacon St. leading to Kenmore Square, Boylston St. and the Boston Common. Simple ground level paved platforms were installed or upgraded at each of the 12 stops Woodland to Fenway. Three aspect color light block signals were added to support a closest train spacing at about a 2-minute headway from Riverside to Reservoir and a 1-minute headway from Reservoir to Fenway; the original station buildings were demolished except at Newton Highlands and Newton Centre and one other location, not an intended stop. Small wood frame shelters were added on the inbound side of 11 stops, Woodland to Longwood, with a similar shelter added on the outbound side at a few stops. A roadway overpass provided shelter at Fenway. A larger waiting room was built at Riverside and this was used as a ticketing office by intercity bus lines; the new Riverside terminal complex was southwest of the original B&A Riverside platforms, fronted Grove St.
A yard holding about 30 cars, half of the fleet needed for the line, was built at Riverside. Most of the yard was paved. Additional car storage tracks were built just inbound of Reservoir Station next to the existing Reservoir Carhouse. A grade separated outbound to inbound short turn loop was added just west of the station. Park and ride lots were built at several stops, the lot at Riverside being the largest, holding nearly 2000 automobiles while the lot at Woodland was second largest, holding about 350 autos. Due to budget constraints, no rolling stock was purchased. About sixty Presidents Conference Committee cars were taken from the existing 340 odd car fleet for use on the Highland Branch. To free up these cars, MTA General Manager Edward Dana discontinued some existing light rail services including the Waverley to Harvard Square, Watertown Square to Harvard Square and North Cambridge to Harvard Square routes; those three were converted to electric trolley bus operation. Light rail operation began on the Highland Branch on July 4, 1959, with single cars or 2 and 3 car trains, running from Riverside or Reservoir to Park St. Station downtown.
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Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles with an estimated population of 685,094 in 2017, making it the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999; the city is the economic and cultural anchor of a larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area, this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth-largest in the United States. Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, founded on the Shawmut Peninsula in 1630 by Puritan settlers from England, it was the scene of several key events of the American Revolution, such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Siege of Boston.
Upon gaining U. S. independence from Great Britain, it continued to be an important port and manufacturing hub as well as a center for education and culture. The city has expanded beyond the original peninsula through land reclamation and municipal annexation, its rich history attracts many tourists, with Faneuil Hall alone drawing more than 20 million visitors per year. Boston's many firsts include the United States' first public park, first public or state school and first subway system; the Boston area's many colleges and universities make it an international center of higher education, including law, medicine and business, the city is considered to be a world leader in innovation and entrepreneurship, with nearly 2,000 startups. Boston's economic base includes finance and business services, information technology, government activities. Households in the city claim the highest average rate of philanthropy in the United States; the city has one of the highest costs of living in the United States as it has undergone gentrification, though it remains high on world livability rankings.
Boston's early European settlers had first called the area Trimountaine but renamed it Boston after Boston, England, the origin of several prominent colonists. The renaming on September 7, 1630, was by Puritan colonists from England who had moved over from Charlestown earlier that year in quest for fresh water, their settlement was limited to the Shawmut Peninsula, at that time surrounded by the Massachusetts Bay and Charles River and connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. The peninsula is thought to have been inhabited as early as 5000 BC. In 1629, the Massachusetts Bay Colony's first governor John Winthrop led the signing of the Cambridge Agreement, a key founding document of the city. Puritan ethics and their focus on education influenced its early history. Over the next 130 years, the city participated in four French and Indian Wars, until the British defeated the French and their Indian allies in North America. Boston was the largest town in British America until Philadelphia grew larger in the mid-18th century.
Boston's oceanfront location made it a lively port, the city engaged in shipping and fishing during its colonial days. However, Boston stagnated in the decades prior to the Revolution. By the mid-18th century, New York City and Philadelphia surpassed Boston in wealth. Boston encountered financial difficulties as other cities in New England grew rapidly. Many of the crucial events of the American Revolution occurred near Boston. Boston's penchant for mob action along with the colonists' growing distrust in Britain fostered a revolutionary spirit in the city; when the British government passed the Stamp Act in 1765, a Boston mob ravaged the homes of Andrew Oliver, the official tasked with enforcing the Act, Thomas Hutchinson the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. The British sent two regiments to Boston in 1768 in an attempt to quell the angry colonists; this did not sit well with the colonists. In 1770, during the Boston Massacre, the army killed several people in response to a mob in Boston.
The colonists compelled the British to withdraw their troops. The event was publicized and fueled a revolutionary movement in America. In 1773, Britain passed the Tea Act. Many of the colonists saw the act as an attempt to force them to accept the taxes established by the Townshend Acts; the act prompted the Boston Tea Party, where a group of rebels threw an entire shipment of tea sent by the British East India Company into Boston Harbor. The Boston Tea Party was a key event leading up to the revolution, as the British government responded furiously with the Intolerable Acts, demanding compensation for the lost tea from the rebels; this led to the American Revolutionary War. The war began in the area surrounding Boston with the Battles of Concord. Boston itself was besieged for a year during the Siege of Boston, which began on April 19, 1775; the New England militia impeded the movement of the British Army. William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe the commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America, led the British army in the siege.
On June 17, the British captured the Charlestown peninsula in Boston, during the Battle of Bunker Hill. The British army outnumbered the militia stationed there, but it was a Py