Abandoned Broadway Streetcar Tunnel (Foundry Street, Boston)

The abandoned Broadway streetcar tunnel portal on Foundry Street in Boston, Massachusetts. (Image: Pi.1415926535. Foundry Street portal of Boston’s disused Broadway streetcar tunnel)

It now houses a $9 million Homeland Security-funded facility established to train first responders to deal with burning MBTA subway cars and buses in Boston, Massachusetts. But until recent times, passers-by could peer through the fence covering the concrete portal on Foundry Street, and gaze into the abandoned Broadway streetcar tunnel beyond.

(Image: Pi.1415926535. Looking down the old northbound streetcar trackbed.)

When Broadway station opened on December 15, 1917, at the intersection of Dorchester Avenue and Broadway in South Boston, it comprised three different levels, each with two tracks and an island platform. Six stairways allowed passengers to transfer easily between streetcars and subway trains on the various levels.

Southbound side of the abandoned Broadway streetcar tunnel. (Image: Pi.1415926535. Southbound side of the abandoned Broadway streetcar tunnel)

The street-level platform served trolleys on the No. 9 Streetcar Line, which ran between the Tremont Street Subway to City Point via the Pleasant Street Incline. The mid-level line, which used the now-abandoned Broadway streetcar tunnel and ran between Foundry Street and Dorchester Avenue, originally carried the line to Bay View. The lower level, meanwhile, remains open as part of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Red Line, and in 1985 received a major upgrade in to install elevators and lengthen its island platform to accommodate six-car subway trains.

Since 1985 Broadway ticket hall has occupied part of the abandoned trolley tunnel. (Image: Pi.1415926535. Broadway ticket hall occupies part of abandoned trolley tunnel)

On the mid-level, above, the Broadway streetcar tunnel had remained in operation for just two years. It closed in October 1919 after the opening of Andrew station, which was more profitable and better located for commuters in South Boston. Having stood disused for two decades, the Dorchester Avenue portal was infilled in December 1941. Still, much of the tunnel survived beneath the surface, hidden away from public view. A small section was transformed into a new ticket hall (above) as part of the 1985 upgrade of the Red Line station.

(Image: Pi.1415926535. Sloping roof of the disused tunnel from above)

The only other indication of its continued existence was the portal in Foundry Street, which for years stood abandoned and fenced off, apart from the odd attempt to repurpose the forgotten space. It was reportedly¬†even used for mushroom growing in the 1930s by the Boston Elevated Railway Company. Half a century later, in the early ’80s, another adaptive reuse project saw the disused platform used to test rubber safety edging strips for blind passengers.

The disused Broadway streetcar tunnel is now a $9 million Homeland Security-funded facility run by the MBTA as an emergency training centre for first responders dealing with burning subway cars and buses. (Image: Google Street View. Foundry Street now houses MBTA Emergency Training Center)

But when the tragic events of September 11, 2001 refocused attention on safety and infrastructure, the MBTA began using the tunnel to drill first responders on how to tackle a burning subway train beneath Boston’s busy streets. Finally, in 2013, a permanent emergency training centre was opened in the abandoned Broadway streetcar tunnel.

Marker shows location of the disused Foundry Street portal which once carried trolleys underground to Broadway station. (Image: Google Earth. Marker shows location of Foundry Street portal)

Funded by the Departmnent of Homeland Security, the $9 million facility includes one Green and two Blue Line subway cars, and a Silver Line bus. Its facade is a far cry from the old trolley tunnel portal that dominated the location for almost a century. But even so, it’s good to see this historic facility find meaningful reuse.

Related: 8 Abandoned Tram Tunnels and Trolley Graveyards

 

About the author: Tom

 

Website: https://www.urbanghostsmedia.com

 

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