Orange Line

December 2014, Orange Line, Jamaica Plain

new year

celeberating on the orange line (sonya kovacic)

celeberating on the orange line (sonya kovacic)

Today, Americans are used to a calendar with a "year" based the earth's rotation around the sun, with "months" having no relationship to the cycles of the moon and New Years Day falling on January 1. However, that system was not adopted in England and its colonies until 1752. 

-Connecticut State Library

Before 1752, England and its colonies followed the Julian Calendar (named after Julius Caesar). New Year's varied from country to country, and England preferred to celebrate it on March 25th because of the Christian holiday, Annunciation Day or Lady Day, when Mary found out she was pregnant.

The Boston Globe explains the change, "over time, the misalignment of dates made trade between Britain and the rest of Europe difficult. The British mercantile class began to agitate for calendar reform, and the government finally relented with the Calendar Act of 1751, which declared that as of 1752, Britain and its colonies would adopt the Gregorian system, including its Jan. 1 New Year. It created a very strange year, in which 1751 started in March, but 1752 started the following January; the next September was shortened by 11 days to shift the overall calendar into alignment with Gregorian timekeeping."

First Night is a celebration of New Year's Eve that takes place in cities all over North America. The first First Night actually occurred in Boston in 1975, and was formed by a group of artists. Check out this year's schedule.

Another Boston tradition is the annual L Street Brownies New Year’s Day Swim that started in 1904 in Dorchester Bay. According to the city of Boston, the "Brownies are the oldest “polar bear” swimming club in America." Take a look at a video of a 1969 L Street Brownies winter swim.

If you are interested in participating this year, the swim is hosted by the BCYF Curley Community Center, 1663 Columbia Road in South Boston, and takes place at the “K” Street entrance of the center. The swim starts at 9:30 a.m. Doors open at 8:00 a.m. and close at 11:00 a.m. 

Jamaica Plain, November 2014, Orange Line

park square

old advertisement; stony brook station, orange line (sonya kovacic)

old advertisement; stony brook station, orange line (sonya kovacic)

Park Square was once the main hub of the Boston & Providence Railroad; the railroad, completed in 1835, connected Boston to Providence. After the opening of South Station in 1899, the Park Square Railroad Station was abandoned.

UMass Boston, the second university in the UMass system, also made its home in Park Square. After increased demands for a public university outside of Amherst, UMass Boston was founded in 1965, and was located in the Park Square Building. In 1974, it moved to its current location in Columbia Point, Dorchester. Currently, the Park Square Building is a commercial space, home to restaurants (Maggiano's anyone?) and businesses.

There also used to be a bus depot in Park Square where, the grasshopper weathervane from Faneuil Hall, was supposedly hidden.

Learn more about the evolution of Park Square and see pictures of the old Park Square Railroad Station here. 

Orange Line, July 2014, South End


mass ave station  (sonya kovacic)

mass ave station (sonya kovacic)

How many steps it takes to get to the top (or bottom) of these local landmarks?

  • 12 – The original Cheers
  • 15  – Musical stairs at the Museum of Science
  • 116 – The Pilgrim Monument (Provincetown)
  • 120 – Boston College's "Million Dollar Stairs"
  • 199 – Porter Square Station
  • 294 – The Bunker Hill Monument
  • 789 – One Boston Place
  •  1,632 – The John Hancock Tower


(The world's longest staircase is in the Swiss Alps, next to an inclined railway — it's 11,674 steps. The stairs are only open to the public one day per year, during the Niesenlauf race.)

Every Wednesday at 6:30 am, the November Project invites you to do the stairs at Harvard Stadium.

Jamaica Plain, Orange Line, May 2014


charlie on the b line  (sonya kovacic)

charlie on the b line (sonya kovacic)

The CharlieCard — which made its debut in 2006 — was named after the main character in "The M.T.A. Song." As the story goes, Charlie can't afford the new exit fare, so he gets stuck on the train forever.

Although the song was popularized by the Kingston Trio in 1959, it was originally a 1949 campaign song for Walter A. O'Brien. O'Brien was running for mayor of Boston with a strong opposition to the public transit fare increase. His campaign couldn't afford radio ads at the time, so he hired folk bands to play his campaign songs (including "The M.T.A. Song") from a touring truck.

The songs didn't exactly work — he was later fined $10 for "disturbing the peace," and ultimately lost the election.

Two undergrads have developed a wearable CharlieCard that is now available for purchase. Meet the Sesame Ring.