Transit history/trivia quiz

The EGE

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As I do my station layout diagrams and historical research about the MBTA, I discover a lot of interesting tidbits like lesser-known entrances and corridors, weird historical connections, and useless trivia. I'd like to share some of it with all of you in the most obnoxious way: a quiz. Today's edition is all about Alewife, and you can find my layouts of the station here.

Please don't use the Wikipedia articles about the station or the Red Line, as many of the questions are pulled directly from there. But any other resources are fair game, including all the images on Wikimedia Commons. This isn't an easy quiz; wild guessing and silly answers are, of course, encouraged.
  1. The station is named for the Alewife Brook Parkway. What other current and former stations are named for parkways?
  2. The alewife is a fish which gives its name to the brook, and from there the parkway. At what other MBTA station could an alewife have a good time - and at what station would it have had a really bad time 2500 years ago?
  3. The underground concourse level is a maze. In how many different ways/places can you leave street level (via stairs, ramp, etc) for concourse level?
  4. What two public doors into the station are largely hidden except to some users of one specific mode? What doors are better known, but never used?
  5. What do Alewife, Harvard, Back Bay, Ruggles, and Wellington have in common?
  6. Of the seven examples of public art in the station, six were part of the Arts on the Line program. One wasn't - which? (A hint: the artist has another work elsewhere in the system.)
  7. One of the pieces has been moved. Why?
  8. There was never a railroad station at Alewife, but it was surrounded on every side by rail lines. Which of those lines was built twice some 75 years apart? How does that relate to this path?
  9. Many pieces of former railroad infrastructure in the area are now used by paths. What one piece is reused for another purpose?
  10. Eight (pre-covid) MBTA bus routes serve Alewife station - most of which were inherited by the MBTA from other companies. How many different companies were there among the original operators of the routes?
  11. What politician - whose name is more attached to a different transportation project - was an early supporter of an extension to the Alewife area?
  12. Almost all the residential and commercial development around Alewife was constructed along with the station or after it opened. What notable exception preceded it?
  13. Northwest Extension construction was often disruptive, but one location was vastly improved as a result of construction (not as a result of Red Line service). Where?
 

ceo

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8. When the Boston and Lowell bought out the Lexington and Arlington, they constructed a connection to their main line (what is now the Cambridge Linear Park and Somerville Community Path); the path by Thorndike Street is where that connection joined the Lexington Branch alignment. The connection to the Fitchburg Line was torn up, but was rebuilt by the Boston and Maine in the 1920s.
9. The road the main entrance is on (which is apparently Steel Place) is on the alignment of the Lexington Branch's aforementioned connection to the Fitchburg Line.
11. Tip O'Neill.
12. The public housing towers at 402 Rindge Ave.
13. The intersection of 16 and 2 next to the station. "Vastly improved" may be a... controversial description. :)
 

George_Apley

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I got guesses for some of them. I don't remember the public art in Alewife. Haven't been in that station for years, though it used to be my standard stop when I was a kid from the burbs.

The station is named for the Alewife Brook Parkway. What other current and former stations are named for parkways?
Fenway? That's all I got.

The alewife is a fish which gives its name to the brook, and from there the parkway. At what other MBTA station could an alewife have a good time - and at what station would it have had a really bad time 2500 years ago?
Gonna guess Stony Brook for part 1? Part II... Park St? Coz of the native fish traps archaeologists have uncovered?

The underground concourse level is a maze. In how many different ways/places can you leave street level (via stairs, ramp, etc) for concourse level?
Seven? Probably more than that.

What do Alewife, Harvard, Back Bay, Ruggles, and Wellington have in common?
There was never a railroad station at Alewife, but it was surrounded on every side by rail lines. Which of those lines was built twice some 75 years apart? How does that relate to this path?
Bedford Line? Did there used to be a station or a siding? Some burial site for Redcoats hacked down on their retreat in 1775?

Many pieces of former railroad infrastructure in the area are now used by paths. What one piece is reused for another purpose?
Probably not what you're getting at, but Russell Field sits on top of part of the old ROW. Same goes for the Thorndike Parking Lot. The trails diverge "off-track" in those spots.

Eight (pre-covid) MBTA bus routes serve Alewife station - most of which were inherited by the MBTA from other companies. How many different companies were there among the original operators of the routes?
3?

What politician - whose name is more attached to a different transportation project - was an early supporter of an extension to the Alewife area?
Gotta be Tip O'Neill

Almost all the residential and commercial development around Alewife was constructed along with the station or after it opened. What notable exception preceded it?
Summer Shack?

Northwest Extension construction was often disruptive, but one location was vastly improved as a result of construction (not as a result of Red Line service). Where?
Porter? Station plaza and headhouse covered up part of the trench.
 

JeffDowntown

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12. has two answers. Cambridge Discovery Park/Acorn Park (former ADL HQ) dates to 1953. Public housing towers on Rindge Ave.

13. Alewife Linear Path and abutting properties -- sits directly over the train tunnel from Davis to Alewife.
 

HenryAlan

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A former station named for a parkway: Arborway

I can't think of any other current stations.
 

JumboBuc

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1.The station is named for the Alewife Brook Parkway. What other current and former stations are named for parkways?
Fenway on the D
Riverway on the E
Revere Beach on the BL (does this count?)
(Former) Arborway on the E
(Hopefully relatively near future) Mystic Valley on the GLX

4. What two public doors into the station are largely hidden except to some users of one specific mode? What doors are better known, but never used
Are there station doors in the bike cage for the first Q? For the second Q, I dunno if ramps count as doors but some spiral ramp entrances have been closed for decades.

9. Many pieces of former railroad infrastructure in the area are now used by paths. What one piece is reused for another purpose?
Alewife Station Access Rd?

11. What politician - whose name is more attached to a different transportation project - was an early supporter of an extension to the Alewife area?
Dukakis?

12. Almost all the residential and commercial development around Alewife was constructed along with the station or after it opened. What notable exception preceded it?
Arthur D Little labs? WR Grace?

13. Northwest Extension construction was often disruptive, but one location was vastly improved as a result of construction (not as a result of Red Line service). Where?
The Cambridge Dump became Danehy Park thanks to dirt excavated for the extension.
 

The EGE

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8. When the Boston and Lowell bought out the Lexington and Arlington, they constructed a connection to their main line (what is now the Cambridge Linear Park and Somerville Community Path); the path by Thorndike Street is where that connection joined the Lexington Branch alignment. The connection to the Fitchburg Line was torn up, but was rebuilt by the Boston and Maine in the 1920s.
9. The road the main entrance is on (which is apparently Steel Place) is on the alignment of the Lexington Branch's aforementioned connection to the Fitchburg Line.
11. Tip O'Neill.
12. The public housing towers at 402 Rindge Ave.
13. The intersection of 16 and 2 next to the station. "Vastly improved" may be a... controversial description. :)
Exactly correct on 8, 11, and 12. I'll give partial credit for 9; Steel Place is on the ROW, though it doesn't reuse any infrastructure per se. (The bridge over Alewife Brook is not the original railroad bridge.)

The clusterfuck triangular interchange was not improved during RLNW construction - it fell behind due to inter-town friction and didn't start until September 1985.
 

The EGE

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I got guesses for some of them. I don't remember the public art in Alewife. Haven't been in that station for years, though it used to be my standard stop when I was a kid from the burbs.

Fenway? That's all I got.

Gonna guess Stony Brook for part 1? Part II... Park St? Coz of the native fish traps archaeologists have uncovered?

Seven? Probably more than that.

Bedford Line? Did there used to be a station or a siding? Some burial site for Redcoats hacked down on their retreat in 1775?

Probably not what you're getting at, but Russell Field sits on top of part of the old ROW. Same goes for the Thorndike Parking Lot. The trails diverge "off-track" in those spots.

3?

Gotta be Tip O'Neill

Summer Shack?

Porter? Station plaza and headhouse covered up part of the trench.
Lots of good guesses, but only fully correct on 11. Clever thoughts for 2; Stony Brook isn't too fish-friendly as a culvert, though I'll accept it. And yes to the fishweirs, but wrong station.

More than 7 ways, and more than 3 companies...
 

The EGE

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12. has two answers. Cambridge Discovery Park/Acorn Park (former ADL HQ) dates to 1953. Public housing towers on Rindge Ave.

13. Alewife Linear Path and abutting properties -- sits directly over the train tunnel from Davis to Alewife.
Double points for 12 - Rindge Towers was my intended answer. Your answer for 13 wasn't my original answer, but is equally good.
 

The EGE

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Fenway on the D
Riverway on the E
Revere Beach on the BL (does this count?)
(Former) Arborway on the E
(Hopefully relatively near future) Mystic Valley on the GLX

Are there station doors in the bike cage for the first Q? For the second Q, I dunno if ramps count as doors but some spiral ramp entrances have been closed for decades.

Alewife Station Access Rd?

Dukakis?

Arthur D Little labs? WR Grace?

The Cambridge Dump became Danehy Park thanks to dirt excavated for the extension.
Perfect score for 1. Revere Beach Boulevard isn't a parkway there, but the other 4 are all correct.

Very close for 4a, and partially there for 9, but need to be more specific.

Correct with Arthur D. Little. I'd argue WR Grace to be closer related to the various industries that previously populated the "industrial triangle" and its surroundings.

Correct for 13.
 

The EGE

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1, 8, 11, 12, and 13 have all been claimed; the others are still up for grabs.
 

The EGE

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Lacking any further interest (next round will be a little easier, I promise!), here are the remaining answers:

2: An alewife would have a good time at Aquarium - and a bad time at Arlington, site of the Boylston Street Fish Weir.
3: There are no less than 14 ways - two elevators, three ramps, and nine stairs (some of which lead to ramps) to leave street level for the concourse.
Alewife concourse + with numbering.png

4: On the south side of the glass pyramid, under the escalators to the garage, is an odd little lobby at street level. It has two sets of doors on either side of the east bike cage. (See here for one; the other is on the other side of the bike cage. I have no idea what their pre-bike-cage intent was; perhaps to provide access to the environmental artwork just to the south.

The mural Alewife Cows, located at the north end of the bus waiting area, is probably familiar to many riders. But the doors aren't real, so you can't use them.


5: All of them have a Dunkies in their lobby!

6: Turns out I was incorrect: there are actually eight pieces of public art. The two non-Arts on the Line pieces are The Alewife Reservation Mural Project by David Fichter (2004) and Sculpture as a Sign by Toshihiro Katayama (1985), both located outside the south end of the garage. Katayama also created Polychrome painted star, which is located in the passageway between the EB Blue Line and the Orange Line at State station.

7: One of the curved wooden benches, formerly located in the central atrium of the garage, was moved to the south entrance around 2008 to make room for a bike cage.

9: This concrete arch bridge carrying Alewife Brook Parkway, which the Fitchburg Cutoff formerly ran through, is now used by the exit road from the garage.

10: Seven different companies originated these routes. The 62 is the descendant of a the Lexington & Boston streetcar line, opened around 1898. The 67 was begun by Lovell Bus Lines in 1930. The 76 was begun by the Middlesex & Boston (which was a later operator of the 62 and 67) in 1947. The 79 was a 1985 MBTA creation. The 83 originated as a horsecar line of the Charles River Street Railway in the 1880s (though the extension on Rindge Avenue was not until 1974). The 84 was introduced by the MTA in 1953. The 350 was originally run by the Boston and Maine Railroad's bus subsidiary sometime in the 1920s-1940s; it was picked up by the Eastern Mass in 1957 and later transferred to the MBTA. The MBTA created the 351 in 1998.
 

ceo

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That concrete arch bridge is not the original bridge over the Fitchburg Cutoff, even though it's on the same ROW. There was a plate girder bridge there that was replaced when Alewife was built.
 

ceo

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I used to use that odd little lobby when I commuted from Lexington many years ago; running up those stairs and across the busway was the fastest way to get to the 76 bus if I was running late. If I missed it I had to take the 62 which was a lot slower.
 

The EGE

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That concrete arch bridge is not the original bridge over the Fitchburg Cutoff, even though it's on the same ROW. There was a plate girder bridge there that was replaced when Alewife was built.
You are correct - state bridge inventory says built in 1984. Thanks for the correction!
 

The EGE

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By my count, someone in a wheelchair can reach the platform at seven of the heavy rail (Red, Orange, and Blue) stations without needing an elevator. What are those seven - and which is the only non-terminal station on the system that only has faregates for one of its two platforms?
 

whighlander

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An alewife would have a good time at Aquarium - and a bad time at Arlington, site of the Boylston Street Fish Weir.

You have to argue it might be Copley instead of Arlington although it really wasn't located at either

The fish weir was re-discovered when the foundations were being dug for the John Hancock building -- with the Weather Beacon -- the building sits on a plot situated [between Berkley and Clarendon and between St James and Stuart St]
there had been some evidence uncovered in the early 20th C in the same general area
in 1990 a paper was published in Economic Botany " The boylston street fishweir: Revisited " -- the authors analyzed pollen from cores taken when 500 Boylston was being constructed [closer toward Copley] and their conclusion was that rather than the 1 big weir shown in the graphic in the Arlington Station -- the whole area possibly as far up Boylston as near the Pru was off and on over 1500 years outfitted with small fish weirs probably run for a season by an individual family

another paper supported by Hines the developer of 500 Boylston came to a similar conclusion


temp_view_06.jpg
temp_view_06a.jpg
 

Downburst

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Let's see... Airport, Wood Island, Orient Heights, Suffolk Downs, and Wonderland for Blue. I'm unsure about the Orange... Oak Grove seems to most likely but I have not been in some time. Clueless on Red.
 

whighlander

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More on Alewife's "times" both good and bad

On the good -- the best time would actually be at the New Charles River Damn [essentially North Station] where there is a fish ladder -- - constructed just for the benefit of the Alewife's anadromous habits
On the bad side -- I would suggest:
either Haymarket [Green & Orange] or Government Center [Blue & Green] both being close to Quincy Market -- a place where bulk fish was sold in times past
World Trade Center Station on the Silver Line near to the Fish Pier including Massport's Exchange Conference Center which formerly housed the Boston fish auction where alewife's could have been sold
 

The EGE

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You got 5/5 Blue Line stations. Oak Grove does have a ramp at the north end of the platform, but it's for an emergency exit only, so I didn't count it.
 

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