South Station

Boston, Massachusetts | C.1899

Photo Credit: Portia Nagano

When the historic South Station opened in Boston, Massachusetts on New Years Day 1899, its operations were overseen by the Boston Terminal Company made up of five separate railroad enterprises whose lines all converged on the city’s south side. Two years after its construction, additions to the station made it the largest train station in the entire world, and the largest building in the city of Boston.

By 1913, South Station was the busiest train station in the world, overseeing the travel of over 125,000 passengers every day during World War II.

Post-war America largely left behind passenger rail in the post-war period, however, as affordable cars and cheap gasoline fueled an automobile boom. Rail traffic at South Station declined dramatically, and passenger service was halted in 1959. The station sat empty for nearly two decades before being added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1975.

The gradual reopening of the Old Colony commuter rail service in the ’70s and ’80s caused a considerable rise in ridership, and South Station is fully operational today as the starting point of the Old Colony system. Approximately 36 million passengers board and depart trains at South Station every year.


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