Sunday, February 18, 2007

GLOBE: Arlington Station renovations

Mac Daniel in the Sunday Globe writes about history being found at the Arlington subway stop on the Green Line something we wrote about 2 months ago

New find sheds light on an old T stop

Many riders were excited about the mosaics being found but enjoy them while you can.
Arlington station on the Green Line is undergoing its fourth renovation since its tunnel was first dug in 1913. In the current construction chaos, a piece of the past was recently uncovered. A tip of the hat to Jonathan of Back Bay, who pointed this out via e-mail.

"Sections of paneling on the platform were recently removed," he wrote, "revealing mosaic tiles that spell out the station name and seem to frame slots for old ads in a couple of places. It looks like workers are just running pipes and plan to cover the whole thing back up. Do you know if that's the case? It seems a shame to erase a piece of history like that at one of the T's oldest stations."

It's true. Lining the station walls between Berkeley and Arlington streets, the original black and white mosaic tiles have reappeared, harking back to simpler days before CharlieCards and heck, even Charlie on the MTA.

"We had no idea it was back there," project manager Winifred A. Stopps of the architectural firm Leers Weinzapfel Associates , said of the mosaic.

The tunnel at Arlington was built in 1913, but the station stop was not constructed until 1920. When it debuted, the walls were lined with the tiles, with advertising panels spread throughout the station and beautifully lettered station names. No old ads were found in the now-blank spaces, Stopps said.

Still, "They had even more advertising then than they do now," she said.

There's no anti-Warren Harding graffiti, and some of the tiles have been badly damaged by prior renovations.

Despite the find, once the station project is done, the old mosaic tiles will be covered up again, as Jonathan suspected, replaced by some of the enamel-on-porcelain pictures that lined the walls before the project began.

"We're trying to bring up some of the layers of history in Arlington station," Stopps said, adding that one of the old mosaic signs near the Arlington Street entrance might be saved.

MIGHT BE SAVED?????????? This should be a no brainer but.........

I can remember the mosaic tiles at many stations years ago. They included Harvard, Central, Kendall, Park St Under, Downtown Crossing as Washington - Summer - Winter, South Station Under, Broadway, Andrew, Symphony, Mechanics (now Prudential) and I'm sure there were others. A few have been restored and I would *hope* the same happens to Arlington.


Saul said...

It would be quite a shame for the mosaics to be covered up. The contractors renovating the South Station Red Line platforms did a great job restoring the "SOUTH STATION UNDER" mosaic panel that had been uncovered. Makes you wonder what will happen with the "SCOLLAY SQUARE UNDER" mosaics at Government Center. NYC Transit also does a good job in restoring old mosaic panels, or at least in creating new ones that mesh well with the older ones, as opposed to the '60s, when bland junior-high-hallway blocky tiles were all the rage.

Mac Daniels' article also points out:
Arlington was the first station to adopt the MBTA's historic (and in urgent need of a revamp) "wayfaring system," created by the Cambridge 7 architectural firm about 1968. That system, which used colors on trains and pictures in stations to guide riders to what was above ground, was imitated around the the world.

This was nothing new, the 1904 IRT did the same thing, executed in beautiful mosiac and terra cotta panels.

Adam said...

There's nothing novel about Mac's article. The tile was revealed in November when construction began, and there was active discussion on the MBTA Forum board dating back to November (!!!) ( discussing whether the T would do the right thing and preserve the mosaic. Who knows why it took Mac so long to write about it?!

Charles Kendall said...

Wasn't there an old old old system map, showing the Watertown A line among other things, uncovered during this renovation?

Any idea where that got to? I am so sure there would be collectors out there willing to bid for stuff like that. Here, make some extra money, MBTA.