For this project, I followed the computational approach. Gathering data on the development of public transportation in Boston as the city grew and reclaimed land. Using historic maps scraped from atlascope and other sources as the base image to project onto the scene, then overlaying the public transportation networks onto the image.

Using Unity Engine to generate the visualization, using data to show animations with the rough frequency of the transportation. There are two sliders: time speed and year. Moving the year slider will change the map displayed and update the transportation visualization to show the correct transportation networks for that year.

How has Boston’s reclaimed land affected the development of public transport?

In this project, we are investigating how all of the newly reclaimed land that makes up some of Boston’s most famous neighborhoods, like Seaport, have affected the development of Boston MBTA over the last 130 years.


At this time there were no lines currently built in Boston but the start of what would become the Green Line was starting to be built.


The Green Line (what would become the C Line) was opened for public use. The original track was opened in 1888 from Coolidge Corner to Massachusetts Ave and an extension was opened from Cleveland Circle to Coolidge Corner in 1889.


Massive progress was made in a decade with Green Line now looking similar to the Line we know today. 1891, 1896, 1896, and 1898 saw the opening of the Green Line E, Green Line A, Green Line B, and the main downtown line respectively. All of these lines lie on existing land that has not been reclaimed. The main downtown line was the first tunnel line built for the MBTA. There were also extensions to both the A and B branch in 1898 and 1900. These lines were built to bring commuters in established communities like Brookline into the growing Downtown district.


During the gap between 1900 and 1912, we saw the first new lines opened with the creation of the Orange and Blue lines. The Orange Line was opened in 1901 Sullivan Sq to Dudley Sq with several extensions throughout the coming years with extensions in 1901 and 1909. Noticeable is the downtown Orange Line Loop that we no longer see today. Blue Line was dug under the harbor, opening in 1904, linking together downtown Boston and the large docks of East Boston. As well as an extension of the Green Line’s E branch that was extended to Forest Hills.

2021 – 2022

Jumping to the modern day we see the MBTA that we are used to now as Bostonians. Noticeable changes are the creation of the Red Line (1912), linking together the thriving Cambridge neighborhoods and areas south of the Charles River such as South Boston and Dorchester. The Blue Line continued to expand deep into east Boston, extending out to Revere. The Orange Line Loop was closed and the main line was expanded out to Malden, linking more growing neighborhoods to Downtown Boston. This also solves the mystery of the missing A branch on the Green Line on modern MBTA maps, the line closed in 1969 and was replaced by 57 buses.

How does this answer our question?

Noticeable about these new lines and the expansions is that none use an extensive amount of reclaimed land. Despite some of these areas being some of the fastest growing by population. The cost and risk of digging in these areas seem to outweigh the benefits. Seaport is a good case study in this, over the last 20 years it has seen dramatic growth from the creation of new land, and has attempted to build tunnels with the Courthouse stop. This is an underground bus station, opened in 2004, to serve the Seaport area. There is currently work being done on the station for the last year to try to counteract the flooding that the station regularly experiences.