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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Boston in Suffolk County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
 

Power System of Bostonís Rapid Transit

 
 
Power System of Bostonís Rapid Transit Marker image. Click for full size.
By Roger W. Sinnott, November 19, 2011
1. Power System of Bostonís Rapid Transit Marker
Inscription.
IEEE Milestone in Electrical Engineering and Computing
Power System of Bostonís Rapid Transit, 1889

Boston was the first city to build electric traction for a large-scale rapid transit system. The engineering challenge to design and construct safe, economically viable, and reliable electric power for Bostonís rapid transit was met by the West End Street Railway Company, beginning in 1889. The companyís pioneering efforts provided an important impetus to the adoption of mass transit systems nationwide.

November 2004

 
Erected 2004 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
 
Location. 42° 21.388′ N, 71° 3.748′ W. Marker is in Boston, Massachusetts, in Suffolk County. Marker is at the intersection of Tremont Street and Park Street, on the right when traveling south on Tremont Street. Touch for map. Marker is at the northeastern corner of Boston Common, at one entrance to the Park Street subway station. Marker is in this post office area: Boston MA 02108, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Boston Common (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Boston Common (a
Right Entrance to the Park Street Station image. Click for full size.
By Roger W. Sinnott, November 19, 2011
2. Right Entrance to the Park Street Station
The marker is mounted on the nearest corner of this entrance.
few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Boston Common (a few steps from this marker); Park Street Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Tragic Events (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Lafayette Mall (about 300 feet away); James Otis (about 300 feet away); Huguenots, Women, and Tories (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Boston.
 
Regarding Power System of Bostonís Rapid Transit. Richmond, Virginia, is also credited with the worldís first successful electric railway (see first link, below), designed by Frank Julian Sprague in 1888. That same year, executives of Bostonís West End Street Railway went to Richmond, saw a demonstration, and placed an order with Sprague for a similar but larger system in Boston.

By 1889 Bostonians were riding their own electric streetcars, which proved far more efficient than the horse-drawn trolleys then in use. In his 2010 book, A City So Grand: The Rise of an American Metropolis, Boston 1850–1900, Stephen Puleo notes that Bostonís horse population plummeted from 7,700 to 857 in just six years, and the number of electric trolleys soared to 1,714.

Concurrently, traffic congestion grew and gave the stimulus for Boston to build Americaís first subway system during 1895–97. West End Railway built the subwayís power system, too. So it is no coincidence to find the IEEE marker mounted on one of the main entrances to the Park Street Station.
 
Also see . . .
1. First Trolley Car System in Richmond. The electric trolley system in Richmond, Virginia, became the prototype for those in many other cities, including Boston. (Submitted on November 23, 2011, by Roger W. Sinnott of Chelmsford, Massachusetts.) 

2. History of the West End Street Railway. This 1892 book describes the Boston companyís transition from horse-drawn to electric streetcars. (Submitted on November 23, 2011, by Roger W. Sinnott of Chelmsford, Massachusetts.) 
 
Categories. Railroads & Streetcars
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 23, 2011, by Roger W. Sinnott of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. This page has been viewed 387 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 23, 2011, by Roger W. Sinnott of Chelmsford, Massachusetts. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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