Keepin’ it Lit on K’s & L’s*

Alhough this blog is tragically behind our actual excursions, we’ll try and update as best we can!

We had a few exciting things happen last spring. The first was on Tuesday, April 4th. It was a regular school and work day for both of us but I decided to surprise Alex with a unplanned excursion to Boston after school. He had no idea where we were going, or why. I had read in the news that morning that a mock up of the new Orange Line train would be on display for 3 days only at Government Center. He hates surprises but I kept re-assuring him that this would be a good one.

His eyes lit up when we walked inside the shiny new Orange Line car and he got to meet some of the engineers from CRRC MA and the MBTA and speak to them about the new cars. And the best part about this excursion is that one of Alex’s blog followers recognized us and introduced himself! Very cool.

The other fun thing that happened is that Alex got to explore another train and subway system in Munich, Germany! We were visiting friends and their 17 year old son was nice enough to take Alex out for a day riding trolleys, buses and subways on the Munich U-Bahn. He was impressed, but said he still likes the MBTA better. He’s very loyal to Boston, but they even have trains named named after him in Germany!


But here we were back in Salem on the first gorgeous spring day in May with the intention of getting the all the “K” stations visited. Even though there are not very many “K” stations, it was so beautiful outside that I honestly wasn’t too thrilled at the thought of spending it riding public transportation.

We caught the 11:20 AM train to North Station after Alex’s mixed martial arts class. At North Station, we boarded the Orange Line train and Alex decided to take the Winter St. concourse at Downtown Crossing to switch to the Red Line. Alex likes the Winter Street Concourse which connects the Red, Orange and Blue Lines at Downtown Crossing. Personally, I think it’s in desperate need of a face lift. It’s horribly neglected and dreary.


Our first stop was Kendall M.I.T. on the Red line. Kendall is a really interesting station because of the amazing Kendall Band which is a three-part musical sculpture and public art installation located between the tracks. It was created and installed in the late 1980’s by Paul Matisse, grandson of the artist Henri Matisse. Levers from the platforms were once able to activate the musical sculptures but, sadly, they no longer function and have fallen into disrepair in spite of efforts to restore them as recent as 2011. There are a few YouTube videos of the chimes while they were still working. Here’s one:

After leaving Kendall, we took the Red Line back to Park St. and changed to the Green Line while heading to Kenmore Square. We were on Green Line D, so we got out and took a photo and waited 3 minutes for the Green Line C which took us 3 stops to Kent St. We exited at Kent where we witnessed a large biking event that passed us.

Although our original plan was to make this day a short one and head back to Salem, I could tell that Alex was eager to continue and do the “L” stations as well. So I gave in, and decided to enjoy the nice weather as much as possible while exploring the “L’s.” My spring gardening could wait. We got out at N. Station and waited 16 minutes for the Lechmere train just two stops away.

After a photo at Lechmere station, (talk about a very dated looking station!) we boarded the train as it turned around and headed towards the opposite direction of Heath St. We got off at Boylston to get on the SL5 Silver Line. The bus came right away. We then headed down Washington St. through the South End to Lenox St. Alex used my phone to look up the next best route. We walked a few minutes to the Menela Cass Boulevard bus stop and boarded Bus 47 to Central Square. What an interesting area of Boston! I enjoyed reading some of the history of this neighborhood while waiting at the stop and admiring some of the historical architecture around us – like this beautiful church.


Our last two “L” stops were Longwood and Longwood Medical Center. Longwood was on the Green Line D which we got to by walking through the River Walk Park. We had never been here before, and now I was really enjoying the fact we had such gorgeous weather to walk through this beautiful park! Peppered with wonderful public arts pieces and historical structures along the way it was absolutely gorgeous:

After walking back through the park to the same bus stop and getting on Bus 47 again towards Broadway, we disembarked at MFA station and walked to Longwood Medical Center.

We finished at 3:30 and discovered we could catch the 4:30 train back to Salem. Unfortunately, no time to eat on this day but we rewarded ourselves with a big ice cream on the way back home.

*Keepin’ it Lit is a K & L reference to life with two middle-schoolers. Everything that was once “cool” (old people) is now “lit.”


Dashing through the D’s

Who knew Dudley was a diamond in the rough?

Exploring the D subways on D-Day was a last minute decision. A dash out the door and we were off!

(Alex and I continue to do our alphabetical excursions but I’m a bit behind in posting them. I do plan on catching up the blog to our alphabetical travels this summer.)

President’s Day was designated “Riding The ‘D’s Day” at the last minute. My days off and work holidays are limited so I wasn’t sure I could spend another day riding around in buses and subways. But, laundry piles and grocery shopping were the boring alternative, so off we went on 7:40am commuter rail train from Salem to North Station.

Alex had everything all planned out again.  He knew that President’s Day had a modified schedule and that we needed to follow Saturday schedules that day. (I still can’t figure out how he just knows these things. It wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to check.)

Our first “D” stop was Davis Square in Sommerville which is the 2nd to last stop on the Red Line. His plan was to take the Green Line from North Station to Lechmere and then board Bus 88 to Davis Square.  (Personally, I would have headed straight up the Red Line, but what do I know?) I’m still not a huge of fan of buses but I’m starting to get used to them from these excursions. The thing I liked best about taking this route was going through the Sommerville neighborhoods. From the huge “Sanctuary City” banner proudly displayed on Sommerville High School, to the smorgasbord of ethic restaurants, cute shops and trendy coffee houses, it was a fun and interesting ride. Once again, I resolved to myself that I must get back to Sommerville soon to try out one of these fantastic looking places.

At Davis Square we took the Red Line down to Harvard and then boarded Bus 1 to the Hynes Convention Center. We entered a brand new bus with shiny plastic blue seats and bright yellow handles.  Alex’s face lit up. He was very excited about the new bus design. It was quiet, clean, and mostly empty at 9am so I enjoyed the ride too.

Bus 9 (brand new!)

When we reached Hynes Convention Center we headed up the Green Line D train to Dean’s Road. This ride up towards Brookline had one of the most diverse Boston demographics I’ve experienced yet.  People of all colors, incomes and ages seemed to get on and off that train.

After we arrived at Beaconsfield, we walked to Dean’s Road, which is another one of those stops without a sign. We got a picture of him standing by a road sign instead of a subway sign.

Dean's Road

From Dean’s Road we took a Green Line C train and rode to Park Street. We walked the Winter St. Concourse tunnel to Downtown Crossing and snapped a few more pictures. It’s really amusing for me to see how much Alex enjoys things like the connecting tunnel between the Red/Orange and Green lines at Downtown Crossing. I see a neglected and dark tunnel that desperately needs updating. He sees an interesting concourse leading to more stations.


At Downtown Crossing we rode the Red Line one stop to South Station and found the Silver Line platform.

We boarded Silver Line SL2 ( I had no idea there were 4 different Silver Line buses with different routes) but Alex knew exactly which one to take to get us to Design Center. I’ve never traveled in this area of South Boston before but it was really cool area to see, especially along the shipyard waterfront. I couldn’t get any good shots from my phone but we passed a lot of stacked shipping containers like this image I got off Google:

Ship yards Boston

We decided to get off the bus at Courthouse and get and an early lunch at Shake Shack. We had passed it on “C” day so both of us thought it would be fun to get burgers and shakes. Because it was early, we were practically the only customers at Shake Shack and it was the perfect reward for a day that was going very well. We only had one D stop left and it was only 11:30 am.  I guess I’d get home in time for laundry after all.

We re-boarded the SL2 and rode to South Station where we transferred to the SL4 after waiting at a bitterly cold bus stop, thankfully equipped with self-timed heaters.  We traveled the SL4 all the way to Dudley Station in the middle of Roxbury.  Dudley is a huge bus station that connects 17 MBTA bus lines, including 2 Silver Line buses. Alex gets just as excited about bus stations as subway stations so he couldn’t wait to get out at Dudley and explore.

Here, in the most unlikely of places, my jaw dropped.  I had ZERO expectations of liking a bus station in the middle of Roxbury. But, here I was, standing with my mouth open in awe and fascination at the incredible architecture of this historic building.


While I walked around in wonder taking photos, Alex followed while excitedly rattling off bus routes numbers that left this station  We must have made quite a pair. We looked so strangely out of place that a police officer actually approached us and asked if everything was okay.

I had to look up the history of Dudley.  Per Wikapedia, Dudley Square MBTA station first opened in 1901 as part of the Boston Elevated Railway (BERy, a predecessor of the MBTA.) It is reportedly one of the best-preserved BERy stations remaining. The Beaux Arts/French Renaissance structure was designed by Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow and was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1985.  They actually took the entire station and lowered it 12 feet in 1993. Here are some historic photos of it before it was lowered into it’s current spot.


I’m so pleased they saved the architecture of the station when re-designing.  And the fact that it was once a subway station but is now a bus station? Fascinating.

Dudley.  Who knew?  D Day did not disappoint.