Boston’s Green Line doesn’t have a great reputation. As the city’s oldest subway line, the Green Line cars are squeaky, slow, and not very efficient. Specifically, many (but not all) of the cars make godawful screeching noises when they barrel into the stations. Traveling west of Boston, some of the Green Line stops are no more than a couple blocks apart, which means very many pauses over a short distance. Finally, given the many stops and the fact that outside the city the Green Line runs above ground and is subject to street traffic, one can jog/ bike and even catch up with the train during rush hour — aggravating!
Regardless, today, I am interested in the Green Line for the purpose of adventure. A few months back, I went on an Orange Line adventure from Malden in the north (more here) to Jamaica Plain in the south (more here) and enjoyed exploring Waitt’s Mountain Park on one end and the Arnold Arboretum (more here) on the other. Unlike the Orange Line, the Green Line has a few different branches granting access to Boston neighborhoods such as Allston and Brighton, as well as cities including Brookline and Newton.
Each of the four westward branches of the Green Line are named “B,” “C,” “D”, and “E.” For my Green Line adventure, I chose to travel along the E line (terminating at Heath St.) — the shortest of all branches. Because this line covers only about 5.25 miles, I have decided to make my Green Line adventure a walking one.
A trip along the Green Line reveals the quintessence of Boston. From the sports arena, business district, shopping streets, universities, and old homes, the Green Line has it all. The Heath St. stop (my first on this journey) straddles the Jamaica Plain and Mission Hill neighborhoods. The buildings here sit neatly in a row and the bricks are the classic red that speckle most Boston neighborhoods. Along this stretch of road, the overhead trolley cables give this busy little area, with its nail salons, laundromats, liquor stores, and apartments, a distinctly urban feel. Even outside the city center there is plenty of bustle in this part of town. The Longwood medical campus is just around the corner and other medical centers are in close proximity. I’m sure the residents are near immune to the blare of sirens in these parts. Additionally, along this stretch, colleges including Massachusetts College of Art and Design and Wentworth Institute of Technology are just steps away from Green Line stops.
Continuing east, we come to the Museum of Fine Arts stop. The Museum of Fine Arts is the 14th largest museum in the world and has the second most paintings in the Americas (after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City). Additionally, it is only a few blocks away from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (made famous for an unsolved museum heist in the 1990s). Also, good news if your name is Isabella — you get free lifetime admission to the museum!
Northeastern University is, maybe, the largest university that lies along the Heath St. branch of the Green Line and it has a stop bearing its name.
The Northeastern University stop marks an important break along the Heath St. branch of the Green Line. Between the Northeastern University stop and Symphony stop, the train retreats underground to complete its journey under, rather than through, the city. Overall, the west side of the Green Line is a mix of “low-budget” and “college,” with “fine arts” and “emergency medicine” thrown into the mix. Additionally, parallel to this section of the Green line there are plenty of parks and small ponds that make up Boston’s Emerald Necklace (an adventure for another day). The eastern half of the Green Line from Symphony station to Lechmere is more city chic, exciting, and well-to-do.
More to come next time, as we complete our journey along the Green Line.