Remembering Forest Hills Station; Built 1909

Courtesy Boston Public Library. File number:  002956

Courtesy Boston Public Library. File number:  002956

The opening of the elevated extension to Forest Hills, which had been delayed, finally happened on Monday, November 22, 1909, when the public had the opportunity to see the great terminal station, and patrons from Forest Hills and points south had the chance to enjoy quicker transit to the city.

The new terminal was the largest structure of its kind and the most costly in the country, if not in the world.  It was made of steel and reinforced concrete, finished in copper, and was nearly two years under construction, including the foundations.  Work on building the elevated train line itself began in September 1900, and a large force of men had been at work constantly since.

The station was 360 feet long, more than 70 feet wide and was equipped with spacious platforms and broad stairways.  From an architectural standpoint it was attractive and added to the appearance of Forest Hills Square.  The approach of the tracks on the Boston side was an elevated structure of concrete and steel, supported on eight massive columns.  The whole length of the upper part was enclosed with 176 large windows, and in a similar manner, the waiting rooms were closed in to assure protection.  The concrete platforms of the upper portion of the structure were sheltered with roofs.  All the woodwork was sheathed with copper, and the exposed frames of the windows were copper glazed.

On the ground level, long concrete walks were built, where surface cars entered the station beneath the arches.  At the south end, stairs led to the elevated platforms on either side.  Ticket offices were reached by passing turnstiles.  Iron fences almost enclosed the entire structure, but near the southern end four of the large concrete arches were left open to give free access to people crossing the square.

Iron fences also separated the inward bound from the outward bound tracks to keep crowds moving in opposite directions from meeting.  Cars arriving from the south (Walpole, Dedham, Hyde Park, Needham, West Roxbury, and Mattapan) discharged inbound passengers at the platform on one side and then, passing around a large loop, re-entered the terminal to load at a platform on the other side.

On the elevated level the trains entered the terminal and discharged outbound passengers and then, passing beyond the station, returned to a separate loading platform for inbound passengers.  Trial trains had been run over the new extension so the motormen might familiarize themselves with the road, which had some sharp curves.  There was (in 1909) only one stop between Dudley and Forest Hills.

The first train to carry passengers on the new extension ran on Saturday, November 19, leaving Forest Hills at 4:30 p.m.  Passengers were members of the Executive Committee on the Elevated Extension in the West Roxbury District.  This committee, with officers from the various Citizens’ Associations of the District, and invited guests numbering 2000 took the first ride over the new line.  Upon their return to Forest Hills, according to the account in the November 20, 1909 West Roxbury News, 75 members of the Committee and Citizens’ Associations’ officers enjoyed a banquet at the newly opened Arborway Court restaurant.

By Walter H. Marx