Government Center Shines at Reopening Ceremony

Posted April 12, 2016 by Erica Marchant in Downtown Boston
The new Government Center T-Station. Photo by way of wikipedia user: Pi.1415926535

After 2 years of renovations, Government Center Station reopened on March 21, 2016, to many enthusiastic onlookers and reporters. Attended by Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Marty Walsh, the crowded unveiling of the upgraded station marked the opening of a major commuter hub in the heart of Boston. Public officials spoke of their excitement with the station’s completion and the reopening of an important intersection of the Green and Blue lines in Boston’s “T” subway system. The celebration included music, a ribbon cutting, and accessibility advocates entering the station by wheelchair, marking an important historic milestone for Government Center.

After handing station command over to central control, Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Marty Walsh, along with other MBTA officials and disability advocates, boarded a Green Line trolley. Eager riders flashed their Charlie Cards when the first trolley carrying passengers since it shut down in 2014 reeled forward leaving Government Center Station.

The almost 90 million dollar renovation turned the old, grimy, and dim station into a modernized epicenter with a centralized infrastructure accessible to riders with disabilities. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority succeeded in turning the stations dark, cracked, and peeling floors and walls into a contemporary and inviting hub of the city within budget and on time.

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The original Scollay tiles. Photo Credit: Erica Marchant

First known as Scollay Square Station when built in 1898, it was a stop on the oldest subway in the nation and the center of a major Boston commerce hub. Scollay Square was also the place to go for a drink after work, partake in some raucous behavior, and catch a burlesque show at The Old Howard next door. As the bars, hot dog stand, and theater were replaced with office buildings for government agencies and officials in the early 1960’s, the junction was renamed Government Square Station. The now Blue and Green Line station displays some of the original “Scollay Under” tiles unearthed during the 2014-2016 subway station renovation. The restored tiles remain intact around the station.

The station’s former prison-like concrete façade at the intersection of Cambridge and Court Streets now sports a striking architectural design with 358 rising glass panels for walls and exposed steel beams for support. The formerly dark lobby is transformed by an attractive white speckled granite highlighted by the natural light that floods the station from the sky-high windows.

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The blue and green line display some of the old fixtures. Photo Credit: Erica Marchant

Millions of people a year use the “T” to visit Boston, and Government Center’s lack of elevators and working escalators limited who could travel through the station and to area businesses. While shutting down the station for two years caused delays and riders added up to 15 minutes to their commute times, officials estimated the project would have taken 6 years had the station remained open during renovations. The makeover includes more accessibility features such as four new elevators, open stairwells, and upgraded working escalators.

The Government Center area includes Boston City Hall, the JFK federal building, and City Hall Plaza and is a short walk to Haymarket and Quincy Square. The Reopening of Government Center Station will ease commutes for those currently traveling to other stations and it opens up access to those who have never considered using the station before.