Boston Public Library Opens Orange Line Exhibition "An Elevated View"
Exhibition and related programs illuminate end of Boston’s elevated rail system
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For Immediate Release
October 22, 2012
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The newest exhibition to open at the Boston Public Library’s Copley Square location is An Elevated View: the Orange Line. The exhibition features 65 photographs from a 1985 project that documented Boston’s elevated rail system prior to its 1987 dismantling. The elevated Orange Line, known simply as the El, served as fast and dependable transportation above Washington Street, from Chinatown to Dudley Square, between 1901 and 1987. An Elevated View is open through January 19, 2013. 

Two years before the El was dismantled, the nonprofit organization URBANARTS organized a program called “Arts in Transit” on behalf of the MBTA. One component of the program paired four photographers with photography students to document the transition of the Orange Line. The students and their teachers photographed the line and its architectural and social surroundings.

Arranged in order of MBTA Orange Line stops, from Forest Hills to Dover Station, An Elevated View is on display in the Wiggin Gallery at the Central Library in Copley Square, located at 700 Boylston Street. The gallery is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Boston Public Library staff member Jane Winton curated the exhibition, using photographs from the library’s print collection.

Additional Boston Public Library programs related to the Orange Line include film screenings and a panel discussion featuring photographers who documented the rail system.

Screenings of Tim Wright’s 30-minute documentary film The Conservation of Matter: The Rise and Fall of Boston's Elevated will take place on Thursday, October 25, at 6 p.m. at the Central Library in Copley Square and Monday, November 19, at 6 p.m. at the Connolly Branch, located at 433 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain. The film traces the fate of 100,000 tons of steel from the Boston elevated rail system, which was shipped eight thousand miles away to Japan, melted, and reformed into steel bars. The steel was ultimately used to create a structure in the middle of Apache country in central Arizona. Wright, a Boston-based filmmaker, will attend both screenings and will discuss his work. The screening at the Connolly Branch is presented by the Jamaica Plain Historical Society.

A panel discussion featuring photographers who documented Boston's elevated rail system prior to its demolition takes place on Thursday, November 1, at 6 p.m. at the Central Library in Copley Square. Photographers David Akiba and Lou Jones will discuss their photos and their experiences capturing neighborhoods in transition.

This exhibition and related programs are part of the Boston Public Library’s Building Boston initiative, a citywide celebration of Boston’s public spaces. An Elevated View is the third of five exhibitions planned at the Central Library in Copley Square in conjunction with the initiative. More information about Building Boston is available at

The Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-five branches, a literacy center, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first publicly supported municipal library in America, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit

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