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Boston Public Library opens ‘Elevated View’

Banner Staff | 10/24/2012, 8:36 a.m.
“An Elevated View: The Orange Line” is a new Boston Public Library exhibition featuring 65...
“An Elevated View: The Orange Line” is a new Boston Public Library exhibition featuring 65 photographs from a 1985 project that documented Boston’s elevated rail system prior to its 1987 dismantling. courtesy of the Boston Public Library

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“An Elevated View: The Orange Line” is a new Boston Public Library exhibition featuring 65 photographs from a 1985 project that documented Boston’s elevated rail system prior to its 1987 dismantling.

Exhibition and related programs illuminate end of Boston’s elevated rail system

 
 

“An Elevated View: The Orange Line” is the latest exhibition to open at the Boston Public Library’s Copley Square location.

The exhibition features 65 photographs from a 1985 project that documented Boston’s elevated rail system prior to its 1987 dismantling.  The exhibit is open through Jan. 19, 2013. 

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.

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.

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.

Screenings of Tim Wright’s 30-minute documentary film “The Conservation of Matter: The Rise and Fall of Boston’s Elevated Subway” will take place on Thursday, Oct. 25, at 6 p.m. at the Central Library in Copley Square and Monday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. at the Connolly Branch, located at 433 Centre St. in Jamaica Plain.

The film traces the fate of 100,000 tons of steel from the Boston elevated rail system, which was shipped 8,000 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 to 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, Nov. 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 www.bpl.org/buildingboston.