Official websites use

A website belongs to an official government organization in the City of Boston.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Boston on the '30s: the trolley to the future

 In 1930, Bostonians traveled around their City and their region using a network of underground and above ground trains, trolleys, and buses.

Did you know that Boston's transit system has shrunk rather than grown over the past 100 years? This map, printed for Boston's 300th birthday celebration, shows Boston's expansive transit system in 1930.

Image for boston elevated map 1930 1

In addition to the subway and elevated rail, a large network of trolley lines connected Boston's neighborhoods. The trolley lines in the map above are indicated with the yellow lines. Bostonians used trolleys to travel in their local neighborhoods and to make connections to high-speed transit lines. This photo shows Bostonians waiting for a trolley on Blue Hill Avenue in 1929.

Image for 32040694276 04fea75d72 o 1

In 1930, almost 75% of the people traveling in and out of downtown Boston either used this public transit system or walked. This 1927 graph shows the modes of transportation that people used to enter and exit Boston’s downtown area. 

Image for persons entering leaving boston 1

In contrast to 1930, about 40% of Bostonians currently drive to work alone. The pie chart below shows how Bostonians currently commute to and from work.

Image for ib 369 3 1

This is unsustainable as we grow, unaffordable for many, and perpetuates high greenhouse-gas emissions. 

As our City looks towards its 400th birthday, we're moving forward by moving backward — at least when it comes to public transit! We're investing in transportation infrastructure that will move Bostonians efficiently and reliably to and from home, work, and school. We're also working to make public transit options a workable reality for Bostonians in all of Boston's neighborhoods.

  • Last updated:
  • Last updated:
Back to top