Author: Globe Staff
Date: June 1, 2016
It’s been more than a half-century since the Prudential Center replaced the sprawling rail yard at the center of Back Bay. But a new project promises to remake the neighborhood once again, and trains are a driving force behind the change.
Boston Properties is proposing a massive redevelopment of Back Bay Station and the block of forbidding concrete around it, replacing the brute modernism of the 1980s with a sleek contemporary flair.
Train stations, tracks, and depots once stretched from Park Square through Copley to what is now the Prudential Center. Then, industry consolidation and the coming of the car eroded the railroad’s prominence and eventually urban renewal and the highway came to define that side of the city. What was left was largely hidden from view by office blocks and retail shops.
But now rails are having another moment, with developers such as Boston Properties investing billions in new buildings around subway and train lines. The real estate company promises to brighten the dark concourse while capping development around the station with an unusual twisting office building that resembles a series of glass boxes stacked at odd angles.
While the steam locomotives are gone for good, Back Bay’s future remains linked with the rails.