The Troy Street Observer

Dec 31, 1951: Symphony Hall, the Hard Way

Photo of car on subway tracks
Buick, inbound to Park Street, hung up on a switch.

In the late afternoon on Dec 31, 1951, a soldier from Fort Devens got an early start on his New Year’s celebrations by taking a joyride through the Boston subway system. In a Buick. Entering by way of the portal on Huntington Avenue, the soldier drove for almost a half mile before getting hung up on a switch, which is where a press photographer snapped this photo of the car.

This of course completely blocked the inbound Arborway line; some 40 trolleys piled up behind him before the car was finally removed from the tracks. It had to be pushed or towed to the Mechanics (now Prudential) station and lifted on to the platform.

The soldier’s motives remain a mystery. Perhaps he had been down at Izzy Ort’s or the Silver Dollar Bar enjoying a few afternoon beers and decided to go for a drive, and got confused, mistaking the portal for the entrance to the Sumner Tunnel.

Or perhaps his plan was to go to Symphony Hall, where that night the Lionel Hampton Orchestra was to ring in the new year. Our soldier knew Symphony Hall was on Huntington Ave someplace, and sure enough he found the Symphony station, but there was no place to park. Some things never change.

So wherever you’re ringing in the New Year tonight, drive safely. See you all next year.

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