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Rapid Transit Dioramas

As I mentioned earlier (probably several times), I had always enjoyed riding Boston's MTA rapid transit system as a kid in the 1960s. Those "railfan" memories have lasted all my life. So it's no surprise that, once I had access to the tools and the creative process started to gel, I would build a few MTA-related dioramas.


Not long after I started modeling, I got an idea to build a subway trolley station. This was my first diorama not related to my main layout, although it's really just a "mock-up" built rather quickly using mostly from foam core board. I also designed it so that it could sit on my layout, with the tracks running through the station. (This was prior to the town's expansion so there was more room on the table.)

Someday I plan to build a version of this station as a separate, stand-alone diorama connected to my main tracks. (My PCC trolley waits patiently for the expansion.)

By the way, there really is a Fenway station in Boston, but this isn't it. The real Fenway station isn't underground, nor is it near Fenway Park.

My first diorama, Fenway.

A few additions and modifications.

Subway Tile
Microsoft Excel was used to make
the subway tile and wall signage.

PCC Trolley
My PCC car wants to go further.
(Someday he will.)

Blue Hill Avenue

This one is a little difficult to explain. It's the street on which I grew up (late-50s, early-60s), and it depicts several time frames in my distant memories.

I spent much of my youth on Evelyn Street in Mattapan, Massachusetts. And I have no doubt that it was at the corner of Evelyn Street and Blue Hill Avenue where my interest in rail vehicles and buses began. That's the intersection envisioned here – it's been in my head for decades.

This diorama is not meant to be an accurate representation, rather a depiction of memories and feelings I have of several time periods.

Towards the rear of the layout are the 50s, when antique streetcars ran along Blue Hill Avenue between Mattapan Square and Egleston Station. My recollection of those days are very fuzzy - I barely remember those old streetcars.

On the closer (inbound) side of Blue Hill Avenue during the early 1960s, Mack buses replaced the streetcars, the rails having been paved over. (It was the N scale model MTA bus found on e-bay that inspired this diorama. The detail is very accurate.)

Making her way down Evelyn Street in the late-60s, is new driver Shirley in her '66 Pontiac Tempest. (Mom was a terror on the road.) A Ford was the closest thing I could find in N scale, so I printed and stuck a Pontiac grille on the front.

Now the funny thing is that I've sent a picture of this diorama to two people I know who had also lived on Evelyn Street many years ago and they both told me it's nothing like they remember. just goes to show you.

By the way, the buildings are small foam blocks covered with bricks, storefronts, etc. printed on plain paper and glued on. The streets and sidewalks were the most challenging part of this one.

Ready for Asphault
Ready for asphalt.

Pouring Sidewals
These are the newly poured sidewalks.

Blue Hill Ave.
Yup...more foam.

The Cutoff
Wow! Did you see that driver cut
off that bus? (Good thing this
is only a mock-up version!)

Blue Hill Ave.
Blue Hill Avenue - at least the way I remember it! :)

Mattapan Square

This is kind of a weird diorama - even for me. It's another based on an old image, a picture I took over 50 years ago! The picture and the scene are a celebration of the then new GM "Fishbowl" buses that started to replace the antiques in use by the MTA at the time. I clearly remember my first ride in one (and discovering - the hard way - how hard seats made of fiberglass are).

I had originally intended this to be a more realistic scene, matching the picture a bit more, but after a meeting with my design consultant (Mrs. Pauley), I decided to leave it a bit "raw" and abstract.

Mattapan Square
Celebrating the new GM bus
at Mattapan Square.

Riverside Station

As a fan of PCC trolleys, when I found HO scale PCC cars (especially in MTA livery), I had to get a couple to look at and run. I eventually built the trolley station so that they had a place to stop. (Although it sits on my main layout, it's an easily-removable module and could work as a stand-alone diorama.)

As with Fenway above, there really is a Riverside station in Boston, but it also looks nothing like the model. The name just seemed appropriate considering it's been placed next to the Rogue River.

(It took me weeks to find an HO scale Checker cab! But it's so perfect there!)

By the way, in the foreground you can see one of many water tests I've done.

Riverside Station

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