First, before I start I’m proud to say that I was interviewed by WGBH for my take on maps of MBTA stations in Google Maps, If you found your way here from there, drop a comment and let me know what I should go see or how to take The T Adventure to the next level.
Now, let’s go to the northernmost corner of the City of Boston, a stone’s throw from Somerville and a bit of a walk across the Mystic River from Everett. Underneath the towering roadway of Interstate 93 lies a place familiar to me but not so near and dear to my heart: Sullivan Square. It also is a place that is a study of contrasts.
Exiting the station, making a right on the upper level, then turning left onto Cambridge Street will bring you to some up and coming areas of eastern Somerville. Though by no stretch of the imagination modern-day mixed use like Assembly Square up the road, it’s a nice mixture of commercial and residential including a Holiday Inn that opened relatively recently. Bus routes such as the 86, 89, and 91 also serve this area as well as nearby areas of Cambridge. However, this isn’t Sullivan Square proper. Walk down the stairs and you’ll see the exact opposite.
Sullivan Square hasn’t been a “square” since the latter era of the old Charlestown El and today is a lumbering high-speed traffic circle of doom which handles Main Street and the transfer of MA 99 from Rutherford St to Alford St. As can be expected, trying to navigate this circle as a pedestrian can be a bit difficult though veterans (like myself) know what to do. In comparison of the areas on the other side of I-93, this side of the station is mostly industrial with some residences a bit of a walk from the station along the 92 and 93 buses. The pedestrian situation is so risky that the biggest office developments in the area – Hood and the Schrafft Center – operate shuttle buses to their sites from the station. Though I work at one of the two, personally I like the walk, risky or not.
Otherwise, as with Community College and Malden Center, Sullivan Square is a typical Haymarket North station with dated architecture but with the wrinkle of outbound trains opening doors on both sides. It also is a key bus hub, largely for areas sans rail transit,with several MBTA routes connecting plus shuttles to Manchester Airport and the MVRTA’s express bus to Haverhill and Methuen.
Station: Sullivan Square. Rating (1-10): 5
Pros: Someone has to be the hub for a ton of areas without rail transit and with Wellington this station is the “home” for much of Everett.. That and the somewhat interesting areas west of the station are a plus. I’ll toss in a bonus point for being near my job and the donut stand (also at Wellington) I swear sources their donuts from Kane’s in Saugus.
Cons: The fact that it’s a hub it’s good. The fact that unless you know the area it appears desolate is a downside especially at night to some. I know the 60’s when this were planned were a different time but in hindsight the station could’ve been planned a bit better.
Nearby and Noteworthy: The aforementioned Schrafft Center has a waterfront trail on the perimeter of their property from which there are great views of the Tobin Bridge, ocean freighters docked across the Mystic, and more. Also, at night (and visible from trains) the historic Schrafft tower is lit up and is a underrated Boston landmark.