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Faces of the Orange Line

A story in portraits of how news coverage of the Orange Line closure has failed to show the personal narratives of those who commute each day.

Written and Photographed by Torin Harris | Edited by Amanda Siow


Oftentimes, human experiences are reduced to pure numbers in news reports. It isn't uncommon for groups of people to be treated as a monolith in the media as those in charge prefer to reduce us to our simplest forms.

This has been the case with the month-long shutdown of Boston's Orange Line.

Although highly covered by the city's news outlets, these stories constantly lacked a personal touch, lively anecdotes, or anything that would make the common citizen consider the Bostonians who were affected by this shutdown. Stretching from Forest Hills to Oak Grove, the Orange Line serves the most historically underrepresented groups of Boston. Bursting with creativity, heritage, and fascinating stories, it is a shame that our city's media has failed to show those whose commutes were disrupted due to this lapse in public transportation.

As a Boston native, I want to fill this gap and chronicle some of these individuals' faces as they begin to integrate the Orange Line back into their lives.

An employee of the T, Orange Line

I asked to photograph her while I went through the gates.

Photographed at Downtown Crossing

I met this man while we were walking together through Downtown Crossing to the Orange Line platform. As I explained my project, he proudly used his cane to stand up and announced, “I am 74 years of age!” as he posed.

Photographed at Downtown Crossing

Although most people were excited at the prospect of being photographed like the man above, others shied-away from the camera. Although I would have loved to take his photo, a man at the Mass Ave Orange Line stop responded with, “Not today, I look like shit!” when asked to be photographed.

Students at Ruggles Station

Quiet at first, this group of friends was more than happy to tell me about the day they had planned and pose for the camera.

Photographed at Ruggles Station

Probably one of my favorite people I met that day, this man happened to be a former photography teacher of seven years. Encouraging me to experiment with the settings on my camera, I wound up with these photos as he moved towards the tracks when the train came in order for me to capture a picture with more motion. After these were taken, he unwrapped the package he happened to be carrying to show me the book he had made of a recent quinceñera he was hired to photograph.

My neighbor on the way to Back Bay

Photographed at Back Bay

Forest Hills platform, Back Bay

Photographed at the entrance to the Orange Line platforms

He was very excited to be photographed despite his look of concentration.

As I left the Orange Line platforms

I hope that this piece returns some livelihood to the closure of the Orange Line. Instead of being treated as statistics, these commuters deserve a place in the history of Boston, memorialized in photographs.