You might have heard about how the MBTA got its colors.

The Red Line, the tale goes, was named as a tribute to Harvard Crimson at the former end of the tracks. The Blue Line, which goes under the Boston Harbor, got its aquatic hue from the water. The Green Line was named for the Emerald Necklace and the leafy suburbs it passes through. The more recently added Silver Line named after the metallic shades of Logan International Airport. And the Orange Line? Presumably named after Orange Street, the name of the road it ran down starting in the 18th century around what is now Washington Street.

But those origin stories are not entirely true. In fact, all of the colors were chosen for aesthetic reasons before they were assigned to specific lines running through Boston.

After a listener from Belmont called asking about where the T's train lines got their colors, Edgar B. Herwick III of GBH's Curiosity Desk dug in and joined Morning Edition hosts Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel to share what he found.

The answer stretches back to the 1960s, when a collection of disparate Boston rail lines rebranded as what is now the MBTA. The current color scheme was unveiled in 1965, the brainchild of design firm CambridgeSeven. All seven of the firm’s founders worked on the project: Lou Bakanowsky, Peter Chermayeff, Alden Christie, Ivan Chermayeff, Paul Dietrich, Tom Geismar and Terry Rankine.

The firm’s leaders were very interested in primary colors at the time, selecting red, blue, yellow and green for the transit agency. They then assigned those colors to specific train lines: red for Harvard, blue for East Boston and the harbor, green for the Emerald Necklace.

For the fourth line, designers initially tried two shades of yellow: primary yellow and safety yellow. But the white writing they wanted to use for station names and other wayfinding markers did not stand out enough against a yellow background, so they picked orange instead.

That the line ran down what used to be Orange Street was total happenstance.

If there is something you've been itching to know more about, email The Curiosity Desk or send in your question below. Edgar might just dig up the answer in a future episode. For more from The Curiosity Desk, follow Edgar B. Herwick III on Twitter and subscribe to the GBH News YouTube Channel.