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History of Streetcars

The earliest type of streetcar was the horse drawn streetcar in the early 1800's. Although it was frequently used, it was not as dependable because it ran solely on the horses' ability to continue. The most important type of streetcar invented was the electric, during the late 1800s and early 1900s, because it allowed for much more access and dependability.

About the Electric Streetcar

  • Invented by Frank J. Sprague
  • Produced in 1888
  • Created by construcing an electric railway system for the streetcar to travel through the streets
  • Installed polled on the tops of the cars which connected to overhead wires on the streets to travel
  • Started the first successful electric street railway system in Richmond, Virginia

Facts about Electric Streetcars

- The inventor, Frank J Sprague, worked as teachnical assistant to Thomas Edison

- He abandoned Edison's firm when he realized that electricity for lighting did not interest him as much as electricity for transportation

- This new type of streetcar was nicknamed ,"trolley cars"

- Within a decade of its installation, the eletric streetcar monopolized horse drawn streetcars and cable cars

Impact of the "trolleys" on the Industrial growth

The invention of these streetcars created a more efficient, substainable, and afforable way fo transportation during the Industrial time period. The creation of electric streetcars became beneficial for trade and business because it allowed workers or different companies to transport the products with greater facility.

Today's Trolleys...

Nowadays, the eletric car is not as popular. It has been replaced by modern cars and gas- powered buses for transportation. Although they are not as frequently used, there are some cities in the country that are commonly known for using streetcars. San Francisco, for example, is classically known for having the streetcars trailing through the curved streets and hills. Despite the decrease in use, these trolleys remain an interesting historical artifact.


Image Credits

Horse- drawn streetcar, 1886 by Seattle Municiapl Archives with permission of creative commons license

Streetcar-1910. By Philip Timms with permission of creative commons license

New orleans strassen-bahn By Faulke with permission of creative commons license

Frank J Sprague By Pline with permission of creative commons license

Theatrical District, Richmond, Virginia, 1923 By Louis Kaufmann & Sons with permission of creative commons license

Edison By Bains New Service with permission of creative commons license