Thursday, March 24, 2011

reminder: Anacostia had streetcars before

There's been a lot of discussion around Anacostia lately about the benefit of streetcars in the neighborhood. Many are excited about them, many aren't. Some are excited about the convenience and connectivity they'll bring, others are afraid of the impact on parking. I for one think it's kind of ridiculous that this project wouldn't happen, when it was promised back in 2007 (and years before) when I first purchased in the neighborhood. It's a big deal to backtrack on a project of this magnitude.

That said, I wanted to remind the readership that Anacostia had streetcars before. This is not a new concept. And not only did Anacostia have them, but the tracks webbed across the city to form a network that made Anacostia more connected with the city it's a part of.

streetcar down MLK, across the bridge, to Navy Yard ... yeah they had that in the 1800s

As you can see from the images in this post, Washington DC was better served by streetcar in 1891 than it is in 2011. In the meantime, society got excited about cars, tire companies bought out streetcar companies, buses emerged, and we kinda forgot about a transit option that now many other cities across the country and world are getting really excited about and is leading to billions of dollars in economic development.

Streetcars are going to change things. They will take getting used to. But they are a sustainable, convenient, and development-inspiring mode of transportation that will change this neighborhood for the better. Now is the time to support and embrace.

map images courtesy of the Library of Congress


Stephen Smith said...

To say tire companies bought out the streetcars is really giving too much credit to local governments, who basically regulated private mass transit out of existence. It's important to remember why there's no more streetcars if we ever hope to bring them back as a viable transit option.

Anonymous said...

One of the biggest mistakes DC ever made was to take the streetcar tracks up in the 1960's. I remember riding them as a child down to the Navy Yard to meet my father and then up to PA Ave SE to catch the bus out to PG county.