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