They built a new cable car barn and began operating the system on March 9, 1895. [36], In 1902, the railroad moved its station, as the Belt Line's tracks were circling the block containing the site of a planned new District Building (now the John A. Wilson Building). By 1916 streetcar use was reaching its peak in Washington, D.C. Rider’s Guide. Capital Transit made several changes. It was incorporated on February 28, 1892, with the right to run a streetcar from the train station at 6th Street NW and B Street NW to Virginia across a new Three Sisters Bridge. [10] On June 24, 1908, the first streetcars began service to Union Station along Delaware Avenue NE and by December 6 cars of both Capital Traction and Washington Railway were serving the building along Massachusetts Avenue NE. [7], The last streetcar company to begin operation during the horsecar era was the Capitol, North O Street and South Washington Railway. [41] Chalk fought the retirement of the streetcars[41] but was unsuccessful, and the final abandonment of the streetcar system began on September 7, 1958, with the end of the North Capitol Street (Route 80) and Maryland (Route 82) lines. The first formal bus company in Washington, the Washington Rapid Transit Company, was incorporated on January 20, 1921. In a previous blog post, we told you about the history of the District's original streetcar system, which dated back to the 1860s when the coaches were pulled by horses. Because the railroad never reached Great Falls, but instead terminated at Cabin John, it was often referred to as the "Cabin John Trolley". [63] D.C. officials moved up hearings on (and potential construction of) the Georgia Avenue Line because the redevelopment of the Walter Reed site would be heavily dependent on the streetcar reaching the area by the time the new homes and businesses opened. Historic Photos of Washington D.C. [1] Passengers could travel to Great Falls, Glen Echo, Rockville, Kensington and Laurel in Maryland; and to Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Vienna, Fairfax, Leesburg, Great Falls and Bluemont in Virginia. The Anacostia and Potomac River began expanding on June 24, 1898, by purchasing the Belt Railway; the next year, it bought the Capital Railway. The history of streetcars in Washington, D.C. has been approached before, but never in narrative format, and never by a gifted writer. The first streetcars in Washington, D.C., were drawn by horses and carried people short distances on flat terrain; but the introduction of cleaner and faster electric streetcars, capable of climbing steeper inclines, opened up the hilly suburbs north of the old city and in Anacostia. [18] Layton Lyndsey, reporting in The Washington Post, asserted the cars would be the first of their kind to be built in the United States and approved by the Federal Railroad Administration. The first streetcar was horse-drawn and ran from the Capitol to the State Department. In 1971, Robert W. Dickerson Jr. of Crozet, Virginia, became the first black superintendent of D.C. Though the two companies legally acted as different entities, they traveled identical routes on identical rails and shared a car barn (owned by WRECo) on Wisconsin Avenue NW at the District boundary. In 1892 it was ordered by Congress to switch to overhead electrical power and complete the line. The streetcar turnaround at 11th and Monroe NW is now the 11th and Monroe Streets Park. [45] After more delays, the line had been tentatively projected to open in January 2015,[46] but on January 16 the DDOT's director Leif Dormsjo announced that the Department would no longer issue any estimates for an opening date and that he intended to reorganize the project's management team. [59] The delays had caused the warranty on the mothballed Czech-produced streetcars to expire, and storage costs were running $860,000 a year. On August 2, 1894, Congress ordered the Metropolitan to switch to underground electrical power. The system was developed to provide electric motive power to streetcars via an underground conduit rather than overhead wires, since Congress had prohibited their use. [16] DDOT studied the feasibility of both a citywide system and one or more "starter" lines. World War I saw further increases in passenger traffic. The original Eckington Car Barn at 400 T Street NE burned down before 1920 and a new one was built to replace it. [55][56] The city was unwilling to build the project on the CSX tracks, only to have the other owners demand payment in the future. [7] The compressed air motors were a failure, and in 1899 the cars were equipped with the standard underground power system. [64], In January 2010, The Washington Post reported that the K Street Line would probably be the third line to be constructed. [17] The goal of the project was to bring light rail to Anacostia first (rather than last, as had happened with Metrorail), and to provide a speedier, more cost-effective way to link the neighborhood with the rest of the city. This article is about the streetcars that existed in Washington prior to 1962. [14] At the same time, an extension was built along Michigan Avenue NE to the B&O railroad tracks. DDOT opened bids for the now-$45 million contract to construct the Anacostia Line's tracks and infrastructure in August 2008. [5], In January 1955 the Capital Transit Company, then consisting of 750 buses and 450 streetcars,[41] sought permission for a fare increase, but was denied. Transit 1304 is kept at the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine. This article is about the streetcars that existed in Washington until 1962. The line from Friendship Heights to Rockville (formerly the Washington and Rockville), the P Street line (Metropolitan), the Anacostia-Congress Heights line (Capital Railway) and the Connecticut Avenue line in Chevy Chase (Rock Creek) were all replaced with buses. [1], Between 1896 and 1899, three businessmen purchased controlling interests in the Metropolitan; the Columbia; the Anacostia and Potomac River; the Georgetown and Tennallytown; the Washington, Woodside and Forest Glen; the Washington and Great Falls; and the Washington and Rockville railway companies, in addition to the Potomac Electric Power Company and the United States Electric Lighting Company. [28] So that spring, when employees asked for a raise, there was no money available and the company refused to increase pay. [90] The section from the aqueduct to Foxhall Road was purchased by the District of Columbia in the early 1980s to construct a crosstown watermain. Tracks can still be seen in the floors in some locations of the Bureau.[89]. 3520 Prospect Street Washington, District of Columbia United States. All images from antique stereoviews in the author’s collection. Today, some streetcars, car barns, trackage, stations, and rights-of-way exist in various states of usage. Jan 15, 2021 Service Alerts. [17] The first line to be built would be a 7.2-mile (11.6 km) "starter" streetcar line in Anacostia. Wants Streetcars to Roll By Mid-2013.'. [24] The Washington Interurban switched next and its tracks were removed when Bladensburg Road was repaved. [23][24][25] By 1917 it had been extended out Pennsylvania Avenue past 33rd Street SE.,[26] but the company ceased operations by 1923.[27]. Capitol, North O Street and South Washington Railway, Two more Washington D.C. streetcar companies operating in Maryland, Washington and Great Falls Electric Railway, East Washington Heights Traction Railroad, Washington, Spa Spring and Gretta Railroad, Washington, Alexandria, and Mount Vernon Electric Railway, Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railroad, American Sight-Seeing Car and Coach Company, Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Electric Railway, Amalgamated Association of Street, Electric Railway and Motor Coach Employees of America, Arlington and Fairfax Motor Transportation Company, Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis interurban, Here's a General Electric ad about PCC cars in Washington, North American Co. v. Securities and Exchange Commission, Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, D.C. After going electric in the last decade of the 19th century, the streetcars quickly became a crucial part of transportation in the nation's capital, just as they were in other cities across the country. [7], The Baltimore and Washington Transit Company was incorporated prior to 1894, with authorization to run from the District of Columbia, across Maryland to the Pennsylvania border. [30] For the first time, street railways in Washington were under the management of one company. 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The full $35 million plan to depress streets as trenches for exclusive streetcar use never materialized, but in 1942 an underground loop terminal was built at 14th and C Streets SW under the Bureau of Engraving and [51] on December 14, 1949, the Connecticut Avenue subway tunnel under Dupont Circle, running from N Street to R Street, was opened. When Washington Traction defaulted on its loans on June 1, 1901, Washington and Great Falls moved in to take its place. Streetcars followed 23 years later, creating a successful business center and encouraging development in the neighborhood. Part of the right-of-way on the Georgetown campus was removed in the spring of 2007 to create a turning lane off of Canal Road NW. [9], In April 2014, DDOT estimated that the H Street Line would open in the fall of 2014. The City and Suburban and the Georgetown and Tennallytown operated as subsidiaries of Washington Railway until October 31, 1926, when it purchased the remainder of their stock. It expanded to full operations from the Navy Yard to Georgetown on October 2, 1862. At the same time, the car barn on the west side of Wisconsin at Ingomar was razed and replaced with the Western Bus Garage. After three years, streetcars forced the chariots out of business. [12] After 1888, many cities, including Washington, turned to electric-powered streetcars. Streetcar Lines criss-crossed the city from 1862 to 1962. [19] Metro proposed allocating half the total amount to build the D.C. streetcar line, complete the Silver Line, build a streetcar line on Columbia Pike in Arlington County in Virginia, and build a Purple Line light rail link between Bethesda and New Carrollton in Maryland. [55], The remaining system, including lines to the Navy Yard, the Colorado Avenue terminal, and the Bureau of Engraving (Routes 50, 54) and to the Calvert Street Loop, Barney Circle, and Union Station (Routes 90, 92) was shut down in January 1962. [1], After the Herdic Company went under, the Metropolitan Coach Company began running horse-drawn coaches in conjunction with the Metropolitan Railroad, carrying passengers from 16th and T Streets NW to 22nd and G Streets NW. [13] On August 28, 1937, the first PCC streetcars began running on 14th Street NW. [55][56], DDOT and Metro announced in April 2006 that work on the revised streetcar line in Anacostia would start again in a few months. [7] In 1890, the railway started operations connecting Georgetown to the extant village of Tenleytown. By early 1946, the company would place in service 489 of the streamlined, modern PCC model and, in the early 1950s, become the first in the nation to have an all-PCC fleet. The city's first motorized streetcars began service in 1888 and generated growth in areas of the District beyond the City of Washington's original boundaries. [1], Horsecars, though an improvement over horse drawn wagons, were slow, dirty and inefficient. "D.C. [15], DDOT issued a favorable report, and the D.C. Council approved an expenditure of $310 million for the streetcar project in September 2002. The only Washington streetcar still in the District is Capital Traction 303 which serves as an exhibit in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. [1], The East Washington Heights Traction Railroad was incorporated on June 18, 1898. Over the years, their numbers expanded. DC Streetcar The DC Streetcar started passenger service Saturday, February 27, 2016, with the H Street/Benning Road, NE, line. Seven more, including D.C. [12], The District of Columbia subsequently decided to build the initial components of the DC Streetcar system on its own. ", Broom, Scott. Western Carhouse or Tennally Town Car Barn), the first car barn and powerhouse for the Tennallytown line, was built around 1897 at what is now the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue NW and Calvert Street NW. [1] Construction began by March 22, 1908. [1][13] In 1892, they extended their track along 14th to Park Road NW. It changed its name to the Belt Railway on February 18, 1893.[1][2][7]. Three other cars owned by the Trolley Museum were destroyed in a fire on September 28, 2003. In 1923, the number of streetcar companies operating in Washington cut in half as three companies switched to buses. [11] In 1888 the Anacostia and Potomac River expanded from the Navy Yard to Congressional Cemetery, and past Garfield Park to the Center Market (now the National Archives) in downtown. Perhaps the most visible remnant of the streetcar system is the Metrobus system, run by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). [9] On December 17, 2012, DC Streetcar officials said only 20 percent of the H Street line remained to be completed, and that they anticipated streetcars to be rolling in October 2013. The first threat to the streetcars came with the introduction of gasoline powered taxicabs. [54] However, 10 months into the project, DDOT and Metro temporarily mothballed the streetcar line. In 1872, it built a line on 9th Street NW and purchased the Union Railroad (chartered on January 19, 1872). However, the railroad never actually used any such watercraft. (Opens in a … In 1910, it began running cars along a single track from a modest waiting station and car barn near 15th Street NE and H Street NE along Bladensburg Road NE to Bladensburg. [22] The board would oversee the establishment of routes and transit fares. The last streetcar on the Anacostia-Congress Heights line ran on July 16, 1935. "Streetcars Return to D.C.", Young, Joseph. [17], Initially, the line was planned to run along the abandoned CSX railway tracks (known as the Shepherd Industrial Spur) from the Minnesota Avenue Metro station to the Anacostia Metro station, then cross the 11th Street Bridges before connecting with the Navy Yard–Ballpark and Waterfront Metro stations. To prevent transit disruption, Congress on June 5, 1900, authorized the Washington and Great Falls to acquire the stock of any and all of the railways and power companies owned by Washington Traction. The taximeter, invented in 1891, combined with the combustion engine, created a new form of public transportation. [29] They are United Streetcar model 100. Back at the powerhouse, big steam engines would turn huge generators to produce the electricity needed to operate the streetcars. [32] In April 2009, DDOT announced that the Anacostia streetcar line would not be complete until at least 2012. Vanderwerken's success attracted competitors, who added new lines, but by 1854, all omnibuses had come under the control of two companies, "The Union Line" and "The Citizen's Line." It became clear that the underground electrical system was superior, so it quickly abandoned cable cars and switched to electrical power on July 22, 1899. [7] The compressed-air motors were a failure and in 1899 the company switched to the standard underground electric power conduit. [20] In 1897 it experimented with the "Brown System", which used magnets in boxes to relay power instead of overhead or underground lines, and with double trolley lines over the Navy Yard Bridge. Sun, Lena H. "Streetcars Could Be Running on D.C. Roads by Late Next Year. (Opens in a new window. [45], When electric streetcars began, several lines also delivered freight on rail cars running on their lines. ", "Return of the (modern) streetcar: Portland leads the way", "First of Three American Made DC Streetcar Vehicles to Arrive in District on Tuesday, January 21", Neibauer, Michael. The 2.4-mile DC Streetcar line services eight stops from Union Station to Oklahoma Avenue at RFK Stadium’s parking lot. The Wolfsons began paying themselves huge dividends until, in 1955, the war chest was down to $2.7 million. "D.C. streetcar makes its first voyages on H Street. But as in most cities, the majority of D.C.-area residents prefer to drive alone in their cars from their homes to their workplaces. [5][9][4], The system's H Street/Benning Road Line began public service on February 27, 2016. DC Streetcar runs free, daily trips along the H Street NE Corridor and Benning Road from Union Station to Oklahoma Avenue. [48] In early March 2015, DDOT suggested that the project may be scrapped entirely, if an outside review being conducted by the American Public Transportation Association found "fatal flaws",[49] but the findings, released on March 16, found no "fatal flaws" in the project. [10] Noting its diminished ambitions, it became the Washington Interurban Railway on October 12, 1912,[1] and changed the Railway to Railroad in 1919. In 1977, the tracks on M and Pennsylvania in Georgetown were paved over. ", Neibauer, Michael. Almost as soon as they were instituted, companies began looking for alternatives. Transit 1470 is kept at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia, Capital Transit 09 is at Rockhill Trolley Museum in Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania, Capital Transit 010 is maintained at the Connecticut Trolley Museum and D.C. [34] A new contract was awarded to United Streetcar in April 2012, for two streetcars,[35] and the order was expanded to three cars in August 2012. [5] On December 3, 1961, the streetcar lines to Mount Pleasant (Routes 40, 42) and 11th Street (Route 60) were abandoned. Elsewhere, the track was buried under pavement. [54] He then attended Virginia State College. During the same period, transit trips dropped by 40,000 trips per day and automobile ownership doubled. [23], On August 22, 2011, DDOT announced the first streetcars would roll on the H Street line in the summer of 2013. Waterfront Proposal Shaping Up. Just as the horse cars had replaced carriages and the electric streetcar replaced horse cars, so too were buses to replace the electric streetcars. To get electricity to the streetcars from the powerhouse where it was generated, an overhead wire was installed over city streets. [42], In 1932, the Arlington and Fairfax Motor Transportation Company was established to replace the streetcar service of the Arlington and Fairfax which lost the right to use the Highway Bridge. Several hundred cars were scrapped, cut in half at the center door and junked. ", DeBonis, Mike. Tracks also exist under Ellington Place NE, 3rd Street NE, 8th Street SE, and elsewhere. Empire of Mud: The Secret History of Washington, DC; Classical Architecture and Monuments of Washington, D.C. That makes it a good time to look back at the history of Washington's once-grand system of electric streetcars. [29] In 1898, the Brightwood was ordered to switch to underground electric power on pain of having its charter revoked. It was a financial failure though and on August 13, 1915, the company ceased operations. [7] The streetcars traveled from the Arsenal and crossed the Navy Yard Bridge to Uniontown (now Historic Anacostia) to Nichols Avenue SE (now Martin Luther King Avenue) and V Street SE where a car barn and stables were maintained by the company. "DC's Streetcar Project Halted For Now. See: Layton, Lyndsey. Frustrated, employees went on strike on July 1, 1955. [42] But the streetcars were also under increasing threat from competition. [50] In 1936, the system introduced route numbers. Much of the property was destroyed when Q Street was extended, but the remainder lasted until at least 1920. Find need-to-know information about traveling the DC Streetcar corridor, including guidelines for safety and courtesy. Several of the district's streetcar lines were extended into Maryland, and two Virginia lines crossed into the district. In 1927 the two companies were split and sold at auction. The East Washington Heights became the first streetcar company to switch,[44] replacing its two streetcars and one mile of track with a bus line. As D.C. continues to wait for the official launch of the H Street Streetcar, local historian John DeFerrari takes readers on a joyride through the history of D.C. streetcars with his new book, "Capital Streetcars: Early Mass Transit in Washington." The strike, only the third in D.C. history and the first since a three-day strike in 1945, lasted for seven weeks. [1], Using electricity from the power plant built to power its cable operation, the Columbia won permission in 1898 to build a line east along Benning Road NE, splitting on the east side of the Anacostia. [15] In 1890 it was extended across the Maryland line to Bethesda. [1] The Metropolitan switched the rest of the system to electric power on July 7, 1896[1] In 1895, the Metropolitan built a streetcar barn near the Arsenal and a loop in Georgetown to connect it to the Georgetown Car Barn. It was incorporated in 1888 and started operations in 1890 on two blocks of Florida Avenue east of Connecticut Avenue. [30], After Capital Traction's powerhouse at 14th and E NW burned down on September 29, 1897, the company replaced the cable cars with an electric system. [5][13] In 1889, the line was extended along T Street NE, 2nd Street NE and V Street NE to Glenwood Cemetery, but the extension proved unprofitable and was closed in 1894. [87] In 2007, D.C. Council member Jim Graham began consideration of a suggestion to allow adult-themed clubs to move into the property. Once known as “The Black Broadway,” the U Street Corridor was the epicenter of black culture and art for much of the 20th century. Those cars ran for decades all over the world. The rest of the system switched to cable by August 18, 1892. DC Streetcar extensions are ‘a high priority’ for budget Toll lanes over Potomac, DC Streetcar changes, road widenings: Big projects inch forward Officials look at new ways to power DC streetcars [5], With further bustitution, the Columbia Railway Company Car Barn was converted to a bus barn in 1942.[47][48]. The last old DC Transit streetcar still in service, in Sarajevo. [38] The former Washington, Arlington & Falls Church Railroad reemerged as the Arlington and Fairfax Railway[38] and continued to serve the city on the Washington-Virginia route until January 17, 1932, when the Mt. After a strike in 1955, the company changed ownership and became DC Transit, with explicit instructions to switch to buses. Cemeteries, parks and parkways make up the remainder. "Cash-Strapped Local Officials Balk At Metro's Capital Expenditures", "New Transit Board Would Manage Streetcars", "Streetcar Backers Gather Ammo to Sway Skeptics", Neibauer, Michael. [42] (Here's a General Electric ad about PCC cars in Washington. A car barn was built in Mount Pleasant around 1892. [34], The railroad completed its tracks in 1896 and began serving a waiting station at 14th Street NW and B Street NW. [32] Streetcar tracks were installed on H Street as part of the H Street/Benning Road Great Streets project that was started in December 2007 and ended on June 30, 2011.[6][41][42][43]. The 14th Street branch switched to electric power on February 27, 1898, the Pennsylvania Avenue division on April 20, 1898, and the 7th Street branch on May 26, 1898.[1]. [1][5] Another line opened on November 15, 1862. [12] The first project was proposed for Alexandria, Virginia, in 1999. [17] By 1900, the tracks had extended to Rockville. Commuters were forced to hitch rides and walk in the brutal summer heat.[41]. [7] It was also allotted space in the Georgetown Car Barn. D.C. Council Member David Catania specifically requested that DDOT study adding streetcars in the Anacostia neighborhood.

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