[RailTransportation] TRANSPORTATION: STREETCAR : UNITED STATES: CITIES: WASHINGTON D.C.: DC Streetcar’s Exuberant Opening Day, in Photos and Video

 

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TRANSPORTATION: STREETCAR :

UNITED STATES: CITIES: WASHINGTON D.C.:

DC Streetcar’s Exuberant Opening Day, in Photos and Video

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DC Streetcar’s Exuberant Opening Day, in Photos and Video

by Dan Malouff

February 29, 2016

Greater Greater Washington

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/29911/ dc-streetcars-exuberant-opening-day-in-photos-and-video/

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A shorter URL for the above link:

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http://tinyurl.com/z34od3c

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DC Streetcar is open and carrying passengers, following a festive opening day on Saturday. Enjoy this photo tour reliving the fun, and see even more at GGWash’s opening day Flickr group.

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DC’s First Streetcar Opened in 1862. Here’s What it Was Like.

by John DeFerrari

February 25, 2016

Greater Greater Washington

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/29834/ dcs-first-streetcar-opened-in-1862-heres-what-it-was-like/

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http://tinyurl.com/hvkmjlb

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The DC Streetcar will start carrying passengers on Saturday, but that won’t be the first time we’ve seen a streetcar’s opening day. DC’s first streetcar system opened in the middle of the Civil War after taking only six months to build. It ran horse-drawn streetcars along Pennsylvania Avenue, and was an instant hit.

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I recently wrote about the 100-year history of streetcars in the District in my book, Capital Streetcars: Early Mass Transit in Washington, DC. Like my recent post about how streetcars shaped DC’s Eckington neighborhood, the following has been adapted from the book.

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In the early 1850s, omnibusesrickety stagecoach-like wagons that could hold maybe a dozen riderswere the only “mass transit” available in Washington. As early as 1852, Gilbert Vanderwerken, an ambitious businessman who owned the city’s omnibus company, petitioned Congress for the right to establish the city’s first streetcar system, running from Georgetown to Capitol Hill, but it didn’t have the political backing to make it through Congress.

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Meanwhile, other cities rapidly built streetcar systems: Brooklyn in 1853, Boston in 1856, Philadelphia in 1858, and Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Cincinnati in 1859. Finally, in May 1862one year into the Civil War and ten years after streetcars had first been proposedCongress agreed to one in DC, passing a law incorporating the Washington & Georgetown Railroad.

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The project had a very tight timeline

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The charter specified three lines: an east-west route along Pennsylvania Avenue from Georgetown to the Navy Yard; a north-south route along Seventh Street from Boundary Street (Florida Avenue NW) to the Seventh Street wharves in Southwest; and another north-south route along Fourteenth Street from Boundary Street to Pennsylvania Avenue.

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Although Congress had dawdled on authorizing the railway, it required the new company to put the first segment of its line into operation within 60 working days of incorporationan astonishingly short timespan considering that a war was on and no cars, ties, rails, or other materiel were on hand. Nevertheless, luck was on the side of the fledgling railway. Construction began within a few weeks; rails were ordered and arrived in time for a crew of 40 to begin laying them in June 1862.

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The first two cars for the new railway arrived from the manufacturer on July 11th. They were elegant pieces of craftsmanship intended to entice well-to-do riders who had no previous experience of public transportation. The Evening Star described them in detail: “The seats on the sides are covered with fine silk velvet, and the windows, which are stained and plain glass combined, are furnished with cherry sash and poplar blinds, beside handsome damask curtains.

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snip

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In October, with all three lines nearly finished, the company’s directors donated twenty old omnibuses to the army for use as ambulances. They were much needed for the war effort and apparently served that purpose well.

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People loved riding the streetcar

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Praise for the new streetcars ran high as Washingtonians began shaping their daily routines around them. People from all walks of life took to the new form of transport. “I rode all the way from Georgetown. What a blessing & a comfort,” wrote Martha Custis Williams, the great great granddaughter of Martha Washington, who lived at Georgetown’s stately Tudor Place mansion.

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In July 1863, The National Intelligencer commented on the Seventh Street line, which had opened nine months earlier: “We cannot help admiring the regularity with which the cars on this road now run. There is no detention to passengers whatsoever. The energy manifested by the gentlemanly conductors meets the approbation of everyone who rides them. We cannot help speaking of the politeness of Conductor Steptoe T. Tune. His obliging manners and amiability give him the praise of all who chance in his car.”

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Once fully operational, the Washington & Georgetown Railroad scheduled cars to arrive on a five-minute headway and charged a five-cent fare with a free transfer between routes.

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Washington Streetcar Stumbles Could Benefit de Blasios Plan

By EMMA G. FITZSIMMONS

February 26, 2016

New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/27/nyregion/ washington-streetcar-stumbles-could-benefit-de-blasios-plan.html

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http://tinyurl.com/gqvftu2

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WASHINGTON  The empty streetcars started their test runs down H Street more than a year ago, a slow-rolling taunt for a fast-changing neighborhood left to wonder when the line might finally open.

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The promise of the streetcar has already helped to revitalize the 2.4-mile corridor east of Union Station, city officials say. But many who live and work here are decidedly indifferent, complaining that the line, which is set to open on Saturday, is too short, and that the streetcars clog traffic.

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Its a big, in-the-way elephant, said Valentine Jackson, a barber who works on H Street. You can walk faster than it would take to get you from one end to the other.

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A similar dream of spurring economic development has driven New York City to propose building what could be the largest new streetcar system in the country, along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront. But Washingtons experience serves as a cautionary tale, underlining the challenges even supporters say could complicate the de Blasio administrations plans.

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Asked about Washingtons troubles, Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, predicted a smoother path for New York.

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We love Washington, D.C., but were different, Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference this month to promote the $2.5 billion Brooklyn Queens Connector proposal. I think we have tremendous capacity here for major projects.

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His transportation commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, said that she had spoken with officials in Washington and that New York would learn from their mistakes.

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The DC Streetcar Is Finally Running

By Benjamin Freed

February 27, 2016

http://www.washingtonian.com/2016/02/27/ the-dc-streetcar-is-finally-running/

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http://tinyurl.com/gsssj6g

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More than a decade after DC officials first raised the idea, and seven years after the tracks were laid down, Washingtons first streetcar in more than half a century entered service Saturday morning, finally rolling down H St. and Benning Rd., Northeast.

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Today we start the DC Streetcar, Leif Dormsjo, the District Department of Transportations director, said at a ceremony packed with current and former city officials and transit geeks.

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The streetcar, which has cost the city about $200 million since it was first conceived, missed numerous deadlines over the years, held up by several bouts of faulty planning and shoddy record-keeping. Dormsjo, the seventh person to hold DDOTs top job since the streetcar was first conceived, got much of the credit for finally getting it running.

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But the agonizing wait for streetcar service couldnt be overlooked by its biggest boosters.

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On behalf of four mayors, many DDOT directors, thank you for your patience, Mayor Muriel Bowser said, addressing residents of the neighborhood that bloomed around H Street in the years since the line was first announced. I inherited all of the good things happening in the District of Columbia, and I inherited some of the lulus.

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Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, DCs representative in Congress, was nearly in disbelief before boarding the inaugural run. Weve been waiting so long for this streetcar, it feels like magic, she said. Is this really happening?

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DC’s first electric streetcar helped build Eckington

by John DeFerrari

February 12, 2016

Greater Greater Washington

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/29693/ dcs-first-electric-streetcar-helped-build-eckington/

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A shorter URL for the above link:

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http://tinyurl.com/jgvn7tg

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DC got its first electric streetcar in 1888 when the Eckington & Soldiers Home Railway went into operation. A ban on overhead wires kept it from running downtown, and the company ultimately went out of business because it couldn’t find another option.

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I recently wrote about the 100-year history of streetcars in the District, from 1862 to 1962 (the span from the first and last times a streetcar carried passengers in DC), in my book, Capital Streetcars: Early Mass Transit in Washington, DC. The following story about the Eckington line has been adapted from the book.

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Eckington developed alongside the streetcar

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Eckington was perhaps the first “true” streetcar suburb in the District in the sense that it was designed from the start as a streetcar destination. It originally had been the estate of Joseph Gales Jr. (17861860), publisher of the National Intelligencer newspaper and one of the city’s early mayors. He had named it Eckington after his birthplace in England.

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Real estate investor Colonel George Truesdell (18421921) bought the Eckington tract in 1887 with the idea of building a modern bedroom suburb on it. Truesdell laid out his new subdivision as an idyllic suburban community with large house lots, stunning views of the city and desirable modern amenitiesincluding paved streets, stone sidewalks and electric streetlightsthat more established District neighborhoods still didn’t have.

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In 1888, Truesdell obtained a Congressional charter for a streetcar company specifically to serve his pretty new suburb. The line would include an electric station to power the railway as well as the brilliant streetlights to light up Eckington at night. Poles went into the center of the roadway to carry the overhead wires for the streetcars. It was an ideal arrangement.

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snip

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The struggle over overhead wires continued, but ultimately failed

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The railway soldiered on, its fight for overhead wires soon degenerating into a game of chicken with the Star and the DC commissioners. Exasperated that an overhead trolley system could not be installed to replace the failed battery cars, the railway converted its downtown extension to horsecars, ignoring the fact that horsecars were supposed to have been phased out by that time.

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More horsecar lines were added in 1894 while the original overhead trolley line along New York Avenue and to the north continued to operate. The company’s directors figured that people would be so fed up with these outmoded cars that Congress would give in and allow them to install an overhead trolley system.

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The Evening Star editors were doubly upset about this turn of events. Not only were horsecars back, but the Eckington company had also missed a revised July 1, 1895 deadline for taking down the poles and overhead wires on New York Avenue, which the newspaper referred to as “obnoxious obstructions.”

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After the Star redoubled its public complaints, the company tried a new tack. The overhead wire system on New York Avenue was removed, and that portion of the Eckington line began runningyes, more horsecars!

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The Washington Post commented that switching to horses “will mean a considerable increase in the expense to the company, which already has its stables full of horses that are not in condition for use, and it will give the residents on the line a poorer service.

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snip

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A final try didn’t work

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A last desperate effort went into making the Eckington line viable. In early 1896, the company hosted the demonstration of a streetcar powered by compressed air, which it gambled would be both publicly acceptable and economically viable. The compressed air system used the pressure of air from canisters stored underneath the passenger seats to push pistons that turned the car’s wheels. The compressed air was heated with steam to increase its force as it moved out of the canisters.

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Theory no longer, streetcars scrutinized by commuters, partiers

By Michael Laris

February 29, 2016

Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/
theory-no-longer-streetcars-scrutinized-by-commuters-partiers/
2016/02/29/7df5c48c-df10-11e5-846c-10191d1fc4ec_story.html

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A shorter URL for the above link:

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http://tinyurl.com/jagejhe

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Tera Dowell-Vests bus, or at least the bus she hoped would be her bus, was so jammed Monday that the driver wouldnt even open the door. So she walked a few blocks to a streetcar stop on H Street.

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I was fully expecting the streetcar to be packed. Its going to be like San Francisco, with people hanging off the back bumper to get to us, Dowell-Vest said. What the communications professor got instead was an airy, almost empty streetcar that showed up within three minutes  and a sweet commute.

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Everything looks new. And the ride itself feels new, and thats exciting, said Dowell-Vest, noting she felt none of the lurching thats a constant of bus life. You dont want to start your day feeling like youve been jerked around.

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I kind of find it pointless, because of all the money that went into this, Mattison said. Still, as the train pulled up at 9:50 a.m. Monday, he didnt argue with the results: It got me to work on time.

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snip

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The streetcar already seems to be resolving issues for some.

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Warner Coleman, who works for the Districts Department of Human Services, said the streetcar may solve his parking problem near his office on H Street.

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Dont even talk about it. A lot of tickets  towed and everything, Coleman said. Ive just had the gamut.

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He said the city should make a deal with the federal government to allow commuters to use the usually empty RFK Stadium parking lot near the final streetcar stop. It would be good for drivers and feed passengers into the nascent streetcar system, Coleman said, while also pulling cars off congested streets.

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Capital Streetcars: Early Mass Transit in Washington, D.C., Part 3
General History
Author  John DeFerrari
Contributor     Ken Rucker
Edition illustrated
Publisher       Arcadia Publishing, 2015
ISBN    1467118834, 9781467118835
Length  256 pages

http://tinyurl.com/gpr52jf

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Washington, D.C.’s Streetcar Suburbs: A Comparative Analysis of Brookland and Brightwood, 1870-1900

http://hdl.handle.net/1903/16877

The evolution of public transportation systems in the
large American cities of the late nineteenth century culminated
in the innovation of the streetcar. Such transportation
changes affected urban structure and by the last
quarter of the century had produced a distinctive residential
area, the streetcar suburb. Washington, D.C. had a number
of such suburbs, some the result of subdivision development
associated with the extension of streetcar lines to link
existing village suburbs to the downtown core, others the
product of concurrent residential subdivision and streetcar
development. Such suburbs were predominantly middle-class,
white, residential areas.
An examination of two Washington, D.C. suburbs:
Brightwood and Brookland, indicated distinct physical,
social, economic, and demographic structures in these
village suburbs in the early 1880’s. After the subsequent
introduction of streetcar links to downtown Washington–an
employment core characterized by much white-collar
government employment–the two suburbs became increasingly
similar in terms of the chosen measurements. By the end of
the century, there was little in their structures to indicate
the very different paths they had taken to the same end.
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/1903/16877
Collections
Geography Theses and Dissertations
UMD Theses and Dissertations

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Trolley Trips in and about Fascinating Washington
Author  Katharine Mixer Abbott
Publisher       J. F. Jarvis, 1900
Length  127 pages

http://tinyurl.com/znfahk6

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Washington D.C. Streetcars (Maryland)
Editors Lambert M Surhone, Mariam T Tennoe, Susan F Henssonow
Publisher       VDM Publishing, 2011
ISBN    6134800988, 9786134800983
Length  140 pages

http://tinyurl.com/jltu3v8

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The Expanded Red Hook Streetcar Project A Cure For Transportation Deserts
Author  Bob Diamond
Publisher       Lulu.com
ISBN    1329689593, 9781329689596

http://tinyurl.com/gt6m5q5

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