Thursday, June 27, 2013

Old Trolley

Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY


  1. The electric street car efficiently moved huge numbers of people into and out of cities all across the country. In the 1940s and 50s the auto industry (GM mostly) systematically put them out of business using underhanded techniques. It's a long, sad story. Many cities, like Minneapolis, Boston, and LA are now in the process of re-creating a few of those lost light rail lines at a cost of billions of dollars. Your photo is an icon of a lost era in urban transport.

    1. That's very interesting, Jeff. Obviously one way to sell more cars is to eliminate efficient mass transportation. I was hoping that this was actually a trolley car that ran through the streets of Brooklyn, but I was disappointed to find out that it was moved here from Boston, to be restored to what the Brooklyn trolleys looked like back in the '40-'50's. It was a part of a much grander plan to re-introduce a trolley line in Brooklyn. Unfortunately those plans have not come to fruition, although I think they are still under discussion. In the meantime, this car is left to the elements and vandals.

    2. It wasn't just the elimination of efficient mass transport, it was about space on city streets. By getting rid of trollies, there was more room for automobiles. But of course when the car numbers hit critical mass cities became "grid locked." This was partly due to the construction of expressways which brought huge numbers of cars into the central areas of cities. During the 1960s many cities, like NYC, tried to design themselves for cars, not people, and cleared even more poor and ethnic residential neighborhoods for more expressways. Also with the street cars gone, GM was free to sell huge fleets of busses to cities.