Thursday, May 5, 2011

Grand Rapids streetcar

Saw this cool video on Boing Boing earlier this week. I'm familiar with the history of Michigan's streetcars, but it still stings to see how great public transportation was and how short sighted people were when they destroyed the systems.


  1. My grandmother is always saying the same thing about streetcars in France! And how now there's a trend in cities to put tramways back in and she's all, we had these decades ago!

  2. Once upon a time, so did Ann Arbor. Seemed to focus largely on the university, but also connecting it to not only downtown, but also lower town on the other side of the river.

    Today's downtown Huron St. Greyhound bus depot is on the site of one of the system's central hubs.

    Here's one of the early cars and if you read the caption you glean that not only was Ann Arbor's system the first in the state, but if you went out along the route down Packard street, you could get all the way to Ypsilanti (would that we could still do this…) as well as connect to the main rail line that could go to Detroit and Jackson. Just imagine, had time unfolded differently, this route might have transformed into a route to the airport, not unlike SEMCOG's Ann Arbor to Detroit line hopes to accomplish.

    One and two views of Main St. from the late 1890s and early 1900s, showing the trolley cars in action. The depressing scene in 1925 when trolleys ushered in their replacements, "The Scrap Heap For Mine" reads the banner on the trolley which was transporting a full band playing a funeral march. And then finally, 1939's repaving of Main St when the tracks were ripped out entirely.

    Having just spent the week in Portland, OR it couldn't be clearer to me that we completely screwed up.

  3. Hey look at that, Ray LaHood is swinging by Detroit today to announce Federal rail funding in the state. Sounds like Ann Arbor's first use of the money will go to… a parking garage though. Love you, cars.

  4. @Phil Dokas, that's kind of a letdown.

  5. Oops! Turns out we weren't privy to new plans that were shown off last night (?), which include the new rail station they originally targeted as a second phase effort. Here's hoping!