NEWS11 Remembers: Streetcars

Posted on: 8:00 pm, August 8, 2012, by , updated on: 07:46pm, August 8, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO. (KPLR) – They were part of the landscape of the early 20th century.  In Wednesday’s NEWS11 Remembers, Paul Schankman tells us of streetcars making a comeback in the Delmar Loop.     

Trolleys were a part of everyone`s life, it`s how people got around until after the first quarter of the 20th century, most people didn`t have automobiles so trolley cars were how you got places.

And by the beginning of the 20th century, you could take the trolley almost anywhere in St. Louis, with 350 miles of streetcar tracks criss crossing the city.

Trolley cars did all kinds of other things.  They delivered mail, there were mail trolley cars that distributed mail around the city, there were hearse trolley cars that carried the deceased to the cemeteries.  There were party trolley cars that you could rent for a party or a picnic, there were trolley cars that delivered vegetables, so trolley cars served every function that trolley cars now serve.

And now at the beginning of the 21st century, St. Louis is going back to the future with the planned Delmar Loop trolley.

As the president of the loop trolley company, Dr. Archibald hopes the new streetcar line will demonstrate the convenience and environmental advantages additional streetcar lines could bring to St. Louis, just as they already have in other cities.

For a lot of cities, I think trolleys are going to be a part of the transit mix going into the future.

So why did they streetcars go away in the first place?

Well, it`s a long story but the short answer is it was the result of a conspiracy by some of the big car and truck and oil companies; which together formed their own streetcar company, that went around buying up other street car companies and then closing them to eliminate the competition with the automotive industry.

As Dr. Archibald puts it, streetcars did not have a natural death, they were assassinated.

News 11 Remembers is brought to you by the Missouri History Museum and America`s Best Contacts and Eyeglasses.  I`m Paul Schankman.