Sunday, August 8, 2010

Streetcar Sunday - Newark, New Jersey

Newark already had electric streetcars as early as 1880. They became so popular that there was a serious problem with streetcar congestion at this particular intersection of Broad and Market streets. In 1910, more than 552 streetcars per hour were passing through the intersection during peak times. By 1913, the number had increased to 600 per hour. In 1916, a new trolley terminal was built to divert some of the streetcar traffic from this intersection.

Although streetcar service continued to flourish along with motor buses and later subways, it met its demise as a result of the trolley bus. The trolley bus could follow the same streetcar routes, but was also more versatile because it could run on the overhead electric power or on diesel where there were no overhead lines. Whereas streetcars let their passengers off in the middle of the street, trolleybuses could pull over to the sidewalk. Trolley service on Broad street ended in 1937. Ten years later, there were no more streetcars at all in Newark.

This card shows two different streetcar types side by side.  I am guessing that the larger one was an interurban.

This card was sent to Sadie Rogers in Buffalo in 1906 with the cryptic message on the front:

July 21/ 06
Woman: -
Rocks whereon greatest men have often wreck'd.

The quote is from Paradise Regained by John Milton.


  1. Such an intriguing message - there is sure to be a back story there somewhere. And the picture is fabulous, so much detail crammed into so little space.

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  3. Are my eyeballs okay? I'm seeing a "July 21/06" date handwritten above the message, and a March postmark.

    I agree on the likelihood of the larger trolley being an interurban. I'd read a history of streetcar manufacturing way back when, and seem to recall streetcar operators preferred consistent dimensions in their rolling stock. At least some interurbans offered short-order service from their kitchenettes, which may account for some of the increased length.

    Does anyone still remember "second-story retail"? It's a safe bet the upper floors of those buildings were leased in part to sellers of sheet music, small jewelers, tailors, and other specialty retailers. Jack/Youngstown

  4. Rock N Roll!
    Very similat timeline in Britain with our trams.Although ,ironically, Trams-Systems are making something of a comeback here.

  5. i am a collector of postcards

    wow nice ventage postcard


    Sherif from Egypt

  6. Very interesting and rather ominous!

  7. Alan, Aimee, I'm guessing the message is intended to be jocose, maybe part of a flirtation by postcard between English teachers or university profs. Jack/Youngstown

  8. There's nothing cryptic about that message at all!

  9. Jack,
    Thanks for spotting something I missed. It is indeed odd that the date on the card is four months past the actual postmark date. Could this be the date of a future wedding?

  10. Sure, Christine, sounds plausible absent any better theory, and fits in with my notion that the Milton is meant ironically. Sadie and ENW exchange correspondence regarding a neighbor or friend's wedding. Sadie comes up w/ a quote disparaging men, ENW replies with this card, all of it meant in a ribbing way. Speculation? Sure. I'd like to hear any alternate theories. Jack/Youngstown

  11. Option X:
    Sadie was a dancer at a saloon that ENW used to frequent. ENW's friend fell under Sadie's spell and proposed to her. ENW felt a mixture of jealousy and concern for his friend.

  12. Uh, yeah, Christine. ENW in Newark finds out about the wedding of Sadie and Mr. X. He cold-bloodedly sends off this card, not caring the Milton quote will make him seem pompous and the object of saloon-dancer Sadie's scorn. The absence of a salutation and closing, or other personal touch, lends credibility to your theory. Jack/Youngstown

  13. That is quite a card along with the history. No wonder there was such congestion. Great looking card.

  14. It's hard to imagine 500 or 600 streetcars passing through the intersection in an hour.

  15. When I see these busy urban scenes from last century, I con myself that I'd have been, e. g., a young Newark businessman on the make before heading off to an early dinner of rib-eye and shoestrings. Truth is I'd more likely be among the army of immigrant wage slaves toiling for a pitiable few dollars a week under brutal conditions well away from postcard photogs. Market and Broad would be a psychologically distant place, exotic and intimidating.

    Brings to mind a quote from an Italian immigrant, if my memory's okay: "Don't come to America. The streets aren't paved with gold. The streets aren't paved at all. I'm the guy who's paving them." Jack/Youngstown

  16. Wow, mysterious message indeed. Maybe a brief encounter between two lovers...One can only imagine. I work in Newark, pass this intersection often. Great card. Broad and Market still quite busy with pedestrians, but side streets are often deserted even during lunch hour.

  17. Thanks, Christine. Glad I don't have to explain it to you! Jack/Youngstown

  18. I agree with Postcardy, a streetcar a minute seems almost impossible, but it sure sets a high standard for 'frequent service'!

  19. Christine, just when I think streetcar postcards are not that interesting and you come up with this-- luv it!



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