Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tram Tuesday - Milan, Italy

This is a phantom streetcar. Board at your own risk, because you never know where it could take you. It reminds me of the title of Buñuel's movie, Illusion Travels by Streetcar.

I am not an expert on perspective, but logic tells me that the man on the left is farther away than the streetcar, therefore he should appear smaller than the people riding it--the ones that are so tiny you can't even see them. Maybe he's walking away dejected because the conductor told him he was too big to board. More likely it's a case of turn-of the century photo editing. The image probably seemed a little dull, but nothing the addition of a streetcar wouldn't fix!

It doesn't look similar to the other streetcars in the background either, but it could be that there were different kinds operating at the same time. Still, the numbering of trams wasn't introduced until 1910, and I have a feeling the base image is earlier than that.

Trams have been operating continuously since 1876 in Milan, with transitions from horse-drawn to steam-powered, and then electric. Although there were also post WWII cuts that persisted through the 1970s, the system survived. As in a number of other cities, trams have managed to regain favor in Milan resulting in a revival of tram service.

The second card shows a seemingly congested center terminus in front of the magnificent Piazza del Duomo in Milan. There was no photo editing here. They didn't even remove the wire or cable that crosses the image diagonally.

Here's the ultimate edited postcard image, showing Berlin's Nollendorfer Platz. My guess is that the street was empty on the original image. I like the final result though.

Here's the back of the card.


  1. The last photo looks more like a painting, artistic, but not so realistic. After looking at the second photo I wonder if the cathedral is so large or are the trams that small? In the first photo the trams are also small, so maybe the Italian produce small trams (just like their Fiat 500).

  2. Absolutely the first postcard the street car seems to be out of place. I also find the man turning his head in the carriage in the last post card seems out of place or something different than the others on the same card. Nice scenes of the city in all of them!

  3. The last postcard looks like the work of Terry Gilliam! Great fun.

  4. Good call on the Terry Gilliam postcard. It is cool.

  5. I sure hope the giant/dwarf from your post the other day made it to Milan to take part in the oddly scaled street scene! Rob is right about the cathedral looking big, but it is over 300' wide and 350' tall, so I suppose it should. And I wish they also could have worked someone on a bike into that last image, although it is most excellent already...

  6. Very nice some great postcards here :)i am from gibraltar and i love to collect postcards if you would like me to send you a postcard from gibraltar go to my profile and check them out http://safe.mn/5zMr

  7. Hola Christine, primero, felicitarte por tan lindo blog, y segundo, darte las gracias por conservar y publicar tan maravillosas postales. son una verdadero tesoro de nuestra historia.
    Un abrazo.



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