Sunday, October 11, 2009

Streetcar Sundays - Boston, MA

Looking through old postcards, I realize how many cities and even very small towns had streetcars. Some still exist or have been brought back, but many disappeared in the 1950s. So, every Sunday I will highlight a postcard featuring streetcars, trams, trolleys, and cable cars. Stay tuned! I encourage comments from readers who are familiar with the particular systems and their history.

The first city in this series is Boston. Years ago, I read a very interesting book by Sam Bass Warner entitled Streetcar Suburbs: The Process of Growth in Boston, 1870-1900, which traces the influence of the streetcar on the pattern of housing development in the suburbs of Boston.  In the mid- to late 1800's, people generally walked to work. Streetcars enabled people to move out of the downtown, so that the inner city became an area of commerce. Lower-income residential areas surrounded the inner core and wealthier residents moved farther out.  Although the book is specifically about Boston, a similar process took place in many other cities.


  1. Great postcards with streetcars; especially the second one where business signage is clearly visible. Makes a better historical reference.

  2. I just searched for Streetcar Suburbs on your site to see if you were familiar with that classic work, and of course you read it. Something you have such a feeling and depth of knowledge about--and seem to enjoy so much--I say keep going, to heck with the number of comments. I see the same on my blog on certain items I just have to post and say my piece on, even though they draw no comments.

  3. Thanks, Linda. Much appreciated.

  4. America's first subway line was built in Boston. It originally serviced street car lines.

    Thanks for visiting my crazy blog!



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