Sunday, February 13, 2011

Streetcar Sunday -Memphis, Tennessee

The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) currently operates vintage trolleys which were re-introduced in the 1990s to help reverse urban decline and increase traffic to the downtown pedestrian mall. The trolleys they use today were originally used in Porto, Portugal, but Memphis also had its own vintage streetcar system in earlier years.

Memphis had streetcars starting 1895 and running until 1947. For a number of years after that, they ran trolley coaches, which are buses that run on electricity, but by the end of the 1950s, they had changed over to diesel buses. Streetcars may have been considered an antiquated nuisance at the time, but they seem to have helped greatly in revitalizing Downtown Memphis in recent years. The system is popular with both residents and visitors, assuring that it is well used at various times of the day and week.

There are several good links with information on the Memphis streetcar system. For a great historical overview, look at Mike Condren's Memphis Street Railway.  For current streetcar information and pictures, take a look at John Smatlak's website, and the American Public Transportation Association.


  1. Portugal! How interesting. As always, thank you for your informative posts and the wonderful postcards from the days when every city was a magnet for dreams.

  2. That must be one of the few places they have streetcars that aren't just for tourists.

  3. No doubt that 'vintage' trolleys are to some degree a ploy to attract passengers, and might be more of a draw for tourists than if they were of modern design- buses designed to look like vintage trolleys in towns with high tourist volume are a prime example of that mindset. But if there is regularly scheduled service that takes you on a route that isn't completely obscure, then locals are highly likely to use them too- it is just an effective way to get between point A and B, whether it is dressed in period drag or not.

    It seems to be a particularly American penchant to want things to look historical, even if they aren't, perhaps because we have done such a good job of trashing our actual historic infrastructure...

  4. Hallo Christine,
    ich wollt mal wieder Hallo sagen, dir einen schönen Sonntag wünschen und einen schönen Valentinstag natürlich auch.
    Alle Liebe

  5. Stunning postcard! It's like an exercise in how to draw perspective. A lovely building. I may have to look this up on Street View to see what it looks like now.

  6. Postcardy, the Portland, Oregon streetcar is heavily used by residents. It's extremely convenient.

  7. Hi Christine,

    What a cool postcard, I love it! If I ever get to Memphis, I'll be sure to hitch a ride on one. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving me a comment yesterday on my Sepia Saturday post. I really appreciate your interest.

    Take care and have a wonderful week,


  8. there is talk of bringing some back here in montreal, in two distinct sectors. that could prove interesting. i've been meaning to speak of our transit commision but i keep postponing this for other matters instead, but i found a little treasure of photos and i'm looking forward to sharing them on SEPIA SATURDAY. glad to hear reviving these in your city helped, as we are hopeful to achieve the same here. pity you didn't have a pic of yourself riding one...

  9. There is just something so satisfying about linens!

  10. so many antique postcards here, beautiful!



Related Posts with Thumbnails