Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tram Tuesday - Rotterdam, Netherlands

Like many cities throughout the world, Rotterdam started out with horse-drawn streetcars in 1879. Rotterdam also had steam-powered trams, which was more of a rarity; the majority of cities went from horse-drawn streetcars to electric-powered ones. In the case of Rotterdam, the electric-powered streetcars started replacing both steam-powered and horse-drawn streetcars in 1905. Line One, shown below, was the first electric-powered car and replaced a horse-drawn service.

On both of these cards, you see the pantographs above the streetcars; that's the electric rod device that collects electric current from the overhead lines. You don't see the overhead lines themselves though. They would have been visible on the photograph, but were often erased when the photo was colorized. Sometimes the pantographs weer also erased. It made for a cleaner picture.

Line 4 below, also replaced a horse-drawn service, and was added in 1906.

There are a lot of interesting details in this picture, including the advertisement on the left, the carts, the way people are dressed, and the over-sized chair on top of the building in the middle. Here's a close-up.
You can see the letters MEUB underneath. The entire word, blocked by a chimney, is probably meubilair, which is the word for furniture in Dutch.
Here are the backs of the cards in the same order.

The message, sent in 1908, reads

Dear Madame!
Our sincere greetings from the second house on the left. Your devoted E.M. Pool

For a complete history of trams in Rotterdam, visit The Tram of Rotterdam website.


  1. The signer on the post card, Your devoted E. M. Pool why does that name seem to ring a bell? It would be a great name to use in a mystery novel...I really like the photos too, especially the one that appears to have a chair on top of it! Very nice!

  2. Excellent real life/live action feel to the first card. And speaking of over-sized, the most peculiar thing to me on the second card is that enormous chimney stack at the center... or was it a kiln, defense tower, or cooling tower relic from a nuclear power plant of a lost race?

  3. Very nice pictures! So sad they didn't rebuild the old city after WWII. I believe that the 'chimney' on the second card is an old windmill (the Blauwemolen from 1772) without its blades.

  4. If they were removing the overhead cables they would have done well to remove the pantograph at the same time. They look odd floating around in mid air.

  5. Good point, Sheila. The only problem is that streetcar nerds start to wonder about what's propelling the streetcar. Is there a horse on the other side that you can't see? Is it powered by steam? an underground conduit? a cable? But you're right...the pantograph looks strange without the wires.

  6. Netherlands = windmill: That makes sense Rob, thanks. I didn't make the connection as the windmills I usually see in pictures are the stereotypical wood ones (and with the blades attached...).

  7. wonderful.
    All these cards are so rich with info.
    One unique thing about these old places is the presence of a mill (cloth mill?) in the city (the chimney) or it could be the other way around, the city came up around the mill.

  8. Beautiful, busy and so unusual. A view of life in motion. I remember I posted streetcar pictures a while ago, never noticing the missing overhead wires until you pointed it out! So that isn't a smokestack but an old windmill, pretty cool.



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