Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tram Tuesday - Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore wasn't the first American city to have streetcars, but it was at the forefront, especially when it came to the development of electrified lines. In 1885, Leo Daft electrified a horse-drawn streetcar line in Baltimore using a third rail electric traction system. Although it had its problems (loss of power,  during rain storms and electric shocks to the horses), it was clear that electric power was the wave of the future. This card shows a view of Light Street around 1920 with an electric streetcar and overhead wires.

Despite their early success and importance in transporting people, streetcars in Baltimore suffered the same fate as in many other cities.  Trolleybuses and then automobiles began to take over in the 1930s. Even so, photographs of Baltimore streetcars in the 1940s show full cars and a variety of passengers, including adults and school children and unsegregated black and white passengers. Baltimore streetcars made their final run in 1963.

Source: Library of Congress, Marjory Collins, around 1943
Today, there is no streetcar service in Baltimore, but there is an impressive Baltimore Streetcar Museum that offers rides on historic streetcars. You can find out more about the history of streetcars in Baltimore at the Maryland State Archives.

Here's the back of the card, sent to Elmer E. Miller in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1920.

The message reads:

I've received your card and sure glad to hear from you. I'm again enjoying good health and hope you are doing the same glad to hear that you are enjoying yourself. 
Frank T Plivacki


  1. Looks like there was no segregation of smoking/non-smoking passengers either, which the guy in the front row of the pic doesn't look too happy about...

  2. Beautiful Cards! I think it came later that there were segragations of smoking/non smoking passengers...I think it is very funny to look at the women behind the smoking guy. The white women in the left smile into the camera and the black woman on the right is looking quite cheesed off :D

  3. Yes, nice to see the cars were integrated back during the war. Though some in the foreground "look" like they not have agreed with that, but I'm judging here. Hard to imagine the smoking in such a crowded environment!



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