This blog post was updated on November 8, 2018.
Perhaps no other sound besides the rattling of an old streetcar coming down a city street conjures up the most emotions of times since past. One Travel seeks out places where you can still experience that magic.
While the history of the United States pales in comparison to many countries, America still has its moments where you can take a ride back in time – like on an antique streetcar (and usually for about a dollar!) Hop aboard an antique streetcar in these U.S. cities and let your imagination, and the rattling, run wild.
Memphis: In Memphis, the streetcars can be bright pink and purple, as reflected in the city’s spirit. Hop aboard one of the three routes through town and you will find many doing the same, just along for the ride. The city features a Main Street Trolley, Madison Avenue trolley and a Riverfront Loop route. All three utilize authentic vintage trolley cars, carrying passengers through some of the downtown’s most notable destinations. One of the most scenic routes is the Riverfront Loop, taking travelers 2.5 miles with views of the Mississippi River. The restored vintage streetcars feature antique lighting fixtures and rickety wooden seats.
San Francisco: Cable-cars get all of the attention in San Francisco, but the streetcars are also worth a traveler’s time. The city supplies a historic streetcar trolley service, with many vintage streetcars making rounds around San Francisco, hailing from other cities like Philadelphia and St. Louis. Travelers shouldn’t miss hopping aboard the F-Market line, running along Market from Castro to the Embarcadero. The route features antique streetcars from all around the globe that have been beautifully restored. Take a seat and you could be sitting on a former streetcar from Portugal, England or even Russia.
New Orleans: While there are three streetcar lines in New Orleans, the most famous is easily the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar. What is now a symbol of the city has been running since 1835, back when mules originally pulled it. The line boasts of being one of the oldest continuously running trolley systems in the world. The St. Charles Avenue route takes locals and visitors past live oaks, antebellum mansions and Loyola and Tulane Universities. Olive green in color with brass detailing, a few of the cars are still the 1920s era Perley Thomas cars.
Tampa: While Tampa’s streetcars are just replications today, the city has a long connection to streetcar transportation. With uniformed conductors at the helm, Tampa had in place its first electric streetcar lines by 1892. Workers would take the streetcars into downtown Tampa or out to the cigar factories of West Tampa. Today, what travelers and locals ride are replicated streetcars, mostly from parts of antique Milan streetcars.
Photo credit: Chang’r