Did you know there was a time when most cities in Ohio, larger and smaller had the choice of rail passenger streetcars for all their transportation needs? In Cleveland, for example, many people knew exactly what it meant to walk more and rely on public transport---even much more than you see today. Indeed this was the way of life up until the mid 1950’s when the streetcars started to disappear due to reasons like decreased ridership from an ever-growing auto-dependent society lulled by the appeal of having one’s own transportation to escape the crowds of public transport--- AND lulled by the idea of the independence of living on one’s own transportation schedule, rather than the public transport schedule.
While this may have seemed like the most convenient way to go at the time, years later I think we are witnessing a resurgence in alternative transportation methods like biking, walking, bus and light rail--not only because of increased fuel costs, but also because of the fact that the “independent” schedule we used to enjoy in transporting ourselves rather than taking buses or trains, may no longer be the case. The reason for this is because urban sprawl has so crammed up the freeways, that a lot of people no longer find that scenario a bowl of fruit either!
Did you know that Cleveland has a gem of a streetcar museum paying homage to the history of streetcar transportation in the city and surrounding area? I will list the link to the museum at the end of this article. I have spoken with one museum contact and it was indicated to me that in the future, it is very likely that we will see a streetcar line return to Cleveland, called The Heritage Line, that will offer no only transportation around downtown, but also a chance to experience what it was like to ride these wonderful machines!
Below there is a link to a film that was apparently shot on one of the last days or maybe the last day of streetcar operation in Cleveland. Notice how people from all walks of life shared the trains as described in the video description. I find this interesting considering that many people these days here seem to think public transport is a second class form of transportation. Well, I suggest they travel to many other cities around the world and discover a whole other perspective! Maybe by seeing the short film below, we will remember what it was like here and see why rail should be a transportation choice made available to us in what is supposed to be the "land of choice" Today, many of the old Cleveland streetcars reside in Toronto Canada. For more information about streetcar history in Cleveland, contact the museum!
Streetcar Heritage Museum: