I never thought about streetcars in New York until I saw the old one in front of the upscale Fairway Market in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The streetcar with the old factory behind it was a lot of fun to look at and lead to my most popular Instagram post at the time.
I wouldn’t have thought about New York streetcars again, except my husband saw streetcar rails in an open area of pavement by one of his job sites on the Brooklyn-Queens border. The streetcar went into service in 1899. It was replaced by a bus line in 1949. The old streetcar routes are now bus lines.
New York History
In 1832, New York was the first city in the world to have streetcars on rails. Horses pulled them down the streets. Now, New York is planning a project to restore a streetcar line, stretching along the Queens-Brooklyn waterfront.
Are Streetcars Better Than Buses?
To sum up a wonderful article from The Verge:
😮 Streetcars are half the speed of city buses
😱 The investment is much higher. This one will cost $2.5 billion USD…
😃 People like streetcars so they’re expected to be popular… just like the NYC Ferry I’m always writing about. The streetcars are expected to raise the real estate values of the areas they serve.
Don’t expect to see any on your next trip to New York. They won’t be in operation until 2024 so don’t expect to see them anytime soon. Still, you may run across some tracks or even long-abandoned streetcar stations.