Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
St. Charles Avenue Streetcar
The St. Charles Avenue Streetcar is a streetcar line in New Orleans, Louisiana. According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, it is the oldest continuously operating street railway system in the world.
The line starts uptown, an Carollton Avenue & Claiborne Avenue. It runs on Carrollton Avenue through the Carrollton neighborhood towards the Mississippi River, then near the river levee turns on to Saint Charles Avenue. It proceeds past entrances to Audubon Zoo, Tulane University and Loyola University New Orleans, continues through the Garden District, and ends at Canal Street in the New Orleans Central Business District at the edge of the French Quarter, a distance of about fifteen miles.
The line was founded as the New Orleans and Carollton Rail Road Company in February 1833. Service began in 1835, originally without a dedicated right-of-way, although one was eventually established in the neutral ground (the median). Over the early years the cars were powered by horses, mules, overhead cables, ammonia engines, and steam engines. It was electrified in 1893.
Post World War II, like in many US cities, many of the city's numerous streetcar lines were changed to buses. Preservationists protested the dismatling of the Canal Street streetcar line in the early 1960s. While they were unsucessful in saving the Canal line (which the city would bring back 40 years later), the preservationists succeeding in getting the city government to grant the Saint Charles line protected historic status.
In the Carrolton neighborhood the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority has a streetcar barn where the streetcars of the city's lines are stored and maintained. The shop there has become adept at duplicating any part needed for the cars, and converted some modern streetcars into near duplicates in appearance of the old cars for the city's newer streetcar lines.
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