Where Did Cleveland’s Streetcars Go?

History Detectives on PBS will air a program next Monday, August 28 at 9:00 pm on the disappearance of Cleveland’s streetcar network and, by extension, the fate of urban transit systems in the USA.  I have not seen the program and cannot give an advance review, but you can link to the program’s website here.  PBS (WNED Buffalo) airs on cable 61 in Toronto.

The railfans among us will know that Toronto operated ex-Cleveland PCC cars in trains on the Bloor-Danforth line along with ex-Louisville cars that hardly ever ran in that city before Cleveland bought them.

The systematic dismantling of streetcar networks all over North America is a long, sad story tied inevitably to the rise of the automobile.  Toronto was lucky to keep its streetcars — a healthy, growing downtown made for a much different transit environment — but we almost lost them to subway mania in 1972.  Alas, the LRT network that might have grown from our original system is still mostly a dream while politicians compete for their own subway lines.

One thought on “Where Did Cleveland’s Streetcars Go?

  1. Not much else on the tube, so I watched the show. Not a bad program, maybe a bit tacky, but otherwise interesting and informative. There were some interesting tidbits about the National City Lines scandal and it alleges that Cleveland politicians (as well and in other cities) personally benefited from ordering GM buses, including the grant of a local dealership franchise. A commercial network could not get away with what this PBS show was saying, given that the auto industry is such a big advertiser.

    As a footnote, it was noted that cars built for Cleveland were sold to Toronto (with some aerial images), and retired in 1982. No video or mention of our system that is thankfully largely intact.

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