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.