When you think of streetcars, most people think of San Francisco, but did you know that New Orleans’ has the world’s oldest continuously operating electric street railway?
Streetcar beginnings were modest in 1835. It was a steam engine train that ran from the Vieux Carré along St. Charles to the outlying town of Carrollton (now the Uptown Riverbend area). In the 1860s the route became a horse-and mule-drawn line, and then went electric in 1893.
If you are visiting and need to get around this is a good alternate form of transportation to note. There are three different lines: St. Charles, Canal Street, and the Riverfront, each of which originates downtown but takes you different parts of the city.
The St. Charles Line: The cars themselves have mahogany seats and brass fittings. It has been around for more than 150 years. The route forms a 13.2-mile crescent from Carondelet at Canal Street in the Central Business District through the oldest and most majestic section of uptown New Orleans, around the Riverbend to Carrollton at Claiborne Avenue. To see a video about the St. Charles Streetcar visit http://www.neworleansonline.com/tools/transportation/gettingaround/streetcars.html#data
The Canal Street Line: For 40 years the Canal Streetcar has operated in the business district of the city. It travels a five-and-a-half mile route from the French Market, along Canal Street through the Central Business District of New Orleans and into the Mid-City area. The line ends at City Park Avenue and the historic city cemeteries.
The Riverfront Line: In operation since 1926 this streetcar starts in the French Market. The Riverfront Streetcar line is the first major capitol project in New Orleans that combines the resources of the public and private sectors.