The Metropolist

Reminiscing About D.C.'s Long-Lost Streetcars

A streetcar sits at 14th and I streets NW in 1945. Only one car in the fleet was air-conditioned, a reader recalls, and students could ride for as little as 3 cents.
A streetcar sits at 14th and I streets NW in 1945. Only one car in the fleet was air-conditioned, a reader recalls, and students could ride for as little as 3 cents. (The Washington Post)
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By The Metropolist
Friday, June 12, 2009

A generation or two ago, they crisscrossed Washington and most of the other major cities in the country. Now, for many people in this region, streetcars exist only in memory.

I was probably a million-mile rider. They were convenient, fairly quiet, comfortable, and cheap at 10 cents per ride. There were so many that you never had to wait long for one. They went anyplace I wanted to go.

When I was in school, you could buy a booklet of school tickets to ride the bus or streetcar, and the price came to 3 cents per ticket. Many days after school, instead of going home, I would go downtown on a school ticket and go home on a transfer. School kids from all over town would be there. We didn't actually do much, but it was the thing to do.

-- Betty Collins, Silver Spring

My dad had a mashed nickel he kept for a good luck piece. One day my mom mistakenly grabbed the nickel with a handful of change from dad's bureau. When she realized she had spent his "lucky" nickel, she was very nervous and debated what to do. Now, there was a trolley turnaround near our house at the corner of 14th Street and Colorado Avenue NW. She walked down there with another nickel, and the conductor was sympathetic. He allowed her to place the nickel on the track while they drove the streetcar back and forth several times till the nickel was adequately bent.

-- Peggy Ritzenberg, Bethesda

When I was about 17 or 18 years old, I was riding on a streetcar going up F Street. And I was chewing gum. A lady sitting across the aisle from me stood up as she was getting off at the next stop. She stood next to me, leaned down and said, "You look like a cow, chewing its cud." I have not chewed gum since.

-- Nancy Rideout Parker,

Annapolis


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