By contemporary news accounts, the people along upper Connecticut Avenue were happier than usual on this day 50 years ago, even though railroad enthusiasts were sad.
The noisy old-style streetcars that had rumbled up and down the thoroughfare ran for the last time on Sept. 15, 1935, and were replaced without ceremony by the bus line that still operates (since supplemented by the Red Line subway).
The buses, incidentally, were the first transit vehicles in Washington ever to be labeled with route numbers. Previously, lines simply were named.
It was the most significant District streetcar abandonment up to that time. The abandoned portion extended from the east end of what was then called the Calvert Street Bridge to Chevy Chase Lake. A small, independent Toonerville-like line from there to Kensington simultaneously was dropped.
The car line literally had opened the reach of Connecticut Avenue beyond Rock Creek, including Chevy Chase, to urban development. Built and originally operated after 1892 as the Rock Creek Railway Co., it was promoted by Sen. Francis G. Newlands (D-Nev.), who also controlled the Chevy Chase Land Co. That's how Newlands Street in Chevy Chase got its name.
An amusing footnote: According to the book, "100 Years of Capital Traction," a branch line was built into the zoo "which ran to the bears' den, where there was a waiting shed." No passengers ever were carried, however; the grade was too steep and the management considered it too dangerous to operate.