Monday, April 6, 2009

Guerrilla Streetcar Movement

Historians in LA are checking out historic houses along the streetcar lines that used to run all over the region. That got me thinking, we have housing evidence of streetcar lines in the city, but what if there were a guerrilla effort to stripe all the streets that once had streetcars on them. If people could see what had been lost, would they want it back?

9 comments:

Ian said...

i'd be down — just get a car rigged up with some chalk or paint to throw down your 4' 8 1/2" of historic glory. i have to say, looking at an old LA streetcar map from the early 1900s makes me really wish streetcars were still around. apparently the time they took to get to santa monica hasn't been beat since, and probably won't be until the subway to the sea is built.

oh well.

Anonymous said...

The story mentioned mentioned a Kunstler though it was JH it was W!

Anonymous said...

How about a real guerilla streetcar movement. Get some engineers together and a bunch of volunteer workers, and put in a streetcar line overnight. It would take meticulous planning and perfect execution, and might only be three blocks long, but I'm sure it can be done.

Jon said...

or if the tracks are still under the street re-expose them by pulling off the top coat of pavement.

on NW 23rd in Portland for many years the old narrow gauge streetcar tracks last used in 1950 (and brick roadway) have been very clearly exposed from under the deteriorating top surface of pavement. how i would love to further peel back the pavement here and expose a huge swath.

unfortunately next year this whole street will be completely rebuilt from the ground up.

Anonymous said...

I love this idea.

njh said...

There is a glue in rail that is used in Europe which can be installed in a night. You put down prefabricated concrete strips, then glue the rail in with some kind of rubber (the sort they put in gaps on bridges, probably a polyurethane I guess). I have no idea of the cost, and of course you need lots more than just rails - overhead wires, rolling stock, dispatch etc.

I also suspect that such glue in rails would not last long in the crappy concrete cobbles that pass for roads here.

Would be fun though... Come midnight monday!

Bob Davis said...

To be accurate in Los Angeles, one would need the paint rig to do both 4' 8.5" and 42"--most of the local streetcar lines were narrow gauge, a holdover from the days when LA had cable cars. (The surviving Muni cable lines in SF are 42" gauge). At Orange Empire we have a LA Ry map from the late 1930's posted in our LA Ry carbarn; I sometimes advise visitors who are really intrigued by the dense network of trolley lines that such a network can still be seen, but you have to fly to Melbourne, Australia to see and ride it. Melbourne also has a suburban electric network--rather like what the Pacific Electric could have become.

Richard Layman said...

I believe in the past few years I saw an article about streetcars in Brooklyn, and they put up temporary tracks for a couple days to demonstrate the old cars, but the search function on the NYT website doesn't seem to be working at the moment.

arcady said...

The thing in Brooklyn was, I believe, in the early 90s. They ran a streetcar on existing trackage which used to belong to a local switching railroad that ran on the streets along the waterfront and served the local industries. The group that did this later acquired a space to store their streetcar in Red Hook and built a short track on private property. There was also an abortive attempt to extend onto city streets.