For 100 years, streetcar tracks crisscrossed the District, ferrying passengers through the city and out into Maryland. In 1962, the last of the streetcar routes was dismantled, victim of an America more enthralled with the private automobile than the aging trolley. Later this year, streetcars will return to D.C., and over the next 30 years, D.C. officials envision up to 37 miles of streetcar routes. This four-part series explores what is spurring this streetcar revival, how the trolleys will run and what they mean for the city's development.
The streetcar tracks have been in the ground on H Street Northeast since 2011, but delays in construction and getting three last streetcars have pushed back the starting date for passenger service numerous times. Just when will they run?
It's been 50 years since a streetcar last rolled along D.C.'s streets, and as city officials prepare to launch service along H Street, they're working to prepare residents, cyclists and drivers for a future of sharing the road with the trolleys.
The streetcar isn't only about moving people. In fact, advocates admit that it doesn't even move people as quickly as some cheaper alternatives. But what it lacks in speed it makes up for in spurring development — billions of dollars of it.
The streetcars are bringing rapid change to H Street, but even their fiercest defenders are asking the question: Can residents who lived through the bad times be able to remain for the good?