Tag Archives: streetcars

The city of roses and bridges

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Portland roses

Thinking about Washington, DC streetcars made me think about Portland – and how easy it was to get around without a car. The Portland Streetcar, which opened in 2001, is the first new streetcar system in the U.S. since WWII. Combined with the network of MAX light rail it makes for a great public transportation system – unfortunately a pretty rare thing in this country. Portland is just such a friendly and pleasant place! Public transportation that works is just one element of it. The city also consistently ranks as one of the “greenest” in America based on a variety of economic, environmental and clean tech categories.

Portland is called the City of Roses – quite deservedly. There are several theories as to where that nickname came from but the undisputed fact is that roses have a long tradition here. Back in 1888 the first show of the Portland Rose Society took place and Portland Rose Festival has been an annual tradition since the early 20th century. Not surprisingly, the place not to miss on a visit to Portland is rose related: the International Rose Test Garden. Read the rest of this entry

Streetcars of yore and of tomorrow

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New DC streetcar (image source: http://dc.gov)

As a European I have a special fondness for streetcars. Yes, they can be noisy and a bit slow but they get you where you need to go and all that Old World charm makes me love them! But they are not as easy to find on this side of the Atlantic. American cities used to have streetcars aplenty but due to a variety of factors – not the least of them being the determination of Big Oil and Big Auto to put everybody behind the wheel of a car – few survived various so-called urban redevelopment plans and suburban sprawl. For one, January 28, 1962 marked the end of the century of streetcars in Washington, DC (literally: the first line started operating in 1862). It makes this year a round 50th anniversary of a streetcar-less city. Read the rest of this entry