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Trams

The history of trams, streetcars or trolleys began in the early nineteenth century. The world's first horse-drawn passenger tramway started operating in 1807, it was the Swansea and Mumbles Railway, in Wales, UK. It was switching to steam in 1877, and then, in 1929, by very large (106-seats) electric tramcars, until closure in 1961.

Horse Cars

The first streetcar in America, developed by John Stephenson, began service in the year 1832 in New York. Harlem Railroad's Fourth Avenue Line ran along the Bowery and Fourth Avenue in New York City. These trams were a horse- or mule-powered, usually two as a team. It was followed in 1835 by New Orleans, Louisiana, which is the oldest continuously operating street railway system in the world, according to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Horsecars were largely replaced by electric-powered trams following the improvement of an overhead trolley system on trams for collecting electricity from overhead wires by Frank J. Sprague. Sprague spring-loaded trolley pole used a wheel to travel along the wire. In late 1887 and early 1888, using his trolley system, Sprague installed the first successful large electric street railway system in Richmond, Virginia. By 1889, 110 electric railways incorporating Sprague's equipment had been begun or planned on several continents.

Steam Cars

Trams were also powered by steam. The most common type had a small steam locomotive (called a tram engine in the UK) at the head of a line of one or more carriages, similar to a small train. Systems with such steam trams included Christchurch, New Zealand; Adelaide, South Australia; Sydney, Australia and other city systems in New South Wales; Munich, Germany (from August 1883 on), British India (Pakistan) (from 1885) and the Dublin & Blessington Steam Tramway (from 1888) in Ireland. Steam tramways also were used on the suburban tramway lines around Milan and Padua; the last Gamba de Legn ("Peg-Leg") tramway ran on the Milan-Magenta-Castano Primo route in late 1958.

The other style of steam tram had the steam engine in the body of the tram, referred to as a tram engine (UK) or steam dummy (US). The most notable system to adopt such trams was in Paris. French-designed steam trams also operated in Rockhampton, in the Australian state of Queensland between 1909 and 1939. Stockholm, Sweden, had a steam tram line at the island of Södermalm between 1887 and 1901. Steam tram engines faded out around 1890s to 1900s, being replaced by electric trams.

Cable Cars

Another system for trams was the cable car, which was pulled along a fixed track by a moving steel cable. The power to move the cable was normally provided at a "powerhouse" site a distance away from the actual vehicle. The London and Blackwall Railway, which opened for passengers in east London, England, in 1840 used such a system.

The first practical cable car line was tested in San Francisco, in 1873. Part of its success is attributed to the development of an effective and reliable cable grip mechanism, to grab and release the moving cable without damage. The second city to operate cable trams was Dunedin in New Zealand, from 1881 to 1957.

The San Francisco cable cars, though significantly reduced in number, continue to perform a regular transportation function, in addition to being a well-known tourist attraction. A single cable line also survives in Wellington, New Zealand (rebuilt in 1979 as a funicular but still called the "Wellington Cable Car"). Another system, actually two separate cable lines with a shared power station in the middle, operates from the Welsh town of Llandudno up to the top of the Great Orme hill in North Wales, UK.
Hong Kong Transport
1856
1856
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2019
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2019
835 Media in collectionpage 3 of 9
Motor Car "L" Road

Motor Car "L" Road

Photograph shows a subway car on an elevated line during the strike of the New York Railway company in Sept. 1916. Iron screens were used on the windows to protect the motormen. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2014)

Pay-as-you-enter car, N.Y.

Pay-as-you-enter car, N.Y.

Photograph shows man stepping up onto streetcar with suitcase; sign in window of streetcar reads, "Please have the exact fare ready".

Strike breakers -- broken trolley

Strike breakers -- broken trolley

Photograph probably taken during the streetcar strike in New York City which took place in July and August of 1916. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2014)

Trolley Turning onto Bunker Hill Street from Chelsea Street

Trolley Turning onto Bunker Hill Street from Chelsea Street

This photograph is a view of a trolley at the intersection of Chelsea Street and Bunker Hill Street. Theodore Crawford v. Boston Elevated Railway Company

Street View of Chelsea Street Heading South

Street View of Chelsea Street Heading South

This photograph is a view of the intersection of Chelsea Street and Bunker Hill Street, facing south. Theodore Crawford v. Boston Elevated Railway Company

American Red Cross - War Work - Red Cross Trolley to transport wounded from transport to Boston Hospitals

American Red Cross - War Work - Red Cross Trolley to transport wounded...

Photographer: American Red Cross, France American Red Cross - War Work

Snow blocked trolly [i.e., trolley] cars

Snow blocked trolly [i.e., trolley] cars

Possibly taken in New York City.

Tram stop in Vienna 1921

Tram stop in Vienna 1921

Spårvägshållplats i Wien 1921..Date: 1921.Photo Nr: 2157-43.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Bus in Copenhagen 1922

Bus in Copenhagen 1922

Buss i Köpenhamn 1922..Photograph by: unknown..Date: 1922.Photo Nr: 2157-1.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Tram in Arnhem 1922

Tram in Arnhem 1922

Spårvagn i Arnhem oktober 1922..Date: 1922.Photo Nr: 2157-17.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Tram in Arnhem 1921

Tram in Arnhem 1921

Spårvagn i Arnhem oktober 1922..Date: 1922.Photo Nr: 2157-18.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Bus in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1922

Bus in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1922

Buss i Köpenhamn 1922.Photograph by: unknown..Date: 1922.Photo Nr: 2157-2.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Tram stop in Brussels october 1922

Tram stop in Brussels october 1922

Spårvägshållplats i Bryssel oktober 1922..tag:..Date: 1922.Photo Nr: 2157-28.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Tram stop in Brussels october 1922

Tram stop in Brussels october 1922

Spårvägshållplats i Bryssel oktober 1922..Date: 1922.Photo Nr: 2157-23.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

"The motorman"

"The motorman"

Man in street car - employee no. 606 in Car No. 1050, in or near Louisville, Kentucky.

Street traffic in Paris in 1927

Street traffic in Paris in 1927

Spårvagn i Paris..Date: 1927.Photo Nr: 2076-F15A.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Trams on Angel street in Sheffield

Trams on Angel street in Sheffield

Spårvagnar i Sheffield..tag:..Date: 1927.Photo Nr: 2076-F29B.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Street traffic in Paris in 1927

Street traffic in Paris in 1927

Spårvagn i Paris..Date: 1927.Photo Nr: 2076-F17A.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Trolley Car from Car Accident, Front View

Trolley Car from Car Accident, Front View

Original caption: Div. 4 car #5900. Car and auto collision. Sept. 12 1927 1:45 a.m. Chelsea and Bunker Hill Streets. Photo at Salem Street. C.H. Medford. Sept. 12, 1927 11:15 a.m. Theodore Crawford v. Boston El... more

Trolley Car from Car Accident

Trolley Car from Car Accident

This photograph is a view of the left front side of the damaged trolley car. Theodore Crawford v. Boston Elevated Railway Company

Willis Street, Wellington, [ca 1930]

Willis Street, Wellington, [ca 1930]

Willis Street, Wellington, [ca 1930].Reference Number: 1/2-020450-F.Original negative. .Find out more about this image ( http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22368441 ) from the Alexander Turnbull Library. ( http://n... more

Manners Street, Wellington, [ca 1930]

Manners Street, Wellington, [ca 1930]

Manners Street, Wellington, [ca 1930].Reference Number: 1/2-048949-G.Photographer: Sydney Charles Smith .Original negative..Find out more about this image ( http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23249089 ) from the Al... more

Traffic on Untermain-Brücke in Frankfurt am Main in Germany

Traffic on Untermain-Brücke in Frankfurt am Main in Germany

Trafikbild från Frankfurt am Main, Untermain-Brücke..Photograph by: unknown..Photo Nr: 1-81.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Tram on Karlsplatz (Stachus) in Munich, Germany

Tram on Karlsplatz (Stachus) in Munich, Germany

Spårvagn i München, Tyskland..Photograph by: fotograf..Photo Nr: 10-101.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Tram in Birmingham

Tram in Birmingham

Dubbeldäckad spårvagn i Birmingham..Photo Nr: 2076-F80B.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Subway station in Stockholm in 1933

Subway station in Stockholm in 1933

Slussens tunnelbanestation med Örbytåg i slingan...Photograph by: Wallberg, Karl..Date: 1933.Photo Nr: 22-319.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Ferry, West 23rd Street, Manhattan.

Ferry, West 23rd Street, Manhattan.

Digital ID: 482554. Abbott, Berenice -- Photographer. December 23, 1935. .Notes: Lackawanna and Hoboken ferries, with clock tower above, C.R.R. of N.J. ferry, left, 14th St. trolley and cars and wagons. Code:... more

23rd Street Surface Car, West 23rd Street, Manhattan.

23rd Street Surface Car, West 23rd Street, Manhattan.

Digital ID: 482557. Abbott, Berenice -- Photographer. March 26, 1936. .Notes: Code: II.A.3. Woman boards 23rd St. trolley outside Erie Railroad Ferry terminal, West 23rd St., trucks, lamppost visible.. .So... more

Sydney "toastrack" tram no. 1511, Moore Park, June 1938 / Sam hood

Sydney "toastrack" tram no. 1511, Moore Park, June 1938 / Sam hood

Note; Sydney once had one of the largest light rail networks in the world. The last tram ran in 1961. The tram is on its way "into town" to terminate at Circular Quay, passing a large house on Anzac Parade...Fo... more

19th Century Tram float: “Australia's March to Nationhood” Australian 150th Anniversary Celebration

19th Century Tram float: “Australia's March to Nationhood” Australian ...

Image 21806138 - A 19th Century Tram float, which formed part of the "Australia's March to Nationhood" parade on January 26th, 1938. This image was taken in Driver Avenue, Moore Park...This image is part of a c... more

Spectators of the Australian Sesquicentenary parade stand on trams for a better view, George Street, Sydney, 26 January 1938 / photographer Donald Charles Boulton Maclurcan

Spectators of the Australian Sesquicentenary parade stand on trams for...

Format: Photograph..Find more detailed information about this photographic collection: acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemDetailPaged.aspx?itemID=950189 ( http://acms.sl.nsw.gov.au/item/itemDetailPaged.aspx?itemID=950... more

Wynyard-bound tram on Harbour Bridge (now twin roadways to Cahill Expressway), 1930-1939 / by Ted Hood

Wynyard-bound tram on Harbour Bridge (now twin roadways to Cahill Expr...

Call no.: Home and Away - 2729..Format: glass negative..Find more detailed information about this photograph: www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?i... ( http://www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/s... more

Tram at Wittenbergplatz in Berlin

Tram at Wittenbergplatz in Berlin

Spårvagn på Wittenbergplatz i Berlin..Photo Nr: 1-3583.To the museum database (text in swedish) ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se/databas/sparvagn-pa-wittenbergplatz-i-8228998 )

K. Davis - Tramwoman at work [and other tram photographs], 1933-1942

K. Davis - Tramwoman at work [and other tram photographs], 1933-1942

Find more detailed information about this photographic collection: www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?i... ( http://www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?itemID=1122678 )

K. Davis - Tramwoman at work [and other tram photographs], 1933-1942

K. Davis - Tramwoman at work [and other tram photographs], 1933-1942

Find more detailed information about this photographic collection: www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?i... ( http://www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?itemID=1122678 )

K. Davis - Tramwoman at work [and other tram photographs], 1933-1942

K. Davis - Tramwoman at work [and other tram photographs], 1933-1942

Find more detailed information about this photographic collection: www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?i... ( http://www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?itemID=1122678 )

K. Davis - Tramwoman at work [and other tram photographs], 1933-1942

K. Davis - Tramwoman at work [and other tram photographs], 1933-1942

Find more detailed information about this photographic collection: www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?i... ( http://www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?itemID=1122678 ) ... more

Tram in Malmö 1944

Tram in Malmö 1944

Spårvagn i Malmö 1944..Photograph by: Gallén, Börje..Date: 1944.Photo Nr: 2016-1575.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )

Hotellplatsen in Gothenburg 1946

Hotellplatsen in Gothenburg 1946

Göteborg 1946..Reportageresa till Göteborg för Spårvägsmännens Tidning 1-3 oktober 1946..Date: 1946.Photo Nr: 2219-3688.To the museum database (text in swedish) ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se/databas/goteborg-19... more

Trafiic at Gustav Adolfs torg in Stockholm 1947

Trafiic at Gustav Adolfs torg in Stockholm 1947

Trafik på Gustav Adolfs Torg..Photograph by: unknown..Date: 1946.Photo Nr: 2017-A112.sparvagsmuseet.sl.se ( http://sparvagsmuseet.sl.se )