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Streetcars

Subjects: Transportation

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Parade on Hennepin Avenue at Fifth Street, Minneapolis, 1906

When Minnesota's first electric streetcars were introduced in 1888, hundreds of people lined up to try them. The electric streetcars delivered both passengers and mail quickly and efficiently. The streetcars were a symbol of the boom that the Twin Cities were experiencing at the end of the 19th century. Wherever new tracks were built, new land was developed, and the cities expanded. The remarkable success of the electric streetcar in urban service led to its use in rural and inter-city operation. The term "inter-urban" was first used in 1890 to designate the intercity streetcar line between Minneapolis and St. Paul, and came to be used nationwide to denote inter-city operations in general. Streetcars were an elegant and non-polluting form of public transportation that brought the upper and lower classes of Minnesota together for almost seventy years, until they were finally displaced by the rise of the automobile in the 1950s. 

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Minnesota Historical Society Library • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300