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Streetcars : Overview

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Twin Cities by Trolleyby John W. Diers.
MNHS call number: TF275 .M6 D54 2007

The Electric Railways of Minnesota, by Russell L. Olson.
MNHS call number: Reading Room HE4487.M6 O48, 1990 supplement: Reading Room HE4487.M6 O48 Suppl.

Twin City Rapid Transit Company Corporate Records.
Records of the company that operated the streetcar and local bus system in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area from 1891 until 1970.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Twin City Rapid Transit Company Photograph Collection.
Views of streetcars and work equipment operated by the company, most dated from 1915-1940. 
MNHS call number:  I.196 Visual Collections


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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Gale Family Library and MNHS Reference Staff

Gale Family Library 
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