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Cadenza 09-10-2006 11:29 AM

Historic streetcars
I am so happy to read that there are plans for a little bit of the once oldest continously operating streetcar line in the world to be running by the end of this year. It is only the nine blocks between Canal St. and Lee Circle. This was always my least favorite part of the trip from Uptown to the Quarter. I loved passing the old historic homes and businesses along St. Charles. The rest of the line isn't expected to be ready before the end of 2007. :(

Until reading the article in today's Shreveport Times, I didn't realize that all but one of the new "red ladies" cars had been destroyed. They were flooded out in their storage barn. It is a relief that the truly historic green cars are at least safe though not in service. The red cars, air-conditioned and run by computer, never had the same ambience as the old line. They were more simply a way to get from one shopping area to another along the river.

New Orleans will not feel at all "normal" to me until I can hear the rumble of the old cars down St. Charles.

rhertz 09-10-2006 01:16 PM

History should be preserved and therefore any irreplaceable antique should probably be retired from service at some point, in order to help preserve it for generations to come. However history should also be remembered, so I think that recreating authentic replicas is a good thing when used to maintain an ongoing service. Every detail should be kept "alive" by using the exactly same design and materials for all parts. Adding a computer for safety or security might be one of the few justified changes, but not changing the original design with "creature comforts". "Ambience" is important as you say. Hopefully officials userstand this and will strive to rebuild New Orleans and not try to reinvent New Orleans, well, with the exception of the levee system.

Bob 09-10-2006 03:39 PM

I'm constantly surprised by the number of people I run into.. who have this NEGATIVE vibe when they talk about New Orleans.. I'm talking about anyone who's made a post yet in this thread.. but others who I run into.. They will say things like New Orleans had it coming.. what did they expect.. etc etc..
When it comes down to what's important.. I can't help but feel that getting New Orleans back on its' feet anyway possible is just a good thing.. and I really hope it happens. Regarding the street cars.. I've heard my mother tell many a story, she grew up in New Orleans, she was riding those street cars to movies and the like as a teenager during WWII era.
I've rode on a few myself. and it's just a part of the New Orleans feeling.

rhertz 09-10-2006 10:37 PM

When I grew up in Shreveport, we had "trolleys" that were electric powered from overhead guy wires. I can still remember watching the parallel wires overhead while crouching down on the floor board close to the heater outlet during cold wet winters.

Cadenza 09-11-2006 12:52 AM

Those "trolleys" you refer to had not changed a whit until Katrina. The red ones were on a new line. The old ones still ran along St. Charles to the Quarter and back past RiverBend on Carrollton. But I have never heard any New Orleanian call them a "trolley". Trolleys in my understanding are like the cars in San Francisco, not powered by electricity overhead like the ones in NO. Only the tourists call them trolleys. :D

I hope they are NEVER retired and replaced with new ones, even if they are built to look the same. They wouldn't BE the same.

rhertz 09-11-2006 09:39 PM

Cadenza, I had not until now realized that the "trolleys" in Shreveport in the late 50's were the same as the "streetcars" of New Orleans. Thanks for pointing that out. Here in Shreveport, I guess it was around the mid 60's when the diesel city buses displaced the trolleys although the guy wires remained overhead for years as I recall. I had all but forgotten about them until your thread brought back old childhood memories.

LOL, I am not surprised that we "yankees" up here in Shreveport would call streetcars something different than our southern neighbors. It won’t be the first time this has happened. ;-) I am also fascinated by the various regional pronunciations. Down south they seem to say Lou-ze-anna while up here we sometimes say Lou-wez-ze-anna. Or for New Orleans itself, I hear New-wall-ins, Naw-lins, New Ore-lee-anns, New Ore-leens, and New Ore-lens. I doubt any other city has so much “dialect”. :)

Re: I hope they are NEVER retired and replaced with new ones, even if they are built to look the same. They wouldn't BE the same.

I respect what you are saying. My point was overly generalized in that keeping something in service for a long time places some wear and tear on the vehicle, and while under continuous maintenance, at some point every part on the vehicle would have undergone replacement due to excessive wear. (in theory) Over time it becomes a new vehicle anyway to some degree, and I hope they save the original parts for historical preservation. If any original parts are ever retired for historical preservation (display in a museum) for whatever reason, then I think they should replicate them EXACTLY in order to keep the vehicle going rather than retire the service which would be sad.

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