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CHS Re:Take | First Hill Streetcar Celebration Edition

CHS historian Robert Ketcherside pledged to bring us regular editions of Re:Takes featuring the rich transit history of the neighborhood until the First Hill Streetcar began service. Robert, you may now rest.

Below, we’ve assembled Ketcherside’s recent editions as well as a few streetcar-focused stories from the Re:Take archives. Happy streetcar!

  • Blood, snow, and Madison streetcarsRecently, we were surprised again with snowflakes, one or two at a time trying their hardest to stick on the wet pavement. Every so often, though, Seattle gets a good snow. Look at those mounds in this old photo, which came undated from the State Archives. It must have been 1916. I’ve been dating these photos “circa 1913″ that I copied a few years ago. But there was only one snow event from that period that resembled this, two feet over a 24-hour period at the start of February. More…
  • When will the 27,500-day streetcar service delay end?Well, is that man above in 1913 worried about driving his horses into the back of the number 49 bus? No, he is staring back at you, right through a rip in the fabric of space-time, right into your soul, and the horses have ceased to exist to him. And so it is with me. I will blindly whip this wagon right into the back of a pastel, cherry-blossom adorned streetcar in the public interest of a shared understanding of our streetcar past. More…
  • Electric cars to Capitol Hill, 1901: We’re looking at a legit Capitol Hill streetcar: the destination placard actually says Capitol Hill on it. This line to James Moore’s new neighborhood opened on November 17, 1901. There was service on Broadway a decade earlier, but Capitol Hill didn’t exist yet and it was one of many independently operated routes in the city. In 1899 and 1900 Seattle Electric Company took control of almost every line, and the Capitol Hill line became one of their first newly constructed streetcars. More…
  • Waiting for the First Hill Streetcar? Take a trip on Broadway, Pike/Pine lines past: Our first streetcar photo was taken on Broadway south of Pike, standing in the road in front of Harvard Market QFC. More than just the two visible streetcar lines ran through here were when it was taken in 1913. But let’s stick with them. More…
  • The very first Broadway streetcar: If you’re well schooled on Capitol Hill history, you know these origin stories: David Denny began selling and leasing John Nagle‘s property along Broadway in 1880, and James Moore developed the Capitol Hill area near Volunteer Park after 1900. We’re going to talk about the period in between, a piece of early streetcar history that has not been chronicled. More…
  • Love letters shaped our city (Summit Line part 1)
  • Home is where the park is (Summit Line part 2)
  • Forgotten plans for our Hill (Summit Line Part 3)
  • Cashing in on the Summit real estate boom (Summit Line Part 4)
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5 years ago

So I decided to ride it today, and here’s my impressions (keeping in mind that it’s JUST LAUNCHED so of course there’s some kinks to work out):

1. The cars lurch into and out of motion pretty quickly, which is problematic when nearly everyone on board is standing. There were also a lot of kids on board (whose parents were clearly more excited than they were) who kept on getting underfoot and these lurches meant there was a lot of near-disaster with tripping on them. Obviously once the novelty wears off, the crowds will subside somewhat, but I hope they manage to do smoother starting and stopping all the same.

2. The interior signage (showing the next few upcoming stops) is nice although it could be a lot more effective with its use of space. It’d be really nice if each stop indicator also showed which side the doors would be opening on (hopefully with an arrow pointing in the right direction).

3. It seemed like the voice announcement only stated the door side if it was different than the previous stop. That’s suboptimal – the way the SLU streetcar announces the door side for every stop is pretty nice since not everyone is paying attention to every stop.

4. The arrival times on the shelter signage were a complete fiction. Hopefully that gets addressed at about the same time that the data also shows up on One Bus Away.

5. Going uphill, the poor train’s motor sounded like it was really straining. Better the motor than my legs, though.

5 years ago

P square to Bway- overheard ‘Seattle U is where Mommy got her MBA.’ Seriously, Daddy, do you think your three year old grasps that concept? Great for you to take her on public transit, that’s wunderbar. But what is an MBA to a 3 year old?