Believe it or not, streetcars used to be as common a mode of transportation as the automobile today. At its peak in the 1920’s, ridership grew to 14.8 billion nationwide. St. Louis was no exception.
Click here to view photos of the trolley cars coming home!
The original PCC (Presidents Conference Committee) cars were first produced in 1936. The St. Louis Car Company built many of these models, which were revolutionary for their time with classic Art Deco styling and the latest technology. St. Louis Public Service ordered three groups of PCC cars from the hometown builder. The final group of 100 cars were delivered in 1946 and numbered in the 1700 series. These cars provided transportation service in St. Louis on routes along Grand, Jefferson, Broadway, Delmar, Manchester, Olive and Forest Park.
Declining passengers allowed St. Louis Public Service to sell the 1700 series to the San Francisco Municipal railway in 1957. They renumbered these cars into the 1100 series numbers they wear today. The cars continued to provide service until 1982 when they were retired. The cars are 46 feet long and 9 feet wide. They seat 53 passengers and can handle many more standing.
The streetcars are home! Whittaker Builders Inc. has arranged for transport from the hillsides of Lake Tahoe in California to St. Charles, Missouri! We will restore these streetcars and use them throughout New Town, a new urbanism development. Possible uses include an old-fashioned diner, café, sushi bar or bookstore. We will incorporate an educational component with plaques and informational handouts, allowing residents and visitors alike to appreciate the local heritage.
Whittaker Homes has already traveled back in time in a sense with The New Town at St. Charles. What’s old is new again with a town market and neighborhood stores interspersed within a town that is home to a mix of residents with different demographics and lifestyles. Tree-lined streets accommodate walking and biking first; cars second. These street cars – with their local heritage – fit perfectly into the town.
The City of St. Charles and Whittaker Homes have formed a Trolley Committee and are having initial talks about the possibility of bringing a streetcar system to the City. We hope to eventually restore these street cars so they are fully functional!