When I first moved to Portland, I was fascinated, like many other newcomers, by all of the small pockets of commercial districts around town. It intrigueded me that I could walk for fifteen or twenty blocks, and find myself in a business district like Belmont, or Clinton, or NW Thurman. It wasn’t until I started researching the city’s history that I discovered that these were all due to Portland’s old network of streetcars. As it turns out, each of those neighborhood business areas were street car terminus’s at one point or another (the Belmont business district neart SE 34th Ave being the earliest one, with the first line opening in 1888). Portland’s original streetcars were the primary forms of public transportation from the the 1890’s up into the 1930’s, when they started being replaced by bus lines. The last streetcars (before the current one) ceased running in 1954.
After spending a large number of hours trying to research the streetcars, and fruitlessly looking for line maps, I came across this site one day, and realized that someone else had already done the research. In my fantasy of a Utopian Portland, all of these lines would someday be re-established.
Leave a comment