Saturday, June 09, 2018

The Rise & Fall of the Electric Tramway


The tramway network in the Austrian city of Graz has been operation since 1878. The network reached its peak around the middle of the 20th century. However rising car ownership resulted in less passengers on the tramway network and during the 1950's many tram routes in the city were closed down. Since the 1990's however the tramway network has seen a bit of a resurgence and new lines and stops have slowly been added.

You can explore the rise and fall (and resurgence) of Graz's tramway network on the Zeitlinie Graz animated map. This map allows you to watch the growth of the tramway network over time. Press the play button on the map and you can see routes being added and removed from the map by date. You can select an individual line from the map sidebar. This will highlight the route on the map and allow you to observe the history of that individual route from 1878-2018.


Zeitlinie Graz is the second animated map visualizing public transit systems in Austrian cities. You can also view the growth of Vienna's public transit system over time on Zeitlinie Vienna, a timeline driven map which shows when Vienna's many tram, train and U-Bahn lines were first opened.

The first tram line in Vienna was constructed in 1865. This horse driven tram-line ran between Schottentor and Hernals. Vienna's U-Bahn subway system didn't appear until over one hundred years later. You can use the play button at the bottom of Zeitlinie Vienna to watch an animated history of the growth of Vienna's transit system. Alternatively you can use the timeline slide control to explore the extent of the transit system in Vienna for any year from 1865 to 2016.


For some reason I've always imagined that there were a lot more streetcar lines in San Francisco. The good news is that there are actually more routes in the city now than in 1960. However the present coverage is not a patch on the number of streetcar routes that existed in the city back in 1940.

Where the Streetcars Used to Go is a lovely interactive map which allows you to view the streetcar transit network as it existed in 1940 & 1960 and as it exists today. Streetcar fans will be delighted to learn that the map also allows you to view vintage photos of streetcars in San Francisco.

You can actually browse through these wonderful photos of San Francisco's historical streetcars by the different streetcar routes. If you click on a streetcar route on the map the photos, running along the bottom of the map, are filtered to only show photos taken along the chosen line. The name of the selected route is also displayed on the map alongside the dates when the route was operational.


With only a few polylines on a custom designed basemap the BC Electric Railway Map has produced a beautiful looking visualization of Vancouver's BC Electric Railway Company transit network, as it looked in the early twentieth century. The BC Electric Railway Map map plots the historical interurban and streetcar lines of the network between 1890 to 1958. It also contains a few photos and Street Views of modern day Vancouver showing how some of the company's historical buildings and lines look today.


The emergence of the motorcar as a popular means of transport in the early Twentieth Century led not only to the longtime decline of the railroads but also had a detrimental effect on the tram systems in many American cities.

You can explore how Denver's streetcar network developed in the Nineteenth Century and also observe its later decline on Denver's Streetcar Legacy and its Role in Neighborhood Walkability. A timeline control allows you to view how the city's streetcar network grew in the city from its inception in 1872 through to its end in 1950. As the timeline plays out you can see when the all the different lines were opened and closed.

Despite its demise Denver's streetcar network has had a lasting impact on the city's environment and the walkability of its neighborhoods. This interactive map also explores how the streetcar network effected the city's design and what the author calls 'Pedestrian Oriented Commercial Buildings'.
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