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Great American Infrastructure: New Orleans, LA: St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line

Posted by Steve Anderson on Friday, February 17th, 2012

This is the fourteenth in a series of entries celebrating infrastructure achievements in the United States.

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What: The St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line is the longest of the New Orleans streetcar lines, and the oldest continuously operating street railway system in the world (service was briefly interrupted due to Hurricane Katrina).

Where: The  St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line is located in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The route traditionally forms a 13.2-mile crescent from Carondelet at Canal Street in the Central Business District through the oldest and most majestic section of uptown New Orleans, around the Riverbend to Carrollton at Claiborne Avenue.

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When: The New Orleans Streetcar System opened in 1835, and the St. Charles Avenue Line has been running electric since 1893.

Interesting facts: The line was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. To maintain this stature, the Regional Transit Authority, which operates the New Orleans Streetcar System, has rejected adding air conditioning and making the streetcars wheelchair accessible.  The streetcars also still have the mahogany seats, brass fittings and exposed ceiling light bulbs of their earlier days.

A one-way trip along the line takes about 45 minutes.

The line had to undergo serious repairs following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  The small section from Canal Street to Lee Circle was the first part restored, but the line was not repaired in its entirety until June 2008.

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2 Responses to “Great American Infrastructure: New Orleans, LA: St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line”

  1. John F says:

    The New Orleans streetcar system is being expanded in the next few years to increase connectivity and coverage, especially around the French Quarter. http://www.norta.com/_meta/files/Streetcar_expansion/funding_map.JPG

  2. Latisha J says:

    The NOLA street care transit is a beautiful way to view the city. I believe San Francisco is the only other city to have street cars registered with National Historic Landmarks and still manually operated. It will be interesting to see in the upcoming years how much of the proposed street car line is actually completed given forced city budget cut-backs.

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