HOUSTON STREETCAR HISTORY PAGES


IMPORTANT DATES

1868:  First mule-drawn streetcars operate in Houston, but these are short lived, and for several years there is no more service.

May 2, 1874:  Houston City Street Railway begins mule-powered operations on Travis Street, truly beginning the streetcar era in Houston.  From this company can be traced a direct line of continuity to the present-day METRO system.

1889:  A competing company, the Bayou City Street Railway (actually the second company of this name in Houston) begins operations.  It is later absorbed by the Houston City Street Railway.

June 12, 1891:  First operation of electric streetcars in Houston.

1892:  Houston Heights line opens.  For several years this is operated as a separate company.

1896:  Following a court-ordered receivership, the Houston City Street Railway is sold and reorganized as the Houston Electric Street Railway,

1901:  After another receivership, the street railway is sold to investors associated with the Stone & Webster firm of Boston, Mass.  It is reorganized as the Houston Electric Co.

1904:  In one of the most significant labor actions in Houston history, a streetcar employees' strike cripples the transit system for more than four months.

1908:  Harrisburg streetcar route opens.

1910:  Bellaire route opens.

December 5, 1911:  Interurban route to Galveston opened.   The Galveston-Houston Electric Railway is a separate company from HECo., but under the same ownership.

1914:  Jitneys (private cars for hire on fixed routes) begin operations in Houston, causing headaches for the streetcar system for the next decade.

1918:  First operation of Birney one-man streetcars in Houston.

April 1, 1924:  First Houston bus route, on Austin Street, begins operations in the wake of a city referendum outlawing jitneys.

June 19, 1927:  First run of Houston North Shore interurban to Goose Creek.  This company had no affiliation with HECo., but did purchase trackage rights over Lyons Avenue in order to reach downtown Houston.  Operation to downtown ended in 1931.  Interurban abandoned all electric operation in 1948..

1927:  Last new streetcars (cars 416-435, St. Louis Car Co.) purchased by Houston Electric Co.  This was the peak year for the HECo. streetcar system, with two dozen routes in service covering some 90 miles of track

October 31, 1936:  Last run of the Galveston-Houston interurban.   The section to Park Place continues under HECo. operation until 1940.

June 9, 1940:  Last run of Houston Electric Co. streetcars.   The final two routes to succumb are Pierce and Park Place.


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This page last updated 11/04/03