HOUSTON STREETCAR HISTORY PAGES
Here's one of the earliest known photos of an electric streetcar operating in Houston. Car 8 was built as one of the original 12 cars to inaugurate electric service in June of 1891. This view was made in January, 1892 as the car rounded the curve in front of the Capitol Hotel at Texas & Main. The Rice Hotel was later built at this corner.
Posed in front of Grand Central Depot (Southern Pacific lines) are brand new "California" car 153, trailer 33, and an 1896-built nine-bench open car. Such was public transit in Houston in 1902. Sic transit gloria mundi!
The Harrisburg line was opened to streetcar traffic in 1908, and this postcard view was made not long after. The car is a double-truck semiconvertible design, the mainstay of the fleet during this period.
A busy downtown scene in the late 1920's finds car 416 on the Mandell line, preparing to head outbound to the Montrose district. These cars, built in 1927, were the last series of streetcars ordered by the Houston Electric Co. (There were two later experimental cars, but that's another story.)
A 1930's view of one of Houston's single-truck Birney cars. Built in 1918, this was one of several cars that were modernized in the company shops, changing them from double-end to single-ended, and installing full length doors with inside steps.
The year is 1935, and car 411, a double-truck Birney built in 1924, pauses at the terminal of the South End line on Fannin Street. The new METRO light rail line passes just one block from this location.
A NOTE about the "color" photo on the home page. As far as we know, there are no color photos of Houston streetcars in existence! This view of car 424 passing the new Grand Central Station in 1939 has been hand colored by graphic designer Bryan Bechtold.
Photo credits: Photos of cars 8, 153 and 416 are from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library. Photo of car 411 by Robert V. Mehlenbeck, William Janssen collection. All others are from author's collection. All photos are property of respective copyright holders, and reproduction is prohibited.
Take a vintage postcard tour of the Galveston-Houston Interurban!
Click here to RETURN TO HOME PAGE