New York-based artist Jake Berman created and shared this unique map of streetcar routes in DC. But this isn’t a map of the modern, sleek streetcars we have today. Nor is it a map from the 20th century showing electric streetcar routes, such as the map Berman made that detailed streetcars and proposed subways from 1944.
Rather, this map shows the routes of five companies that operated horse drawn streetcars along the more busy corridors of antebellum Washington, DC in the mid-1800s. Horse-drawn streetcars first appeared in DC in 1862 and dominated public transportation until electric cars began to take over in the 1880s.
“I’ve drawn on primary period sources to draw the city’s streetcar system back during the last days of Rutherford B. Hayes’s administration. (This is before the electric streetcar was invented, so all of these trains were being pulled by horses or mules.),” Berman says.
Streetcars have helped Washingtonians get around for over 150 years across three centuries—a valuable reminder as we seek to expand our fledgling modern streetcar system.