Oct. 24, 2012
Public transit marks a milestone with transit history display at Central Library
It started with a mule – actually two – pulling a horse car loaded with passengers down newly laid iron tracks on Washington Street in Phoenix. On November 5, 1887 that fledgling public transit system, then known as the Phoenix Street Railway, would be the beginning of 125 years of service to Phoenix residents.
The Phoenix Public Transit Department will mark those decades with a history display “From Mule to Fuel (and electricity): 125 years of horse cars, streetcars, buses, and light rail” at Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Avenue, from Nov. 5 -30, 2012. On display will be photographs, including the first transit trip, memorabilia, and historical information.
Animal-powered horse-cars would give way to electrified streetcars, which would reign for almost 50 years. But with paved roads came gasoline-powered buses that could drive anywhere, and so in 1927 began the ascent of the rubber-tired vehicle and the decline of the one that rode on rails. By 1948, the streetcars were gone and Phoenix would be a bus-only transit system. It wasn’t until 2008 when bus and rail would be reunited.
In addition to the display items, a number of old documents will be posted on-line at phoenix.gov/publictransit starting Nov. 5, 2012. These include a series of 1928 telegrams searching for lost streetcar parts that fell off the freight train during shipping; those-were-the-days interview transcripts with 1950s bus operators; and correspondence from World War II when getting workers to the factories via public transit was critical in times of gasoline and tire rationing.
Visitors to the library can also enter a drawing to win a prize packet of an authentic 1930 Phoenix Street Railway transit token and a 2012 Centennial Commemorative Transit Pass stamped on February 14, 2012. Children can color a picture of Tico, a beloved transit mascot of the 1970s and ‘80s remembered by many long-time Phoenicians.
The display is open during library hours; and Central Library is accessible by city bus on Valley Metro routes 0-Central Avenue and 17-McDowell Road; as well by light rail at the Central Ave/McDowell station.
For Phoenix Public Library information, call 602-262-4636; for transit information, call Valley Metro customer service at 602-253-5000.
|Marie Chapple Camacho