This form of transportation was called a horse car, streetcar, or trolley. These horse-drawn trolleys ran on metal tracks embedded in the ground. Tracks were installed in New York City in 1832 to allow horse cars to move over the very rough city streets. These vehicles could carry many people, and they offered a smooth ride. When a passanger needed to get off, the conductor, who rode at the back, would ring a bell to signal the driver to stop.
Streets were very crowded with these types of vehicles, and they were not efficient: horses became tired, slowed down, and left manure throughout the city streets. During 1872, New York City experienced an epidemic of horse flu, which killed many of the horses that pulled the streetcars. As a result, the city realized it needed to diversify its types of transportation. These same metal tracks were later used for steam-powered cable cars, steam locomotives, and electric trains. These types of vehicles remained popular until the automobile became widely used.
Because of all the tracks embedded in the city roads, the original name of the Brooklyn Dodgers was the Trolley Dodgers, because fans had to cross trolley tracks to get to the baseball field.
How does the availability of transportation affect the economic and cultual aspects of a society?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and evaluate the impact of this technology on the local community.