The St. Charles streetcar line in New Orleans is the oldest currently
running streetcar line in the world, having been in service since 1835.
The cars used on the line are original Perley A. Thomas cars from the
1920s. The cars used to have conductors, but have been one-man-
operated since the 1970s.
The St. Charles line begins in the heart of New Orleans, at Canal Street. It follows St. Charles Avenue "uptown" -- that is, upriver -- to Lee Circle. After a half-turn around the circle, it continues uptown on St. Charles Avenue, running in the median (known in New Orleans as the "neutral ground"). Much farther uptown, St. Charles Avenue ends at its intersection with Carrollton Avenue, and the streetcar line makes a right turn and follows Carrollton instead, again in the neutral ground, all the way to the corner of Carrollton and Claiborne avenues. At this intersection, there is a crossover and two stub tracks in which the cars can reverse.
The line follows the same route -- Carrollton Avenue, then St. Charles Avenue -- back downtown, until it reaches Lee Circle. It makes a three- quarters turn around Lee Circle, then follows Howard Avenue for one block, then turns onto Carondelet Street and follows that street toward Canal Street. On reaching Canal, the line goes out into Canal Street's very wide neutral ground (the equivalent of four lanes!) and travels one block "toward the river," then turns right again onto St. Charles Avenue, and we're back where we started.
Below are five photos from the far uptown end of the line at Carrollton and Claiborne, and two photos from Lee Circle. These photos were all taken in late December of 1998.
This photo shows two cars, nos. 914 and 968, on the stub tracks at the corner of Carrollton and Claiborne.
This photo of the same two cars shows a bit more of the surroundings, as well as an RTA transit bus.
A streetcar approaching the terminal at Carrollton and Claiborne.
Car 914 departing the terminal.
Car 914 having vacated one of the stub tracks, car 953 can now pull in.
As the uptown-bound car I was on entered Lee Circle, an automobile apparently had a close encounter of the wrong kind with the streetcar. The driver of the automobile pulled ahead of the streetcar (no. 914) and stopped on the track, blocking 914's way. Before long, another streetcar had pulled up behind 914. Uptown service is now completely blocked...
...and with the arrival of a third streetcar, the switch onto Howard Avenue is now blocked, so no streetcars can pass Lee Circle in either direction.