LJWorld.com weblogs New Ideas, New Possibilities
100th anniversary of streetcar service in San Francisco - why not the first streetcars in Lawrence since 1933?
Streetcars would completely change Lawrence - and draw visitors from many states
It is time to start the fund so that streetcars can come back to Lawrence.
Today is the 100th anniversary of the streetcars in San Francisco. Everyone gets free rides all day.
It's tremendous, not only for the locals of San Francisco itself, but because of all the tourists it brings in year-round. Take a look at some of the pictures from the past:
And here is a video from local news about today's events:
There is a resurgence of street cars throughout the United States. Cities such as Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Minneapolis have already broken ground on their street cars plans.
But the real news is that Kansas City, MO has plans for street cars. The following Wall Street Journal article has more details:
This development, along with other developments in Kansas City - such as the first Google fiber in the United States - should give Lawrence much food for thought.
Streetcars in Lawrence again. Why not?
The Lawrence City Commission recently considered various projects which they would like to fund. To my mind, streetcars and internet funding come at the top of the list.
Lawrence has a strong history of street cars, dating back to April 19, 1910. There are two wonderful articles on the history of street cars in Lawrence. The first is by Douglas Harvey, Department of History, University of Kansas:
There is also an excellent article in Lawrence Community Connections, a project of Lawrence West Junior High School in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities, Watkins Community Museum of History, the Lawrence Journal-World and the University of Kansas.
Also, Sarah St. John has done some excellent research in this area. This is one of several outstanding articles from the past pages of the Journal-World:
By the way, are there more pictures of streetcars in Lawrence? Please post them here.
I will consider internet funding in a later post, but streetcar funding should take a high priority. Think what the revival of streetcars in Lawrence would make possible:
Streetcars would bring in visitors from many states
Streetcars would bring in visitors from many states, including Kansas. If the streetcar line went through downtown Lawrence, then up the hill and across the university, then out to 23rd street and then Iowa, I think even locals would take it all the time.
Streetcars would completely invigorate downtown, as well as other parts of town
Streetcars would completely invigorate downtown, as well as other parts of the city. Can you imagine hopping on a streetcar and touring downtown Lawrence. These streetcars could incorporate features of the past and those of the very present, including wifi for laptops.
All transportation systems should be linked together
The bus system should be closely tied to the streetcar route. People should be able to take a bus in, and then board a streetcar for a really fun ride - whether it be shopping, getting off at the university for classes and tours, or heading out to 23rd street. and Iowa.
Small libraries throughout Lawrence instead of one large library
If the library had considered small libraries throughout Lawrence - which the library board never did - then people could board a streetcar and busses to pay their bills, and relax in small libraries throughout the city, instead of one large library. This would be especially great for kids and seniors. There is a lot to do in Lawrence, and there would be more to do if small libraries were located throughout the city.
Link streetcars in Lawrence with streetcars and busses in Kansas City
Eventually, the Lawrence streetcar line could be linked with the Kansas City streetcars. In a future column, I will consider ways to link up the streetcars with the latest modern technology. This would greatly increase the possibility of businesses in Lawrence and innovation, which Lawrence so badly needs.
Eventually, a streetcar line to Baldwin City, perhaps even Ottawa
I would also eventually propose a line to Baldwin City, to link up with Baker University, and to allow Baldwin to develop a business park. It would also be great to go to Baldwin City for a whole day, including the civil war beginnings.
Baker University has some wonderful buildings. If you haven't been there, go visit the town!
Ottawa is also an old town with fine buildings on the Ottawa University campus. The long main street is wonderful. Here, in case you haven't been to Ottawa, is the Courthouse:
All of these are fine tourist destinations, which would be well served by eventual streetcar service from Lawrence.
And...all of these ideas make sense
But the first thing to do is to start the funding for streetcars in Lawrence. This will take time and money to implement, but I think they can be done and done superbly.
The fund and the planning needs to start now, instead of so many of the ideas which the City Commission has considered up to now, which make money for developers but which don't consider everyday people in Lawrence.
There will be more ideas in blogs in the future. That's what this blog is all about - "New Ideas, New Possibilities." I think, if the streetcar idea ever gets off the ground, people will love it.