Special Features

Image Libraries

Blog
Philadelphia’s streetcar infrastructure: Old but interesting

Philadelphia’s streetcar network is the largest and busiest in the mid-Atlantic. It has several interesting features, some of which can help inform the planning for DC’s growing system.


Philadelphia’s Girard Avenue trolley, with island platform.

Philadelphia calls its system trolleys instead of streetcars, because it’s vintage from the original trolley era. While Philadelphia did discontinue many of its original trolley routes, unlike DC they also kept many.

The Girard Avenue trolley line even uses vintage trolley vehicles, originally built in 1947. It also runs in a unique on-street arrangement, with tracks down the center of wide Girard Avenue, and stations in narrow floating medians.


The Girard Avenue trolley’s floating platforms.

The Girard Avenue arrangement is totally different than DC’s H Street layout, which uses a mixture of curbside and full median tracks.

Philadelphia’s center-running tracks result in fewer conflicts with parked or turning cars, which speeds the trolleys down their route. It’s almost-but-not-quite like a dedicated transitway.

Unfortunately, the platforms are too narrow to meet modern disability-accessible design guidelines. If DC were to use a similar arrangement, we’d need wider platforms and thus more street width.


Narrow platform on the Girard Avenue trolley line.

On narrower streets in West Philadelphia, trolleys still run in the center, with bike lanes between the tracks and a row of parked cars.


West Philadelphia trolley line.

The trolley subway

Five trolley routes that run on-street in West Philadelphia combine and then move into a dedicated trolley subway to speed through Center City. It’s a great way to maximize the efficiency of the system through its most dense and congested section, while still taking advantage of the flexibility of on-street operations further out.


13th Street trolley subway station.

DC once had a short trolley subway too, under Dupont Circle. Today, DC’s reborn streetcar plan doesn’t call for any. They’re hugely expensive, after all. But with the specter of Metrorail capacity constraints looming, and new DC subway lines under consideration, perhaps someday a streetcar subway could again be appropriate in DC.

What else is there?

I’ve never personally lived in Philadelphia, so my experience with its trolley network is fairly limited. I’m sure there are other interesting features. What did I miss?

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

December 17th, 2013 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: galleries, streetcar, transportation, Uncategorized



Urban big boxes are becoming common

A few years ago the idea of a pedestrian friendly big box store was almost unthinkable, but the idea is catching on, with several examples locally and around the country.

Locally the Columbia Heights Target is an obvious example, but not the only one. We also have the Tenleytown Best Buy, and of course, the proposed downtown Wal-Mart. In the suburbs, Gaithersburg’s new urbanist “Washingtonian Center” was an urban big box trail-blazer. Designed and built in the late 1990s, it features what may have been the country’s first pedestrian oriented Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Kohl’s.

Below there are pictures of several other examples from around the country, including a Home Depot in Chicago that puts DC’s to shame.



Home Depot, Halsted Street, Chicago. Photo by dmitrybarsky.

Home Depot, Halsted Street, Chicago. Photo by Payton Chung.

Target, Nicollet Street, Minneapolis. Photo by DesertDevil.

Target, Broadway, Chicago. Photo by Chicago Tribune.

Best Buy, Lockwood Place, Baltimore. Photo by Joe Architect.

Best Buy, Clark Street, Chicago. Photo by VivaLFuego.

Proposed Target, East Liberty, Pittsburgh. Photo by City of Pittsburgh.

Proposed Target, 4th and Mission Streets, San Francisco. Photo by SF Redevelopment Agency.

 Cross-posted at Greater Greater Washington.
 
 
 

June 9th, 2011 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: Uncategorized



Two transit tidbits

click to enlarge
The Tysons Corner subway under construction.
Photo by Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. Click to enlarge.

Two tantalizing transit tidbits. Hooray for alliteration. Anyway:

  1. Last week ANC 3B of Glover Park discussed the prospect of a streetcar on Wisconsin Avenue. The ANC is considering (or considered?) a resolution asking DDOT to include a Wisconsin Avenue route in its extensive planned streetcar network. A Facebook group called Wisconsin Avenue Streetcar Coalition has since sprung into existence.

  2. The latest email version of the Dulles Metrorail project construction update newsletter included the photo at right showing the actual (!) subway tunnel under construction below Route 123 where it meets International Drive. Although most of the line through Tysons Corner will be elevated, there will be a short subway segment between the Tysons Central 123 station and the Tysons Central 7 station. Strangely, as of this writing the online version of said newsletter doesn’t include the photo.

January 22nd, 2010 | Permalink | {num}Comments
Tags: Uncategorized



Media

   
   



Site
About BeyondDC
Archive 2003-06
Contact

Search:

GoogleBeyondDC
Category Tags:

Partners
 
  Greater Greater Washington
 
  Washington Post All Opinions Are Local Blog
 
  Denver Urbanism
 
  Streetsblog Network



BeyondDC v. 2013d | Email | Archive of posts from 2003-2006