< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >
Streetcars first enter service in Seattle on September 23, 1884.
HistoryLink.org Essay 2688
: Printer-Friendly Format
On September 23, 1884, Seattle entrepreneur Frank Osgood (1852-1934) inaugurates service on the city's first streetcar line. For a nickel, passengers can ride Seattle Street Railway cars drawn by a team of horses on tracks down the center of 2nd Avenue. This is the region's first mass transit system.
Seattle roads at this time were notoriously muddy and treacherous for horses, wagons, and pedestrians alike. The city granted the first streetcar franchise to Irving Ballard in 1879, but he never built the proposed 1st Avenue line.
Downtown retailers feared that streetcars would frighten normal horse traffic, which forced Osgood to select 2nd Avenue for his route. Construction was financed by leading citizens such as Arthur Denny (1822-1899), Thomas Burke (1849-1925), and George Kinnear, and the line proved an instant success. Three years later, Osgood retired his "hayburners" in favor of electric traction.
Leslie Blanchard, The Street Railway Era in Seattle: A Chronicle of Six Decades (Forty Fort, PA: Harold E. Cox, 1968); Walt Crowley, Routes: A Brief History of Public Transportation in Metropolitan Seattle (Seattle: Metro Transit, 1993).
Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay
Browse to Next Essay >
Roads & Rails |
Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that
encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both
HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any
reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this
Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For
more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact
the source noted in the image credit.
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided
By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins
| Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry
| 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle
| City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach
Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private
Sponsors and Visitors Like You