streetcar

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
Save to active project

streetcar

streetcar, small, self-propelled railroad car, similar to the type used in rapid-transit systems, that operates on tracks running through city streets and is used to carry passengers. Most often cars of this type are powered by electricity supplied through an underground third rail or an overhead wire. A device called a trolley that is connected to the streetcar's electrical system makes rolling or sliding contact with the rail or wire; hence the name trolley car often is applied to such vehicles. Streetcars are sometimes powered by diesel or other internal-combustion engines, generally in suburban or rural areas, where the distances to be covered make the cost of electrification prohibitive. The first streetcars, which were drawn by horses, were introduced in New York City during the 1830s. The first electric streetcar system for urban passenger service in the United States was introduced in Cleveland during the 1880s. The use of streetcars expanded in the United States until World War I. Since then most have been replaced by buses, although many still remain in use, and a new system of streetcars has been built in San Diego.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

streetcar
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?