A Streetcar Named “Why All The Wires?”

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Charles HTM’

“Why are the tourists entitled to a better view than we are?” Monte Edwards of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society told the Washington Post. “I like to look up and see the sky and trees. They’re as important to me as a resident as the tourist’s views of our monuments.”

Edwards is one of many who are tangled “in the wires” when it comes to the reemergence of streetcars in the District.

Streetcars ran on the streets of Washington from 1862 until 1962 and was a backbone of the District’s transportation until Congress called for a bus replacement when the auto industry took off in the 1950s. Now, city planners awaiting the realization of their $1.5 billion vision will have to fight the battle guardians of the federal city before connecting the city’s widespread neighborhoods.

What are they fighting about? The proposed overhead electrical wires taking up valuable DC airspace and hindering the illustrious, open sky view we’ve been able to maintain during the city’s 200(plus) year history.

According to The National Park Service’s spokesman Bill Line, the Service “does not want and does not approve of” overhead wires in the city. No matter which side of the tracks you find yourself on in this debate, I suggest becoming vocal … and soon. That’s the only way to either put a halt to the project or get the those wires hung.

Rachel moved to DC in the fall of 2005 to study Journalism and Music at American University. When she’s not keeping up with the latest Major League Baseball news, she works on making music as an accomplished singer-songwriter and was even a featured performer/speaker at TEDxDupont Circle in 2012. Rachel has also contributed to The Washington Examiner and MASN Sports’ Nationals Buzz as a guest blogger. See why she loves DC. E-Mail: rachel@welovedc.com.

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8 thoughts on “A Streetcar Named “Why All The Wires?”

  1. Whats the alternative? DC need street cars, but i see the argument. So is there a different method?

  2. There’s no alternative to overhead wires? No way to do a third-rail, or on-board battery electric power?

    I do wonder though why it took so long for this to come up- you’d think complaints would have been done back when the planning was under way rather than now that they’re putting down the tracks.

  3. I find these complaints funny because I’ve been to New Orleans and Portland recently; both have wires for cable cars and I was still able to see the sky and the site lines of the city. In fact, I’m trying to think if I even noticed the wires while in Portland; they made no impression on me. I think people have a 1940s New York City image in their heads with cable cars that has no basis in their modern usage.

    It’s just like everything else new (buildings, renovations, monuments, laws, etc.) in this city: everyone complains about the change, giving the worst possible outcome; then when things do change, everyone moves on like there had never been any complaining.

  4. Can we just blitz the construction and get it done, the streetcars running, and deal with finessing it later? H Street has sooo much going for it, but there need to be sidewalks that will fit several people at once, no more holes in the ground, and streetcars running. Think about how much a electrified third rail is not a good idea on an open street, especially after the winter we just had.

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