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 Post subject: Historical Streetcar Trivia
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:09 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2011 5:57 pm
Posts: 55
On many of the earliest electric streetcars the motorman operated on an open platform exposed to the elements while the passengers rode in the protected, enclosed section. Was this simply a holdover from the design of horse-drawn streetcars, or did it reflect a classification of the motorman as a lower-class individual, something like a servant or slave? Or were there other reasons why fully-enclosed streetcar designs took longer to develop?


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 Post subject: Re: Historical Streetcar Trivia
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:19 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
Posts: 1438
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
A New York City streetcar official may have been quoted as fearing reduced visibility from a build up of ice on a front window, which would be less likely on the motorman's unprotected eyeballs, because of body heat.


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 Post subject: Re: Historical Streetcar Trivia
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:13 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2005 2:27 am
Posts: 389
Location: Winters, TX
I'd vote for it being a design holdover from horsecar days. Frostbite was a serious problem for motormen and my guess is that the loss of dexterity when operating the controls would outweigh visibility issues with an icy window. I believe motormen were well respected back in those days, at least by the public.


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 Post subject: Re: Historical Streetcar Trivia
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:32 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2005 9:34 pm
Posts: 1885
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
I suspect it was a combination of factors. When drawn by a horse, operations were limited by conditions for the horse (rest breaks, cancellation). The switch to electric removed that weather limit.

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Danmarks Tekniske Universitet
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 Post subject: Re: Historical Streetcar Trivia
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:28 am 

Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2007 6:29 pm
Posts: 37
Location: Cumberland, Maryland
It’s more than a holdover from horsecar days…it’s a holdover from stages, omnibuses and the like. Just take a look at the designs of carriage and wagon builders which predate the horsecars. Let’s not forget that the development of anything is dependent on the willingness to pay for it. Street railway management in many cases looked at the installation of vestibules, as an expense that it could do without. Often the argument would involve the public safety issue (reduced visibility, etc.), but I’ll bet the cost was debated in the boardroom more than once, with the “why change what works” argument often prevailing.


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 Post subject: Re: Historical Streetcar Trivia
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:33 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:08 pm
Posts: 254
Location: Western Railroad Museum - Rio Vista
Supposedly New York Third Avenue System did not enclose platforms to protect motormen from the weather until required by a city ordinance ca. 1910.


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 Post subject: Re: Historical Streetcar Trivia
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:54 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:05 pm
Posts: 380
Location: Between Things
I was going to comment that drivers of horsecars needed to hold the reins. Then I thought about cable cars where the gripman's working space was in the open. Anybody know of an enclosed grip area?

The first automobiles were open, maybe because of the horse and buggy?

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 Post subject: Re: Historical Streetcar Trivia
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 12:31 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:47 am
Posts: 210
Location: www.frrm.org
Here's a photo that I colorized of an electrified former mule car in Louisville in the 1890's.
I did this one for our video on the history of Louisville streetcars several years ago. Note that the electric car is pulling a trailer (former mule car).

Louisville preferred mules over horses because they stood up to the weather better and ate less hay.

-Jim Herron


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 Post subject: Re: Historical Streetcar Trivia
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:24 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:25 pm
Posts: 1806
The Washington, DC Public Utilities Commission did not require vestibules until 1905. Samples of the windows are shown here as added to CTCo 522 and CTC0 09 by the company at that time. There is a sliding sash for the center opening. Can you imagine running the sweeper in a snowstorm without a vestibule?

Wesley

Image

Image


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