One of the things that make New Orleans so special is its living link to the past. And a very visible part of that link is the streetcars of New Orleans. In my home city of Toronto, the old wooden Red Rocket streetcars are long gone, replaced by sleek, new models. But here in New Orleans, the old, vintage cars still rumble along the streets of the city, a vital part of its daily life. And rather than being replaced, they’re making a comeback.
The most famous of New Orleans’ iconic streetcar routes is the St. Charles line, which dates back to 1835 — one of the oldest continuously operating street railways in the world. But there are lines running all around central New Orleans, including the one you see at the top of this post, serving the main downtown artery, Canal Street. And in an amazing show of good judgement, the city recently restored streetcar service along North Rampart Street for the first time since 1949.
The streetcars of New Orleans are a wonderful sight, with their red paint, big windows and old-time design. But they’re equally wonderful to ride in. Somehow, riding a streetcar is just more pleasurable than taking the bus. The sights of the city slide by as you glide through the old neighbourhoods, a spectator at the grand show of city life. You’re on a journey punctuated by perfectly executed stops, riding on steel rails that can never stray off course, and there’s something comforting about that.
There are faster, more efficient ways to get around a city, things like subways and light rail systems. But there are none as beautiful and nostalgic as the streetcars of New Orleans. And happily, it looks like they’ll be around for a long time.
This photo was taken with the Fujifilm X-A3 mirrorless camera; to see it full size, click on the picture