Invented by : Frank Julian Sprague Invented in year : 1888
An Electric Streetcar is a vehicle that runs on track laid in the streets, operated usually in single units and usually driven by electric motor. It is of lighter weight and construction than a conventional train. It is generally designed for the transport of passengers but occasionally it will carry freight too. These operate within, close to, or between villages, towns and/or cities, on tracks running primarily on streets. Certain types of cable car are also known as trams. They were also known as Tramcar, Trolley, Trolleycar, Cable cars or Streetcar.
History of the Invention
The first mass transportation vehicle in America was called an omnibus. It looked like a stagecoach and was pulled by horses. The first omnibus to operate in America began running up and down Broadway in New York City in the year 1827. The first important improvement over the omnibus was the Streetcar. The first Streetcars were also pulled by horses, however, instead of riding along a regular street, the Streetcars rolled along special steel rails that were placed in the middle of the street. On January 17, 1871, San Franciscan Andrew Smith Hallidie patented the first cable car. Using metal ropes he had patented, Hallidie devised a mechanism by which cars were drawn by an endless cable running in a slot between the rails which passed over a steam-driven shaft in the powerhouse.
In 1888, Frank Julian Sprague invented a system on Streetcars for collecting electricity from overhead wires. His spring-loaded trolley pole, invented in 1880, used a wheel to travel along the wire. Using his trolley system, Sprague installed the first successful large electric street railway system, the Richmond Union Passenger Railway in Richmond, Virginia. This was the first large scale and successful use of electricity to run a city's entire system of Streetcars. To get electricity to the Streetcars from the powerhouse where it was generated, an overhead wire was installed over city streets. A Streetcar would touch this electric wire with a long pole on its roof. Back at the powerhouse, big steam engines would turn huge generators to produce the electricity needed to operate the Streetcars. A new name was soon developed for Streetcars powered by electricity; they were called trolley cars.
Development in the Invention of Electric Streetcar
After 1888, many cities turned to electric-powered Streetcars. Within a year, electric power had replaced more costly horsecars in many cities. By 1889 110 electric railways incorporating Sprague's equipment had been begun or planned on several continents.
The success of the San Francisco line led to the expansion of that system and the introduction of street railways in many other cities. By the 1920s, most United States municipalities had abandoned horse drawn cars for electrically powered cars.
Importance of the Invention of the Electric Streetcar
It made Transportation easier, faster and effective
It boosted trade and business
Electric Streetcars were more reliable than previous versions