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Fascinating Vintage Photos of Pittsburgh Streetcar System in the Mid-1960s

A major industrial force, Pittsburgh was the 17th largest city in the United States in the 1850s, housing nearly 1,000 factories. The town of about 50,000 produced large amounts of the durable material and was growing each year, earning its nickname, the Steel City. In 1859, a horse-drawn carriage began carrying passengers between downtown Pittsburgh and 34th Street as part of Pittsburgh’s first public transit system.

Pittsburgh’s transportation systems evolved as the city grew and technology advanced. There were 33 private companies running bus, incline, and trolley routes in the 1950s. Pittsburgh Railways Company operated 666 streetcars. Some railroads also ran passenger trains, like the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. They had different fares and different drivers’ unions that paid different wages. Most of the vehicles ran on overlapping routes. With declining ridership, each company was struggling to make money.

In the early 1960s, PAT decided to phase out the streetcars in favor of buses gradually. The Port Authority did not eliminate trolleys immediately; instead, it focused on updating its bus fleet, adding park-and-ride parks for suburban residents, and introducing brightly colored, stripy “mod” style buses. New buses were purchased with some assistance from the federal government. A new alpha-numeric system, which was inspired by city corridors, was used to name the routes.

The last streetcar rolled through downtown on July 6, 1985. In parallel with the trolley’s disappearance, the T-rail system started to emerge.

These vintage photos were scanned by Marty Bernard from Roger Puta’s Pittsburgh PCC Streetcar slides, which show Pittsburgh’s streetcar system in 1965.

#1 A #6 Brighton Road on Penn Ave. at 6th St. in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on September 1, 1965

#2 A #8 Perryville approaching the Keating Car House, Pittsburgh, PA on June 26, 1965

#3 A #8 Perryville leaving the Keating Car House, Pittsburgh, Pa on June 26, 1965

#4 A #10 West View departing Keating Car House and Crossing Perryville Ave. in Pittsburgh, PA on June 26, 1965

#5 A #13 Emsworth car on Lincoln Ave. near Fremont Ave. in Bellvue, PA on June 26, 1965

#6 A #39 Brookline car on Liberty Ave. in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#7 A #39 Brookline car on Smithfield St. between 1st Ave. and Blvd. of the Allies in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#8 A #42-38 Mt. Lebanon-Beachview (Dormont) car on Grant St. at 6th Ave. in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#9 A #42/38 Mt. Lebannon car at P&LE transfer near Smithfield St. bridge, Pittsburgh, PA on September 1, 1965

#10 A #49 Beltzhoover car on Grant St. at 6th Ave. in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#11 A #50 Carson St. car at the P&LE transfer near the Smithfiel St. bridge in Pittsburgh, PA September 1, 1965

#12 A #50 Carson St. car on Grant St. at 6th Ave. in Downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#13 A #50 Carson St. car on Grant St. between 3rd and 4th Avenues in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#14 A #53 Carrick car on Brownsville Rd. about to enter the Brentwood loop, Pittsburgh, PA on September 1, 1965

#15 A #64 East Pittsburgh-Willkinsburg car on Forbs Ave. at Frick Park in Pittsburgh, PA on June 26, 1965

#16 A #64 East Pittsburgh-Willkinsburg car on Forbs Ave. at Frick Park in Pittsburgh, PA on June 26, 1965

#17 A #64 East Pittsburgh-Willkinsburgcar on 4th Ave. crossing Smithfield Street in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#18 A #67 Swissdale-Rankin-Braddock car on Wood St. near 4th Ave. in downtown Pittsburgh, PA. on June 26, 1965

#19 A #73 Highland car on 6th Ave. beyond Smithfield St. in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on September 1, 1965

#20 A #73 Highland car on Liberty Ave past Barker Pl. in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#21 A #75 Wilkensburg via East Liberty car on 4th Ave. crossing Hrant St. in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#22 A #76 Hamilton car on Hamilton Ave. near 5th Ave. in Pittsburgh, PA on June 26, 1965

#23 A #82 Lincoln car on 6th Ave. crossing Grant St. in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#24 A #82 Lincoln car on Lincoln Ave. approaching Frankstown Ave. in Pittsburgh on June 26, 1965

#25 A #87 Ardmore car on Liberty Ave. at Barker Place in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#26 A #88 Frankstown car on Frankstown Ave. between Finley and Washington Blvd. in front of Pittsburgh Hospital, Pittsbirgh, PA. on June 26, 1965

#27 A #88 Frankstown car on Frankstown Ave. between Finley and Washington Blvd. in front of Pittsburgh Hospital, Pittsbirgh, PA. on June 26, 1965

#28 A 8 Perrysville car waits to lrave Keating Car House as motorman calls dispatcher, Pittsburgh, PA on June 26, 1965

#29 A Mt. Washington car on Grandview Ave. at Olympia St. in Pittsburgh, PA (Dusquene Heights) on June 26 1965

#30 A Mt. Washington car on Grandview Ave. crossing Cohasset Ave. in Pittsburgh, PA (Dusquene Heights) on June 26, 1965

#31 A Shannon-Drake car crossing on gauntlet single track wooded trestle over Saw Mill Run Parkway at Colerain St in Pittsburgh, PA on June 26, 1965

#32 A Shannon-Drake car on Grant St. at 6th Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#33 A Shannon-library at the P&LE transfer near Smithfield St. Bridge, Pittsburgh, PA on September 1, 1965

#34 Brighton Road – Emsworth on Brighton Road at Corons St., Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#35 Carrick via Tunnel on Brownsville Road about to enter Brentwood Loop, Pittsburgh, PA on September 1, 1965

#36 Mt. Washington car on Grant St. at 6th Ave in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#37 North Side Carrick via Bloomfield between Boyle and Loraine in Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#38 On Grant St. near Liberty Ave. going back to the carhouse in downtown Pittsburgh, PA on September 1, 1965

#39 Shannon – Library on Smithfield Ave. near 4th Ave. in Downtown Pittsburgh, PA on June 27, 1965

#40 West view along East St. in Pittsburgh, PA on June 26, 1965

Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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