green streets
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thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
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From relic to revolutionary: streetcars revitalize city transit | SmartPlanet

From relic to revolutionary: streetcars revitalize city transit | SmartPlanet | green streets | Scoop.it
More than a half-century after streetcars were abandoned and burned, at least a dozen U.S. cities are working to revive them.


The revitalization of Portland, Ore.’s Pearl District, where empty warehouses were replaced with art galleries and abandoned rail yards gave way to multi-family housing, truly began for some when a streetcar line opened there in 2001. As the streetcar shuttled passengers around the once-decrepit neighborhood, it also swept billions of dollars of investments into the revived community.

What’s more, streetcars can protect the environment. “If you have clean electrical energy sources and feed them into the tram system,” said

Patrick Condon, a professor at the University of British Columbia and author of Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities- “it is greenhouse gas zero.” That combination of smart urban development and eco-friendly transit, he said, means more sustainable cities by 2050. “The real benefit of thinking about trams is not the vehicle itself,” Condon said, “but rather how the whole city works and how you move from place to place in a way that’s elegant, comfortable and greenhouse gas zero.”


Read on for details and examples that feature the potential positive benefits of reviving the streetcar- a 'clean alternative to cars'.

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Are streetcars the answer to our transit and environmental needs?

Are streetcars the answer to our transit and environmental needs? | green streets | Scoop.it

Patrick Condon wants to turn back the clock to the streetcar era.

Condon, an urban planner and professor at the University of British Columbia, says bringing back the streetcar is the best thing cities can do to reduce their emission of greenhouse gases and become more sustainable.

Speaking last week at the University of Minnesota, Condon said most North American cities developed out of the agricultural grid system, in which the land was divided into one-mile-square parcels. Streetcars could easily be added back into cities that developed on a grid pattern and many suburbs could be retrofitted to include them, he said...

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Why Did Some Streetcars Survive When Most Didn't?

Why Did Some Streetcars Survive When Most Didn't? | green streets | Scoop.it

America is experiencing what the Secretary of Transportation calls a "streetcar revival." At least 20 cities, encouraged by the availability of federal TIGER grants, have expressed an interest in building new streetcar lines. Each week seems to bring a new project: Kansas City now envisions a $101 million, four-mile line ready by 2015; Indianapolis began to contemplate two miles of downtown track in late summer; just a few days ago Providence scheduled several public meetings for its $126 million concept. The list goes on and on...

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The Streetcar As a City's Moving Symbol

The Streetcar As a City's Moving Symbol | green streets | Scoop.it
A survey of light rail aesthetics from around the world.

With shrinking government budgets and transit usage on the rise, the above-ground streetcar (or tram) is making a comeback. Beyond their efficiency (not to mention their affordability compared to subway expansions), streetcars add a visual charm to any city, no matter the make or model or even the location it serves.

Still, in many ways, the type of rail car a city employs can say a lot about the place. Some of the older ones can suggest a city's affinity for it's history (Milan) or perhaps its lower budget (Poznan). New ones can suggest a city's growing density levels (Seattle and San Diego) or just its attempts to modernize (Athens and Lisbon).

The diversity of cityscapes as well as an equally diverse set of streetcar designs ended up making for a more interesting tour than expected...

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Streets- The Pedestrian Loses the Way

Streets- The Pedestrian Loses the Way | green streets | Scoop.it
Before the advent of the electric and cable streetcars, pedestrians had undifferentiated dominion over both the sidewalks and the roadbed.

This changed in the 1880s with the advent of electric and cable streetcars, with their much greater weights and speeds than horse-drawn vehicles, not to mention their guillotine-like wheels. It is a comment on how we viewed our streets that, by design, passengers were meant to board streetcars in the middle of the roadway.

There are only a few places where one can recapture the old relationship of the buildings to the full width of the street...

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