La Voiture de la Rue (more or less). I guess we can have a French sounding name for
our venerable streetcars.
New Orleans is no stranger to light rail. Introduced in 1833, horse
drawn streetcars provided public transit across the city.
"Smokey Mary" ran from the CBD to Carrollton. Electrification in the 1890's gave a boost to the popularity of street
cars and allowed the system to grow to 200 route miles by 1911.
More than 50 routes were operated across New Orleans at one time or
another. Largely replaced by buses (cheaper and air conditioned) in the
1960's the Canal Street line was
closed, leaving only the St.Charles streetcar as a reminder of the
past. Recognizing the tourist value of the streetcar, a line linking the
French Quarter to the Convention Center was opened in 1988. Then in
2004 the Canal Street Line was reopened from the foot of Canal (at the
river) to City Park and the Cemetaries area. You'll find more details and images at George Friedman's website.
Katrina closed the St. Charles line by destroying the overhead catenary
(power lines), flooding the power transformers and rectifiers and damaged the cars used on the Canal line in flooding.
The St. Charles cars were quickly switched to the Canal Line and
continue to provide service today. The St Charles line reopened in stages. The first bit from Canal to Lee Circle opened in December, 2006. November 11, 2007 saw the line extended to Napoleon Avenue. December 2007 saw the streetcars running all the way to Carrollton at Riverbend powered from the Calliope substation. Finally the section along Carrolton to Claiborne reopened June 22, 2008 when repairs to the substation at the Willow Street car barn were completed.