St. Charles Avenue streetcar line named National Historic Landmark

Published: Oct. 1, 2014 at 10:49 AM CDT
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The St. Charles Avenue streetcar line has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The U.S. Department of the Interior announced Tuesday that the oldest operating streetcar system in America has been added to the list.

The line joins over 2,500 sites across the country recognized as places that possess "exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States."

The St. Charles Line is the nation's oldest operational street railway, a transportation method that at its peak carried nearly 16 billion passengers nationwide each year, and is the only streetcar system dating from that period to remain in operation.

"The St. Charles Line is also significant for its 35 arch-roofed, steel-bodied Perley Thomas streetcars, which represent an evolution in the engineering of street railway technology," a press release from the Department of Interior reads in part.

The cars have continuously operated on the line's tracks since 1923-24. Of the thousands originally manufactured, the St. Charles line's cars are the only conventional streetcars to have remained in operation within their original system.

Eight other landmarks were also added to the list of historic landmarks on Tuesday. The other eight include Baltusrol Golf Club, Springfield, New Jersey; Brown Bridge, Rutland County, Vermont; Duck Creek Aqueduct, Metamora, Franklin County, Indiana; Eagle Island (Admiral Robert E. Peary Summer Home), Harpswell, Maine; General Motors Technical Center, Warren, Michigan; Frances Perkins Homestead, Newcastle, Maine; Lydia Pinkham House, Lynn, Massachusetts; and The Research Studio (Maitland Art Center), Maitland, Florida.

"These nine sites add to a nationwide network of unique, historic places that represent the complex journey that we have taken as a nation," said Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell in a press release. "By designating these new national landmarks we ensure that America's history of innovation, vision and diversity are celebrated today and for future generations."

This is not the first historic recognition for the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The line was declared a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.

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