Detroit Trolly Line

Early on, a host of streetcar companies carried Detroiters about their daily business. This period was followed by consolidation into one company, the Detroit United Railway. A large system (187 miles) was built by the Detroit United Railway in the 1900s through the 1920s. The system began to be sold to the Detroit Department of Street Railways in 1922.

The Department of Street Railways, made Detroit the first city in the United States to establish municipally owned transit system. It was a leader and innovator in the transit industry, with continued streetcar service until April 8, 1956, when the last streetcars on Woodward Avenue were replaced by buses.

The City of Detroit entered into a bidding competition with Kansas City to sell its electric-powered streetcars to Mexico City in 1955. The City sold 183 cars for a total of $699,000.

The original bar on the first floor became a comfort station for the trolley line. The line ran eastward down Jefferson Avenue towards the Pointes, north up Alter to Charlevoix. The turnaround at our corner sent the streetcars back downtown via Charlevoix. Extra trolleys for the line were parked behind the Tap Room.

The Streetlights

Detroit’s first attempt to light the streets began with whale oil lamps, but they fizzled out very quickly, both literally and figuratively. The next attempt was to use gas lights. They worked well and were used until the late 1870s. Gas lamps were labor intensive; they required workers to come out and light the lamps every night. In addition, the quality of a single lamp was lacking. Gas lights were not very bright; they cast kind of a dim glow on the streets, so it required a lot of gas lamps to effectively light the streets.

The first attempt to light Detroit with electric lighting was not with the streetlights we know today. The Brush Electric Light Company won a contract from the city to install lighting towers that resemble phone towers that we see today. The towers were about 120 feet tall and topped with a ring of arc lights that would cast a glow across an entire block or intersection. They were known as moonlight because the light that they cast was so bright that it looked like the moon rising over your entire neighborhood. However, people complained that the lights were too noisy, cast a glare, and were so bright they couldn't sleep with the light shining through their windows.

In 1916 the lights were replaced with the Pineapple types. Charlevoix holds many of stands of Bishops and 1916 Pineapple types. The battleshi-gray Pineapples line Charlevoix in Detroit. The insulator brackets held the support wires for the Peter Witt Streetcars into the 1940s and the trackless electric "trolley-buses" into 1962. These lights you can still see today, right in front of the Taproom.