Built 1948 • Operational • Tribute livery
This streetcar is painted to honor Cincinnati, which ran PCC streetcars from 1939 to 1951. Cincinnati was unique among North American streetcar systems in requiring two overhead wires for streetcars, one to supply electrical power, the other to provide a ground and complete the circuit. This arrangement grew from an early and (pardon the pun) groundless fear of electrocution from the standard streetcar practice of returning current through the tracks. (Trolley buses use two wires because they run on rubber tires, and have no tracks to use as ground.)
Bill Storage photo.
The uniqueness of Cincinnati’s PCCs extended to the paint scheme, an eye-popping canary yellow with three bold green stripes around the body. Only PCCs got this treatment in Cincinnati—buses and older streetcars were painted a prosaic transit orange.
Cincinnati’s streetcar governance was also unusual. The system was owned by a private company, the Cincinnati Street Railway Co. (CSR), but the City of Cincinnati had direct control over routes and operations under the franchise it granted.
In 1939, CSR purchased three modern streetcars — competing PCCs from St. Louis Car Co. and Pullman-Standard, plus a Brilliner — to compare their features. It then bought 26 PCCs from St. Louis Car in 1940 and 25 more that were delivered in 1947. CSR wanted 50 PCCs in that post-war order, but the City government, which favored buses, cut the order in half.
Then, with the paint on the new PCCs still shiny, the city force conversion of the Madisonville line to trolley buses in July 1947 - one of the earliest abandonments of a PCC route in America - and followed with demands for more conversions.
By 1950, with its finances in disarray, CSR decided to sell its PCCs, half of which were just three years old. Toronto bought all but the Pullman-Standard demonstrator, which, along with the single Brilliner, joined older Peter Witt style streetcars in running out the clock. It was the only time that PCCs were outlasted in regular service by old-fashioned streetcars.
Cincinnati’s last streetcar line, the 78-Lockland, was abandoned on April 29, 1951. But on February 17, 2012, as part of the current streetcar renaissance in America, Cincinnati broke ground on a new streetcar line, connecting downtown with the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood and uptown communities surrounding the University of Cincinnati. The new line will use modern, Portland-style streetcars.
Its vivid color makes No. 1057 one of the most photographed streetcars on the F-line.