MOTU@5 | How We Got Here Online Exhibit | Mass Transportation

Throughout October, MOTU and the Free Library of Philadelphia will be showcasing unique archival images from Philadelphia’s transportation and utilities history in an on-line exhibit called “How’d we get here?”.  Every and Monday and Wednesday in October we will be showcasing a certain segment of the exhibit (all photographs are from the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Print and Picture Collection).

On Wednesday we took a look at the history of the construction of the El and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.  Today we’ll be taking a brief look at the history of Philly’s mass transportation by selecting three of our favorite photos from the “Mass Transportation” portion of the exhibit.  You can check out all of the historic images online here and in person at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Central Branch (1901 Vine Street).

Making sure Philadelphians get where they need to go – Philadelphia boasts one of the most robust mass transportation systems in the nation. One quarter of all Philadelphians ride transit to work on one of the most diverse set of transit systems in the country. They have the choice of catching trolleys, subways, commuter rail or buses to get where they are going. These photos allow us to step back into time and look at how this transportation system grew from the early trains serving northwest Philadelphia to the first buses that crossed the entire city.

3. C Bus Resumes Service, 1947

c bus, 1947 top 5

This photograph, from June of 1947, was taken on the day the C Bus resumed service up and down the entire length of Broad Street after closing during World War II to conserve fuel and rubber.  The C Bus continued to run until 2012 when it was split into two routes: the Route 4 and the Route 16.

2. Trolleys and horse-drawn carriages at 15th St. and Market St., 1907


This image shows trolleys and horse-drawn carriages interacting at 15th Street and Market Street, taken on October 2, 1907.

Digital Collection number: pdcsm00353

1. Haddington horse-drawn street car, 1876

last days of horse drawn 1876, haddington to haverford035

Prior to buses and trolleys, a number of horse-drawn street cars were operated in and around Philadelphia. These were essentially horse-drawn carriages that ran on rails to create a smoother ride. This photo shows the last day of the Haddington horse-drawn street car in 1876 at 66th Street and Haverford Road.  Many of the horse-drawn street cars became trolley lines, some of which still operate to this day.


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