Wikimedia Commons

A survey of light rail aesthetics from around the world.

With shrinking government budgets and transit usage on the rise, the above-ground streetcar (or tram) is making a comeback. Beyond their efficiency (not to mention their affordability compared to subway expansions), streetcars add a visual charm to any city, no matter the make or model or even the location it serves.

Still, in many ways, the type of rail car a city employs can say a lot about the place. Some of the older ones can suggest a city's affinity for it's history (Milan) or perhaps its lower budget (Poznan). New ones can suggest a city's growing density levels (Seattle and San Diego) or just its attempts to modernize (Athens and Lisbon).

The diversity of cityscapes as well as an equally diverse set of streetcar designs ended up making for a more interesting tour than expected. Below is a sampling of some well-known and barely known streetcar models we came across:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Life

    Amazon Whittles Down List of HQ2 Contenders to 20 Finalists

    The list skews toward larger cities and metropolitan areas along the Eastern corridor, stretching as far north as Toronto and as far south as Miami. And it looks like some of the economic incentives might be paying off.

  2. An aisle in a grocery store
    Equity

    It's Not the Food Deserts: It's the Inequality

    A new study suggests that America’s great nutritional divide goes deeper than the problem of food access within cities.

  3. A man sits in a room alone.
    Equity

    The World's First Minister of Loneliness

    Britain just created an entirely new ministry to tackle this serious public health concern.

  4. Life

    To the People Who Want to Spend 36 Hours in Washington

    Spend a day-and-a-half in D.C. and you just might find a city beyond the politico caricature.

  5. 1970s apartment complex in downtown Buffalo
    Equity

    The Last Man Standing in a Doomed Buffalo Housing Complex

    After a long fight between tenants and management, John Schmidt is waiting for U.S. Marshals to drag him out of Shoreline apartments, a Brutalist project designed by Paul Rudolph.