Pittsburgh Railways was the mass transit system in Pittsburgh, PA during the first half of the 1900s. It operated streetcars.
A streetcar or trolley runs on rail tracks along streets. They’re usually electric-powered. People got around American cities by streetcar until the mid-20th century.
Pittsburgh Railways ran three lines into Carrick – the 53-Carrick, the 47-Carrick via Tunnel, and the 77/54-North Side-Carrick via Bloomfield. Streetcar routes to Carrick operated from the South Side up South 18th Street and along Brownsville Road as far as the Brentwood Loop, which provided a turnaround point.
The 51-Bon Air and 44-Knoxville-Penna. Station also provided service into South Pittsburgh. The Mount Oliver Incline ran until the early 1950s. The Knoxville Incline provided mass transit to the South Side until Pittsburgh Railways closed it in 1960.
Motor-powered companies were permitted by the state to transport people using trolley in the late 1800s. Soon, nearly 200 trolley operators provided streetcar service in the city. Pittsburgh Railways was formed by consolidating streetcar lines in the early 1900s.
Pittsburgh Railways bought out its competitors in the first decade of the century, bringing all urban transit in the region under its monopoly. The company was a behemoth
Pittsburgh Railways managed trolley parks. On the weekends, when ridership was low, people would ride the trolley to the parks. Dilly’s Grove, which was also know as Southern Park and Carrick Park, was a trolley park in Carrick. It featured roller coasters, merry go rounds and vaudeville acts. Today, Phillips Park is situated on the same location as Dilly’s Grove.
Double decker streetcars were used by Pittsburgh Railways. Although Pittsburgh had the largest fleet of double decker streetcars in America, “they never really catch on here,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote in 1999.
Starting in the 1930s and for the next thirty years, Pittsburgh Railways operated the PCC streetcar. That design spread throughout the world. Many PCC streetcars are still used today in other countries. Most people, when they think about streetcars, think about the PCC style. Pictures of Pittsburgh Railways streetcars can be seen at Historic Pittsburgh and PittsburghTransit.org.
Pittsburgh Railways’ Interurban Division operated high-speed trolleys from Pittsburgh to Washington County, making several stops there.
Into the 1960s, Pittsburgh Railways added streetcar service to handle the higher demand for service around Pittsburgh Steelers, Pirates and Pitt Panthers football games.
Rail lines are expensive to build and operate. Pittsburgh Railways filed for bankruptcy twice. Lines were abandoned. The Washington County line was eliminated. Buses replaced streetcars to save money.
The 1960s saw the rise of publicly-owned mass transit. The Port Authority of Allegheny County bought Pittsburgh Railways’ streetcar system. Today the Port Authority operates nearly 100 bus routes that have more than 7,000 stops, including the 51-Carrick bus. Many of today’s bus routes reflect the names of former streetcar routes.
Pittsburgh Railways was renamed Pittway Corporation. It manufactured aerosol cans, fire and burglar alarms, and security systems. At the turn of the century, Pittway was acquired by Honeywell, a Fortune 100 Company that is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, in Chartiers Township, Washington County, displays more than 50 trolleys. Most have been restored, some to pristine condition. Admission covers a ride on a 2-mile trolley track.