The streetcar system was once a national model. This new book shows and tells of the glory days gone by.
Twin Cities by Trolley: The Streetcar Era in Minneapolis and St. Paul by John W. Diers and Aaron Isaacs (University of Minnesota Press, $39.95)
Between 1875 and 1954, local developer Thomas Lowry and a host of other urban visionaries built and managed what was once the nation’s most envied streetcar system, 523 miles of track that, at its peak, served more than 200 million passengers a year and stretched from Lake Minnetonka to White Bear Lake to Stillwater. This gorgeous coffee table book chronicles the rise and fall of that remarkable system with fascinating stories and historical images. Diers and Isaacs have delved deep into the sordid history of the Twin City Rapid Transit Company, which fell prey to the glories of the automobile and diesel bus in postwar America; but more impressively, they’ve provided a photographic travelogue of many of the neighborhoods whose residents relied on the streetcars for their everyday transportation. This is not simply a comprehensive and compelling chronicle of a bygone way of travel, it’s a remarkable portrait of a city coming of age.