Looking at a map of Houston today, one might not believe important streetcars once were to the bayou city. In this project, I researched the history of the streetcar system and companies that owned it. I argued that it was vital to the configuration of the early city. It determined land values and helped increase the city limits. The streetcar system was also an integral part of the expansion of Houston’s city government. Early city governments had much less power than they do today. By increasing control over the urban environment, such as streetcar track and city streets, the city government was able to expand its power over the city. However, the streetcar was replaced by streets, highways, and automobiles and has been mostly forgotten by Houstonians.
Originally my M.A. thesis, I wrote a short book for the American Public Works Association Historical Society on the topic.