Right now the city is repaving Wisconsin Ave. through Georgetown (which, frankly, seems like not the best idea for this exact moment, given that it has temporarily displaced the successful streateries, but GM digresses…) And one of the pleasures of observing such projects is that you get a momentary glimpse into what is normally beneath the asphalt. Sometimes it’s cobblestones. And sometime, like right now, it’s a relic of the city’s once extensive streetcar network.
What you see above are the streetcar tracks that once ran (well actually, still run, it would seem) down the center of Wisconsin Ave. You can in fact clearly see the underground conduit that was in the middle and provided the cars with their power while in downtown.
Here is a streetcar just north of P St. on Wisconsin. This is where the car would shift from getting power from the slot below to the wires above. You can see the slots starting on the right.
Streeetcars ran the length of Wisconsin Ave. from M St. all the way up to Friendship Heights. In fact, the 30-series bus numbers for the same route are simply the continuation of the old routes when bustitution took place in the 1960s.
There was a brief period about ten years ago when the city appeared ready to bring back a full streetcar service. There was even a push to send the streetcars back up Wisconsin Ave. But after a completely ham-fisted handling of the initial line on H St., the city has trimmed back those plans to keep just the stub line.
So pretty soon this relic will be covered over once more with asphalt, and little visual evidence will remain of the once great streetcar system.