New Orleans has a variety of tourist attractions and one exciting way of enjoying the sights in the city and getting around is by means of streetcars and the St. Charles Streetcar can provide the best experience.
There are currently three operating streetcar lines that provide public transportation services in the city: the Canal Street Line, the Riverfront Line and the oldest and most famous St. Charles Avenue Line. All these three streetcars originate downtown but transport their passengers to different parts of the city.
The St. Charles Streetcar is the oldest and longest operating street railway system in the world that started way back the first half of the 19th century and has been a very important part of New Orleans? public transportation complex. This is the only line that operated continuously since the start of New Orleans? streetcar history.
In 1831, planning for the creation of the second railway in Greater New Orleans next to the now defunct Pontchartrain Rail Road began and was called the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad before being known as the St. Charles Avenue Line. On September 26, 1835, the streetcar line opened and started providing transportation services to the public. Steam engines were used at that time but in 1867, due to the extreme amount of noise these engines created, mules were used to replace those and in 1893 electrified streetcar, as we see them today, were brought in.
The St. Charles streetcars are preserved and kept in their original styles which are that of early 20th century cars or commonly known as ?Thomas Perry? cars. Attractive finishing, brass handles and sophisticated benches made out of mahogany adorn the interior of the cars. Although most modern transportations are equipped with air-conditioning units, the streetcars have none as it was in the past, but passengers can respire a pleasant breeze that enters through the open windows with blinds that protect the passengers against the sun. There are overhead electric cables where power is obtained from and passes through a metal pole at the top of the cars.
Operated by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA), the St. Charles Streetcar provides the best tour experience. A 40 minute end to end trip via the streetcar that passes along St. Charles Avenue will allow passengers to experience one of the most magnificent streets in New Orleans lined with grandiose live oaks and some luxurious mansions. As the car moves along, it passes by some of the top attractions the city has to offer.
Starting from Canal Street, the Lafayette Square is the first point of interest, then the Lee Circle and within walking distance a complex of museums, including the World War II Museum is situated.
The St. Charles Streetcar also passes by north of the Garden District after passing by Jackson Street. Along St. Charles Avenue, the Columns Hotel, the Romanesque Brown House (the largest building there), the Tara (a replica of Scarlett?s home in the famous movie ?Gone with the Wind?) and the Wedding Cake House famous for its layers of balconies and balustrades are just some of the superb structures to behold. Further along, the university grounds of Loyola and Tulane can be observed, while opposite them is the Audubon Park where the Audubon Zoo is situated.
The Carrollton Avenue is the next passageway for the streetcar and ends at Palmer Park before it heads back towards the Central Business District.