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1919 Street & Trolley System

Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas 

2006 Trolley System

The Street Railway as a factor in the Progress and Development of the City

It has made Suburban Residence possible, added enormously to Estate values, and promoted the Health, Happiness, and General Well Being of the Community.

Most people who pay a nickel for a ride on a street car do not, perhaps fully realize what a progressive street car system really means to a city, to what extent it is responsible for the development of a city nor what an important factor it is in making values both for the profit of individuals as well as the community. The average person is so accustomed to the convenience of the street car that he accepts it as a matter of course without a thought of it as one of the most potent influences in city building, progress and wealth - and to this may be added health.

About 40 years ago the first street car made its appearance on the streets of Little Rock. It wasn't much of a car, compared with modern standards, but it was a beginning of a system of transportation without which the city could not have achieved its present standing among cities. The car itself was a small affair and the motive power a single mule per car. The driver was also a conductor. It was not uncommon for the car to get off the track and frequently the load was too much for the mule power, especially in negotiating steep hills. In such cases the male passengers were called upon to assist in putting the car back on the track or push while the mule pulled up the hill. The service could scarcely be called "rapid transit" but it was at least more rapid and less tiresome than walking to and from town and so, poor as such service would be considered today, the one mule car became one of the early factors in developing Little Rock. The car ran on Main street and Rock street. The East side was then the residence district for the more wealthy citizens and with the advent of the street car, values of residence property convenient to the car line at once advanced. Unless there are transportation facilities to take business men from the business district to their homes there would be no suburban development. In every city the routes traversed by street cars are marked by rapid building up of residence property.

Rapid Development of Suburbs

Take for example Pulaski Heights. When the street railway was built to Forest Park in 1914, there were just three residences beyond the School for the Deaf. Property al along out there was acre property. But just as soon as the street cars began to run, hundreds of acres were subdivided into building lots and today many thousands of people have elegant homes along practically the whole line, some six miles from the business district. But for the street railway that whole district would still be an acre property.

But that is only one example. When work began on the South Main Line 23d street was not paved nor even graded. As late as 1914, practically all the property south of 23d street, was in fields where men went squirrel hunting. Today that section is all closely built up and contains some of the most imposing residences in the city. And it built up so rapidly that it became necessary to extend the line from 23d and Ringo south to 28th street, thence to Arch and on Arch to 23d, thus forming a loop and serving a territory altogether in acre property only a few years ago. Fifteen years ago, the Highland line ran only to Highland Park and all was woods beyond the park. The park itself has long since disappeared and its former location is forgotten by many. The whole territory for a mile or more beyond is thickly settled and as a result not only was the line extended but a branch built known as the South Highland, extending to the penitentiary.

Nine Lines in Operation

And so development has gone on until there are now nine lines, namely, South Main, Fifteenth, Pulaski Heights, East Ninth, West Ninth, East Fourteenth, Highland, South Highland and Biddle, and they are equipped with modern cars, electrically heated in cold weather and with commodious open cars on some lines in summer. And with the street car line has gone the electric lighting wires to all parts of the city giving at once the conveniences of rapid transportation and lighting, making suburban property attractive to home seekers and advertising the city abroad to prospective settlers. Seventeen years ago there was one merchant who had an electric sign. Today Main street is a blaze of light and not only Main street but parallel and cross streets in the business district and, incidentally, far away from the business center. In addition to the electric signs are the brilliant electrolier standing lights used in front of stores in the business district and in front of theaters and churches in the residence parts of the city. This combination of lighting, in addition to the city street lighting, has given Little Rock the reputation of being one of the best lighted cities of its size in the United States.

How Values are Made.

Swift in Gulliver's Travels says: "And he gave it as his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country than in the whole race of politicians put together."

Apply this truth to the street railway and, considered rightly, the results of its service to the material, mental, moral, religious and health interests of the city, and in part, to the whole state, far transcend what the average citizen imagines. Attention has been called of the vast increase in values of property due wholly to transportation facilities. The thousands of acres of real estate throughout Pulaski Heights and the west end alone, which have become thickly populated residence property, have not alone made individual owners rich but added millions in taxes to the general coffers of city, county, and state. Thus such development has been shared in my the whole population. Without transportation suburban property would not have been developed nor would the development have been so rapid but for the added convenience of electric lighting which accompanied it.

Then the company has added to the material prosperity of the city by furnishing power for manufacturing purposes. It has added to the health of the people by enabling them to seek the pure air and breathing spaces of suburban homes away from the atmosphere of business and by furnishing the people with amusement parks. It carries people to the theater, the ball park, school to church - in short there is no element of progress which the street railway company has not helped to develop. It has given liberally to every public enterprise and its officials have given as freely of their time and labor to plans for the furtherance of the prosperity, health, and general welfare.

People get more for their money.

It is not contended that the street railway is a philanthropic enterprise entered into alone for the public good. But it is true that from the beginning the company, with every improvement, has given the people more and more for their money from the time when for five cents a limited ride on a one mule car was given, until now when, by a system of transfers, one may ride in modern, rapidly running cars, from the extreme limits of one line to the extreme limits of any other line, still for one five cent fare. These are things to remember when one is inclined to criticize and undervalue the service rendered. It must be added, too, that the charter provision requiring the company to pave between its tracks and for two feet on each side has led to many miles of paving, which would not have otherwise been done. And barring the unavoidable pressure put upon the equipment by the locating of Camp Pike and Picron here, the service has been uniformly excellent, far better than in many cities much larger.

The Little Rock Railway & Electric Company has been established under that name since 1903, being a consolidation of the Edison Electric Light and Power Company and the Little Rock Traction & Electric Company. Its officers are: D.H. Cantrell, President; A. Brizzolara, vice-president and treasurer; Charles J. Grififth, general manager; W.J. Tharp, secretary and auditor; R. Eick, purchasing agent; A.R. Koonce, superintendent railway department; R.B. Grimmett, assistant to Mr. Koonce; P.T. Phillips, superintendent, electric department; R.J. Brown, commercial manager; Elmer Schoeggen, assistant attorney; Charles T. Roland, claim agent; W.H. Curtis, master mechanic; A.P. Singer, engineer; L.F. Griffith, assistant superintendent, meter and line department, and T.A. Wright, publicity manager.