Photos of 1940s D.C. Streetcar Life

With all the buzz about whether the H Street streetcar will happen or not, we thought it would be a great idea to share some images of what streetcar living was like back in the middle of the 20th century. It’s been over 50 years since D.C. has had operating streetcars, but it’s within the realm of possibility that we might see them again soon. Maybe.

Below is an image of a woman learning how to become a streetcar operator in June of 1943.

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Washington, D.C. An instructor of the Capitol Transit Company teaching a woman to operate a one-man streetcar
Washington, D.C. An instructor of the Capitol Transit Company teaching a woman to operate a one-man streetcar

Source: Library of Congress

Here is another great shot of a young woman taking fares on a streetcar in 1943.

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Washington, D.C. Hattie B. Sheehan, a streetcar conductor for the Capitol Transit Company
Washington, D.C. Hattie B. Sheehan, a streetcar conductor for the Capitol Transit Company

Source: Library of Congress

Here is another image from 1943.

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Washington, D.C. Miss Frances Lewis, the motorman of a two-man streetcar
Washington, D.C. Miss Frances Lewis, the motorman of a two-man streetcar

Source: Library of Congress

Here is an image of some serious track repair happening downtown at 14th and G St in July of 1941.

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Repairing streetcar tracks, Fourteenth and G Streets
Repairing streetcar tracks, Fourteenth and G Streets

Source: Library of Congress

Below are a few images of people riding the streetcars in the late 1930s and 1940s.

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People in streetcar in August of 1938
People in streetcar in August of 1938

Source: Library of Congress

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Woman riding streetcar in 1943
Woman riding streetcar in 1943

Source: Library of Congress

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Riding the streetcar in 1943
Riding the streetcar in 1943

Source: Library of Congress

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Riding the streetcar in 1943
Riding the streetcar in 1943

Source: Library of Congress

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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Calvert Street Bus Turnaround in 1948

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  • Ellen

    I’m really disappointed that the street car is running into problems.
    I can really see how much I’d enjoy them.

  • Purrsey

    The San Francisco streetcar program has an original DC Transit car. I always hope that I get to ride it. The SF program has streetcars from all over the world.

  • John Clampitt

    Having been born in D.C. and living there until I married in 1957, I rode the streetcars all over N.W. Washington. As a pre-teen, my buddy, Earl Wolfe and I would board the car at 3rd and Sheridan Street, ride to the terminal at 14th St., transfer and go downtown to the movies on F Street. When we came out, we would go to the Planter’s Store on F St., buy a box of broken cashews (they cost a lost less than the whole ones) and return home, sitting in the rear of the streetcar and consuming the cashews. Can you imagine a parent letting a kid do that today in D.C. or any other city? How times have changed!