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‘Old School’ Public Transportation Twin City Streetcars Date to 1867

Bloomington streetcars, 1867.

The week of September 2, 2015 marked 148th anniversary of the first official run of the Bloomington-Normal streetcar system. It was on September 6, 1867, that the Bloomington & Normal Horse Railway inaugurated its first line, which connected Downtown Bloomington with Uptown Normal. As implied in the system’s original name, the earliest streetcars were pulled by horses. The system was electrified in 1890, and a network of lines eventually reached into residential neighborhoods in both communities. The end of local streetcar service came in mid-December 1936.

The view here is of the east side of the Courthouse (now Museum) Square in downtown Bloomington sometime in the first decade of the twentieth century. Just imagine if the Twin Cities had such a streetcar system in operation today!

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp is the Librarian at the McLean County Museum of History

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