Streetcars on Rose Street In Kalamazoo; Now There’s a Throwback
I just love local history, and the Kalamazoo Public Library did it again to me today. A tweet made me say "wow", with a throwback to 1890 and a picture of Rose Street between Michigan Ave. and Bronson Park and two streetcars. My first thought was "take a look at that - no construction."
But this is the latest internet "rabbit hole" I've been down this week, discovering the history of street car service in Kalamazoo. I found a video on YouTube, hosted by Kalamazoo's Historic Preservation Coordinator, Sharon Ferraro, who explains streetcar service began in 1885, first with horse drawn streetcars and then the city electrified the service in 1893 to help get the streetcars up the hilly terrain of places like West Main Hill.
(City of Kalamazoo via YouTube)
Ferraro says the streetcars ran everywhere, to the factories on the east side of town, on all the main thoroughfares, south on Westnedge, Portage Road, West Main, North Street to Douglas, and southwest on Asylum Ave, which became Oakland Drive. At Oakland and Parkview was Oakwood Park, an amusement park complete with a roller coaster and rides and swimming. Yes, this amusement park was in the city limits.
There was a streetcar barn at Washington and Cameron Sts, where maintenance was done, including removing the windows in the summer and putting them back on in the winter. And that building lasted until it was torn down in 2018. There's a photo at the end of the video showing that what that building looked like before it was torn down.
Streetcars lasted until the start of the Great Depression, when a dispute over, what else, money, put them out of business and buses replaced them, in 1932.