Join Club

Back to the Future: Arlington’s Streetcar Lines, Circa 1900

Before there was such a thing as Crystal City — when South Eads Street was a recently-filled canal known as Jefferson Avenue — a state-of-the-art transportation option helped spur the development of what is now the Aurora Hills neighborhood.

That transportation option was the electric trolley. More than 100 years later, Arlington’s leaders are moving forward with a $200 million streetcar project that will stop in some of the same places as its long-forgotten predecessor.

Aurora Highlands Civic Association president Michael Dowell recently wrote about the area’s transportation history in the group’s monthly newsletter.

From 1843 to 1896, present-day Eads Street was actually a canal that connected with the famous C&O Canal by means of an elaborate aqueduct bridge over the Potomac. Then in 1896, the canal was deemed obsolete. It was filled in and an electric trolley line took its place.

From Dowell’s article:

In 1896, an electric trolley line was constructed along the former canal towpath. The new Arlington trolley line allowed the Mount Vernon Railway to offer continuous service between Washington DC, near Federal Triangle, all the way to Mount Vernon.

The new rail line was instrumental in enabling the development of our Aurora Hills neighborhood in 1910, as the trolley offered quick access for commuters headed into Washington DC. Our neighborhood had four stops along what was then called Jefferson Avenue: Four Mile Run, the Car Barn, 22nd Street, and 18th Street.

By the 1920s, bus transportation had become preferable to the trolley line and the last trolley rolled down Jefferson Avenue in early 1932. In 1934, Arlington County changed the street name to Eads Street (there were too many Jefferson Streets in Arlington County).

Ironically, the county’s proposed streetcar line, which will run along Columbia Pike and Crystal Drive, is intended to be a quicker, cleaner and more rider-friendly alternative to the bus routes that seemed preferable in the 1930s.

There were other streetcar lines in Arlington around the beginning of the century, as detailed in this Wikipedia article. The Fort Myer line, pictured, ran from Rosslyn, through Penrose (a community whose logo is a trolley) to present-day Nauck (Green Valley).

If this all sounds like history repeating itself, there’s one thing that seems especially unlikely to happen that time around. Unlike in 1906, the new streetcar project will probably not result in the development of an elaborate, transit-oriented amusement park in South Arlington.

Photos via Wikipedia and
(from the book “Old Dominion Trolley Too: A History of the Mount Vernon Line” by John E. Merriken)

Recent Stories

Good Monday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 10824 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

The Sun Gazette newspaper has not published new articles on its website since Friday and may have printed its last edition. Several sources tell ARLnow that the free weekly paper,…

Carjackings appear to be rising again in Arlington and across the D.C. area. An uptick between 2019 and 2020 spurred Arlington County Police Department to focus prevention efforts on robbery,…

Police and medics have been dispatched to Wakefield High School at least twice for students experiencing suspected substance abuse-related issues since Tuesday’s fatal overdose. The dispatches seem to point to…

Have you noticed a striking sculpture at Monroe Street and Wilson Boulevard? It’s the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington’s newest installation, _Make Your Mark_ , by Arlington artist, Adam Henry. This sculpture celebrates MoCA Arlington’s rebranding and brings the museum’s energy outdoors.

On February 11, come inside when the museum’s galleries reopen with two new exhibitions: Rebecca Rivas Rogers: Grey View and Crisis of Image.

Grey View, in the Wyatt Resident Artist Gallery, is an homage to “gray” and a snapshot of the artist’s process. Consisting of photographs, collage, and a site-specific installation, this show is an outgrowth of Rivas-Rogers’ visual investigations into places you see on your way to somewhere else.

On the main level, Crisis of Image features artists who seek equity in today’s saturated visual world by developing new methods related to the production of images.

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Its February and you said you would start your journey to a healthier you, last month! If you are struggling and do not know how or what to do to get started, we are here to keep you accountable. At Aspire Higher Training, we offer 1-1 Personal Training for ALL fitness levels, Semi-Private Group Training, Sport Specific Training and Injury Prevention/Post-Physical Therapy Training. Monica and her team of trainers are available across Arlington, Va.

If you don’t have access to a gym, no problem, we are located in South Arlington, but if you want to workout from your home gym, we also offer that flexibility. We make it as convenient as possible to ensure your success. Before getting started, we offer a free 15-30 minute consultation call to see how we can best help you towards your health and fitness goals. Let’s get started on your health and fitness goals today by setting up a call at your earliest convenience:

Submit your own Announcement here.

Valentine Pop-Up at George Mason University

Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village

Standup Comedy Showcase Starring Matt Ruby (Comedy Central)

Dead Horse Comedy Productions brings together top comedians from the DMV and beyond for a live standup comedy show!

Matt Ruby, Headliner

Matt Ruby is a comedian, writer, and filmmaker from New York City. His comedy has been filmed by


Subscribe to our mailing list