The Trolley and Daily Life
American cities in the 19th century were walking citiesmost residents worked and shopped close to where they lived. But as electric streetcar (trolley) systems were built in the 1880s, 1890s, and early 1900s, cities expanded. Many white city dwellers moved to new trolley suburbs; streetcars made it easy to travel greater distances to work, shop, and socialize in town. City streets and the patterns of peoples daily lives changed.
In Washington, streetcars turned outlying areas into new neighborhoods. Real estate developers often built streetcar lines to promote new suburban communities. Their success in selling the suburbs to middle-class workers changed neighborhood life and the rhythms of the city. The trolley also connected Washingtonians to the citys largest public market. There, shoppers could find produce and meat from regional farms, fruits and vegetables from across the country, as well as a few productssuch as bananasfrom overseas.