Cable-car slots in Washington, D. C.

I’ve seen some news photos, and other kinds, of the area around the Washington Monument, showing a pavement with a slot in it, like the slot that runs down the streets in San Francisco between the support rails for the city’s cable-car lines. Is this the same thing? I thought the cable-car system in Washington was abandoned many years ago. Or is it for something else? :confused:

The cable cars were abandoned years ago ( long before my time ), but if I remember correctly, the rails are still in existence because they are covered by some type of historical preservation law that exists in DC.

There is actually a museum dedicated to Washington’s Street cars (aka trolleys). Lots of recc. readings & links (probably TMI)

First, I don’t believe DC ever had “cable cars;” DC had trolleys, but they were electric, and were not propelled, like the SF cable cars, by attaching themselves to an underground, moving cable.

Second, according to a map at the site that jimmmy has pointed us to, there were never any trolley lines in the immediate vicinity of the Washington Monument, so I’m not sure what you’re seeing in these news photos. Can you link to one somewhere?

Finally, AFAIK, there’s no historic preservation law in DC regarding the old trolley tracks. The only time I’ve ever seen them is when the asphalt on a street starts breaking down (like at the end of a tough winter like the one we’ve just had!), and the old rails start reappearing.

It’s just a vague thought on my part, but I believe I’ve seen slots in pavement around some of the national monuments, and I believe they’re there so that temporary fencing can be installed quickly and easily, to provide crowd control when an event of some sort is going on, or to actually fence off the monument at night, when it’s closed. Just a WAG.

I’ve seen old trolley car tracks around Chicago that are sunk unto the pavement ar are in fact “slots”. Tracks don’t have to rise above the pavement, they can be built in to it.

The Cable Car in North America , George Hilton.
I think “historical preservation” only comes into play for those tracks running through Georgetown ( quaint historical streets that will rip out a muffler in a heartbeat ).

In SF, there is a three mile long moving wire rope that runs beneath the street. The cable car grips this wire and the wire pulls the cable car along the street. Electricity is not involved at all. The lights on SF cable cars operate from an on-board battery.

Washington, DC, had an ordinance that forbid overhead wires within the city limits. At the city limits, the trolleys would lower their poles and attach a thing to the trolley. The electric curent was just below the street and the streetcar had to reach below the surface for electrical power. This is not a cable car.

In Georgetown, N Street still has the exposed trolley tracks for a block or two between Georgetown University and Wisconsin Avenue. This is the only example of still-exposed trolley tracks in DC that I’ve ever seen. This section of N Street is unsurfaced and is made of old bare bricks—with tracks running down the middle. As to why they’ve never surfaced the road there, perhaps the residents prefer it that way—to discourage outsiders from traveling on “their” street. Just a guess. Any Georgetownites here?

Yeah, I wish I could afford to live in Georgetown…

DC had cable cars until approx 1900. The trollies came later.