Taking the St. Charles Avenue streetcar is a wonderful and inexpensive way to see the Garden District and Uptown. You'll pass stately mansions (and the house used in Real World New Orleans), the campuses of Loyola and Tulane Universities, and the Audubon Zoo.
If you take it all the way to Riverbend, you'll get to see how the backs of the old wooden seats -- see photo -- flip to the other side for the return trip.
Pick up the streetcar on the west side of Canal Street. If you plan to go back and forth a lot, buy a pass at the Whitney Bank -- it saves you the trouble of rummaging around in your pocket for change. Plus, flashing a pass makes you feel like a resident. :)
New Orleans has three streetcar lines that run along the riverfront, St. Charles Street, and Canal Street. The cost is $1.25 per ride each way, though one, three, and five day unlimited passes are sold for $5, $12 and $20 respectively. The schedules and operating hours vary, with the Riverfront line running from about 7:30am to 10:30pm, and the St. Charles Line running 24/7. The streetcars are operated by the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA).
New Orleans Streetcars (not trolleys!) have a long history. This city was the first west of the Appalachian Mountains to implement a passenger rail system, and this is the oldest continuously operated street rail system in the world. Initially operated in January 1835, the city at one point had about 200 miles of streetcar lines before the move toward buses and private automobiles. The St. Charles Line was preserved due to its historic landmark status, but the Canal Street line was shut down for 40 years before service was resumed in 2004. The Riverfront line is a new route that began operation in 1988.
A tourist favorite is to take the St Charles line streetcar from its Canal Street Station through the Garden District. This route takes you past Audubon Park, the New Orleans Zoo, Tulane University, Loyola University, and several shopping and dining areas.
At Willow and Carrollton, there's a junction of tracks coming from the Carrollton Transit Barn a couple of blocks down Willow. The Barn is not really open to the public, but I was able to walk and an get a few photos.
I had been interested in seeing the barn because I had heard that the "Streetcar Named Desire" made famous by the Tennessee Williams Broadway play, and later movie staring Marlon Brando, had been actually traded to San Francisco in exchange for a Cable Car.
The swap was partly true. In the barn, I found a dilapidated California Street Cable Car among the rusty Streetcars waiting to be restored. However, while San Francisco did receive in exchange an authentic New Orleans Streetcar, it wasn't the actual "Street Car Named Desire". The original 1923 Perley Thomas streetcar from the St. Charles Avenue Line, No. 952, proudly bearing the name "DESIRE," remains parked in the New Orleans barn. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to verify this with my own eyes.
Incidentally, the Streetcar Barn itself is scheduled for improvements, I was told. Also, nearby are some nice homes and a couple of small nightclubs.
If you're staying in the French Quarter, as most do, be sure to take the St. Charles Street Car. You can take it to a destination - Like Audubon Park or the Camellia Grill, or just ride it for the sights. The big, beautiful old houses on St. Charles St. are fun to look at. And the occasional home still showing damage from Katrina is humbling.
Our ride was a little more interesting due to the fact that 2 street cars ahead of us had t-boned a truck that turned left onto the tracks just in front of the street car.
the st. charles streetcar is a fun and inexpensive way to go to the garden district and to carrollton. the st. charles streetcar line begins at canal street and terminates in carrollton. on st. charles ave. you will pass the robert e. lee memorial, beautiful antebellum homes, and there are stops at audubon park, tulane university, and the historic carrollton neighborhood. a fun thing thing to do in downtown new orleans.
You can't go to New Orleans and not ride on the historic street cars. For only $1.25 one way, you can get to just about anywhere in the city you need to go. The ride is slow and leisurely so you can enjoy the sites and jump off where ever you may see something that catches your eye. The original cars survived Katrina intact and honestly, trying to replace them would just not be possible and reproductions just wouldn't be the same. The conductors are very friendly and helpful about anything along the route. The St. Charles is the oldest and most historic route and a must ride. It traverses some of the most beautiful and historic real estate in New Orleans. It even passes Delmanico's, Emril Lagasse's famous restaurant.
New Orleans historic St. Charles Streetcar travels over 13 miles from Canal Street, through the Garden district, past Loyola and Tulane Universities and Audubon Park where it takes a right-hand turn at Riverbend to continue up Carrollton Avenue.
Originally called the Carrollton Railroad, St. Charles Streetcars carried passengers between the French Quarter and the resort town of Carrollton.
New Orleans St. Charles Streetcars, like the equally famous San Francisco Cable Cars, have been declared moving national historic landmarks. Streetcars have been running along St. Charles Avenue for over 165 years. oard the streetcar directly across Canal Street from Bourbon Street in the French Quarter at Canal and Carondelet streets.
Drivers don't call out stops so if you plan to get off for a walking tour of the Garden District, shopping at Riverbend or visiting Audubon Park, the Zoo or either Tulane or Loyola University you'll need to watch for your stop. Y
No this is not a picture of a celebration of the re-opening of the St. Charles Streetcar Line! This is a block-party on our street (Sept.3,2006) which dead-ends into the end of the line in Carrollton. (If you are interested in how things are going there will be a follow-up Tip under Customs). It is stated that the St. Charles trolley will be up and running by the end of 2007, but from the look of the progress on the street and the reports on the electrical deficiencies and lack of funding, I doubt it. They hope to have the downtown open from Canal Street to Lee Circle by Christmas (why bother?). A bus follows the streetcar route out to the Carrollton end, but it would be a very poor sightseeing substitute! If you want a trolley ride take the Canal St. car to City Park or Cemetaries, they are alternating destinations, so choose. The Museum of Art and its Sculptue Garden are open in the park (less than a half-mile walk from the end of the line). There is nothing more in City Park. It is another pathetic example of a need that has fallen through the funding cracks.
Post Katrina: the St. Charles streetcar line is not running yet. I often used this line to get to the Garden District. Don't despair, though. There is a bus that runs the same route (the #12 bus). The fares are free. I just checked the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority website states the RTA's New Orleans service will remain fare free at least through June 30, 2006.
Be sure to check the website for the lastest information and the lastest bus route schedules.
The bus stop can be found by crossing Canal St. and walk to St. Charles. While on St. Charles (I believe it was a block, two blocks maximum) you'll see a yellow "car stop" sign. The bus will pick up you there.
This is a streetcar of the historic St. Charles line. There are 34 olive-green electric cars which you can board at the intersection of Bourbon/Carondelet streets and Canal street and ride for 13.2 miles along the ''neutral ground'' of St. Charles and Carrollton through the CBD (Central Business District) and past antebellum mansions, around the Riverbend to Carrollton at Claiborne Avenue This is the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world - it has been in operation more than 150 years. The cars have mahogany seats, brass fittings and exposed ceiling light bulbs. Bob thinks the seats are just as uncomfortable as the Canal and Riverfront cars. Along the way are Loyola and Tulane universities, and the Audubon Zoo. We got off to go and have lunch at Uglesich's, and then after we rode down to the end and back, we got off at Lee Circle and went to the D-Day Museum.
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