Herbert H. Harwood here gives us a glorious picture of Baltimore in the heyday of the streetcar, combining the story of lines and equipment with a nostalgic view of Baltimore when so many of her people relied on street railways. From the late 1800s through World War II, streetcars transported Baltimore's population to and from work, play, and just about everything else. Bankers and clerks, factory workers and managers, domestics, schoolchildren, shoppers, all rode side-by-side on the streetcars regardless of economic status, level of education, or ethnic background. In a city where residences and schools were segregated, streetcar passengers sat wherever they could.
In addition to being a truly democratic institution, streetcars considerably influenced Baltimore's physical growth, enabling families to live farther than ever before from workplaces and thus encouraging early suburbs. Despite rising competition from the private automobile, streetcars remained the mainstay of Baltimore's public transportation system until after World War II, when gas rationing ended and family cars multiplied.
Environmentally friendly and for the most part comfortable and reliable, streetcars also had their peculiar charm. Today some people in Baltimore miss them.