Recent thoughts about cycling/e-cycling up the hill from Downtown to I-25 and points east have me looking back through some research I’ve been doing on the Albuquerque Street Car/Trolley 1905-1928.
My favorite newspaper find so far is a February 16, 1911 Albuquerque Morning Journal depiction of the very first run of the “Highlands” line. While just about all of us today think nothing of getting up the hill, (heck, you just press down on the accelerator a bit, no big deal), in 1911 an electric-powered street car running up from Downtown to even Edith Blvd., between Broadway and what is now I-25, was a BIG DEAL:
For those without time or tech/eyesight to read the above, here’s an excerpt declaiming just what a BIG DEAL this was:
Okay, maybe “Never was the launching…” is a bit of hyperbole, but here’s the 1911 point that we in car-centric 2022 need to fully consider: “Only the people who have cause to walk up and down ‘the hill’ several times a day can really appreciate what the new extension means.” The hill mattered greatly in 1911 and continues to matter greatly today for those of us not using a gas pedal (or, arguably, e-bike) to get up the damn thing.
As noted in the story, the Highlands Line ran:
- North up First from Central Ave.
- Turned east at Tijeras (Crossing)
- Waited for Santa Fe Railroad to vie the go-ahead to cross the at-grade tracks on Tijeras
- “Glided” up the hill to Edith, and
- Turned south all the way to the City Limits, which in 1911 were at Edith & Bell Ave., just north of what is now Avenida Cesar Chavez
My favorite bike ride in town takes in Edith Blvd. south along what was once the Highlands Line. As you might expect, real estate ads from the period were sure to include references to how close the street car line was to one’s new potential domicile. It’s fun to ride past the houses advertised:
And it would be fun to take a street car up the hill from Downtown to 902 South Edith, even if “people living along the route (did not) greet the car with enthusiastic acclaim.” More on the acclaim surrounding Albuquerque’s street car system, and its ultimate, inevitable demise, in periodic posts to come here at BB.