For the past year or so, my and Juan's friend Eric Banghart has talked a lot about streetcars. He became our go-to friend for anything about the streetcar after he started an internship with CRA/LA, where he worked closely with community leaders, business people, and politicians on the Bringing Back Broadway initiative. Bringing Back Broadway turned into LA Streetcar Inc., a non-profit org that will lead - get this - the development of a streetcar to connect the vibrant shopping district along Broadway to other parts of downtown Los Angeles.
I'm really excited to introduce you to LA Streetcar Inc.'s new website, which just launched today. Eric helped write a lot of the content on the website. His talent as a writer shows in the website's cogent explanations of what, exactly, LA Streetcar seeks to do and a rundown of Streetcar 101.
I know that Juan and I have talked a lot about a subway and other transportation initiatives, but we think that a streetcar has an important role in LA's transportation network as well. Once upon a time, LA had one of the most extensive streetcar networks in the world. The streetcar was integral to commerce in many parts of LA, including along Broadway in downtown.
With the dissolution of the streetcar network came drastic changes to the LA urban landscape. Many parts of the city that thrived with the streetcar went into economic decline for a long time. And the proliferation of automobiles led to in-fill of one sort - areas that had gone undeveloped in the era of the streetcar were snapped up for housing, which in a way also sealed LA's fate as an auto-dominated metropolis.
Streetcar supporters see the return of the streetcar as a catalyst to revitalize the Broadway corridor, which has 12 historic theaters (and a lot of empty commercial space.) The streetcar will also connect Broadway to other parts of downtown. And people are more likely to ride a form of transit on a fixed right-of-way - it's reliable, you know where it goes and where it stops, and so on.
Anyway, congratulations, Eric, on the launch of LAStreetcar.org!