TRANSIT IN MILWAUKEE - HISTORY
The River & Lakeshore City Railway Company began operating Milwaukee's first street railway in 1860. The original horse car route operated on Water Street in downtown Milwaukee. The River & Lakeshore City Railway Company was acquired by the Milwaukee City Railway Company in 1865, and this original line was dismantled in 1869.
The Milwaukee City Railway Company was one of four street railway companies, which eventually merged into the Milwaukee Street Railway Company. In 1890, the Wells-Wisconsin line of the West Side Railroad Company became the first line in Milwaukee to use electric streetcars. And in 1896, the Milwaukee Street Railway Company became The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company..
Map shows the street railway system as of 1892, as the separate companies were becoming consolidated into one.
Map shows the streetcar system as of 1917, along with the developing interurban lines. World War I was going on, and there was some stability with the streetcar system, with only a few extensions yet to be constructed. The interurban system was evolving, and buses had yet to be introduced.
After 1938, The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company would be prohibited from existing as a single company owning both the transit system and the electric utility. As a result, the transit system was restructured. The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Transport Company was formed to operate the transit system. That company was a subsidiary of the renamed electric utility, the Wisconsin Electric Power Co. By then, new motor bus routes were being created as extensions of the streetcar system, and some streetcar routes were replaced with trolleybuses. In addition, the interurban railway system had become well developed.
In 1947, Wisconsin Electric Power Co. became a separate new company from North American Co. Milwaukee's transit system changed names again in 1953, when it was sold and became the Milwaukee & Suburban Transport Corporation. Although buses continued to be lettered "The Transport Co." By then, most streetcar routes had been replaced with trolleybuses and motor buses. And over the next five years, all remaining streetcars would be phased out. Meanwhile, all interurban railways had been abandoned.
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