1895 : Last Horse-Drawn Streetcar in Detroit

November 9, 2021 all-day

Detroit’s last horse car made its farewell during ceremonies held on November 9, 1895, in Campus Martius; marking the end of the “antiquated system of transit” in Detroit. Just after 3 o’clock on a rainy Saturday afternoon, a large crowd gathered as car #10 of the Chene Street line—the last line to be equipped with electric cars — traveled down Monroe Avenue and turned onto Woodward Avenue where it was taken to the foot of the street. A banner was nailed to each side that read: “The last horse car.” As company officials and civilians jumped on board, the Pingree & Smith band played as the car was driven up Woodward Avenue where it stopped in front of City Hall; surrounded by a vast array of umbrellas.

After a speech by Vice-President Hutchins of the Citizens’ company, the car’s two horses were auctioned-off and the car then attached to an electric car and hauled up Woodward, while the crowd began removing pieces for souvenirs. By the time it had reached Mayor Pingree’s residence and returned to City Hall, the windows were smashed, the platform roofs broken down, the seats and advertisements removed, the doors pulled off, the roof had been removed, and holes had been knocked in the sides. Although not much was left but the car’s truck, everyone present had fun and really enjoyed the celebration.

These final words appeared in the Sunday, Nov. 10, 1895 edition of The Sunday News–Tribune:

“The car had practically passed into history. The trucks were left, but little more could be said about the car. It was beyond repair, but it was the last horse car which will ever be seen in Detroit, and even if its passing was marked with destruction it also recalled the fact that Detroit is becoming a great and more magnificent city and that the day for slow travel has passed from the City of the Straits.”

The Streetcar Companies vs. Mayor Pingree (1890—1900), Detroit Transit History, Part Two.

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