The Tacoma Sun


Over Tacoma Then & Now: Trolley Court

By Morgan Alexander

In this series, the Sun explores the city from a thousand feet up. Drawing inspiration from a combination of the cheesy public television “Over..” series, Paul Dorpat’s long running Now & Then column in the Seattle Times, and the newly added Aerial Photography layer of the City of Tacoma’s govME mapping website, we look at different landmarks and neighborhoods to see how land use decisions have impacted our built environment.

This week: Trolley Court

Running diagonally from South 17th and Sprague to South 19th and Prospect is a section of land containing some of the last recognizable features of Tacoma’s original streetcar system.


By 1950, several more homes have been built and the former streetcar rail bed has grown over and is starting to disappear into the surrounding land.


By 1973, housing and a new church now occupy the north-eastern portion of the old streetcar line while the south-western portion is gradually being taken over by new development.


By 1998, it is nearly impossible to tell that a streetcar line had once bisected these two blocks. We also see single family homes along South 19th being replaced by larger commercial buildings.


Finally, in this 2006 image we see a temporary reappearance of the streetcar path. The path is a result of the land being cleared to make way for a new housing development. Today, with construction wrapped up, the development is being marketed as an “11 home community” called “Trolley Court.”


Previous Over Tacoma Then & Now: ASARCO/Point Ruston

published March 21st, 2008

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Andrew Becherer // Mar 21, 2008 at 8:57 am

    This is a really amazing piece of work. Hurrah for public access to aerial photography.

    Is govME the source of all the photographs?

  • 2 RR Anderson // Mar 21, 2008 at 9:00 am

    hyper interesting! keep it up!

  • 3 RR Anderson // Mar 21, 2008 at 9:01 am

    You could do a time lapse animation gif sometime

  • 4 TheGulag // Mar 21, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    This particular streetcar line was part of the Pacific Traction company’s trackage, one of four separate operators (three private, one public) of Tacoma’s traction lines during its heyday.

    I noticed this aerial landmark as well while working on a personal project of mine on Google Maps.
    If one wishes, you may take a peek here:,-122.419281&spn=0.11095,0.233459&t=h&z=12

    It highlights the Tacoma area streetcar system in the 1923 era (the age of my house). I originally planned on doing a couple different decades although I stopped working on it about a year ago.
    BY NO MEANS was\is it intended as a general public resource; its very rough and unfinished!

    You would be surprised how many visual cues there actually are still out there!

  • 5 Dave // Mar 26, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Gulag is right, there are a LOT of remaining evidence from the streetcar days, if one knows what to look for.

    Some of my favorite examples include evidence of rails left in the concrete paving around in the North Slope area, and also some streets that are oblique t0 the rest of the city’s grid pattern in the Manitou neighborhood. And there is also an especially wide radiused corner at 38th and Yakima.

    Can anybody add to my list?

  • 6 Dave // Mar 26, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Gulag, that map is AMAZING!!! Thank you, I **LOVE** it!!!

  • 7 Morgan Alexander // Mar 26, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    Andrew- Yes, govME is the source. And what a resource!

    TheGulag- That is a very cool project! Do you have any source photos of Tacoma streetcars or related developments? I’m gathering material for a book on Tacoma’s streetcars.

    Thanks RR!

  • 8 Paul Curtiss // Jun 6, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Very interesting! I am working ona project for the Lakewood Historical Society and the troley lines that extended into Lakewood. Would really enjoy some help with maps and pictures.

  • 9 Tristan Litke // Sep 30, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Nice Bro. Looks like things are coming along. Can a brother get a T? tristan

  • 10 Martin Johnson // Feb 13, 2011 at 3:45 am

    Does anyone know where the station was at Manitou Park? Which part of the park?

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