Skip to content

Streetcars Named Desire: Romanticizing Public Transport


Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Public transport is something we love to hate. It’s inconvenient, unreliable and most times pretty uncomfortable, but it can also be a beautiful, money-saving resource. 

Connecting with friends

Growing up in a big city, taking public transport was second nature, despite my mother’s concerns regarding the dangers of Chicago public transport sometimes it was necessary. Taking the train to school seemed like the epitome of independence, it was uncomfortable and dirty but somehow made me feel like an adult. Nothing could compare to meeting your friends on the train to school and talking about getting ice cream at the Mcdonald’s by the Lake stop. The ‘L’, the Chicago train system, became an accidental social hub. In later years the ‘L’ would become a fun nighttime adventure after a long night of running around the city. You can see everything from drunk bachelorette parties to old men doing yoga on the platform, if you happen to find yourself taking the midnight train from Old Town to Wrigleyville. One thing I have learned is that public transport results in some form of unconventional community wherever you go, and watching people do werid stuff on public transport is the best freindship bonding activity.

The “L” Chicago

Connecting with strangers

Although I love a strange Chicago public transport story, there is no public transport quite like the New Orleans Streetcar. It’s impossible to not romanticize life when you’re riding down St Charles in the streetcar. Those wooden seats turn into church pews as you roll through uptown and get lost in the rows of mansions surrounded by perfect front yards. It’s also impossible to get bored on the streetcar, someone either wraps you up in a bizarre conversation, or you eavesdrop on someone else’s bizarre conversation. That’s what makes it unique, in a place where we are supposed to ignore each other, and live in our own quiet spaces, we choose to connect. Sharing space and stories has become something I cherish. Perhaps it’s just southern charm that exudes from the people of New Orleans , or perhaps it’s the mysterious streetcar effect. 

View of Chicago River

All for the aesthetic

The streetcar has become a staple of New Orleans culture and somewhat of a tourist attraction. The old timey essence of mixed with the flickering lights and rumble of the car on the old tracks, makes the experience that much better. The same can be said for the ‘L’ system in Chicago, instagram models and 14 year old girls find the backdrop of the train floating across the Chicago river ideal. It would be hard to argue with them, as the train offers some of  the most unique and spectacular views of the city. Falling in love with the surrounding landscape is a uniquely public transport trait. Yes there is trash everywhere and a foul mix of the scent of cigarettes and sweat , but those instagram stories of the view will be unbeatable. For the true main character experience, listening to some sad music and taking in the city while you travel with strangers on a rainy day, you’ll feel like the love interest in a cheesy Rom-com. What a feeling! 

New Orleans streetcar

Saving money and more

The beauty of public transport is also who it attracts. The ability to get through an entire city for less than $3 leads to some interesting combinations. From celebrities to children, the bargain that is public transport can lead to unexpected trios like old woman reading, little kids coloring , and a very serious looking  business man all crowded into a very small space. You can’t get that kind of intimacy for that low of a price anywhere else. Not only is public transport good for the soul, but it’s good for the environment. Surprisingly, cramming a bunch of people going to the same place in what is essentially a long car, produces 95% less carbon dioxide than driving a car. Who would have thought just $2.50 can help you maintain a healthy and social lifestyle and save the world. 

Start romanticizing public transport;  save the earth and your soul.

Leave a Comment