Remember When: The Trolley Of Main Street


    Trolleys, also known as streetcars or cable cars, became a popular method of public transportation in the late 1800s.Throughout the 1880s, 1890s and early 1900s trolley systems became popular across America. The installation of trolleys made traveling to work or stores easier for residents.

    Installing trolley tracks on Main Street. Picture taken looking east on lower Main Street in 1907. (Courtesy of The History Center, Port Washington Public Library)

    Trolleys were not only being built in cities like Washington D.C. and San Francisco, they were popping up in suburban towns as well. On Long Island, a trolley system was built in 1907 that connected Mineola, Roslyn and Port Washington.
    A Port Washington community magazine that was published by a local resident named Henry K. Landis was called Plain Talk and the magazine often featured information about the popular trolley. The Port Washington Library’s History Center Archives has old copies of Plain Talk magazine.

    Conductor Fox and Motorman Olsen standing in front of the trolley in 1913. (Courtesy of The History Center, Port Washington Public Library)

    In Vol. two, No. 24 of Plain Talk, published on Nov. 23, 1912, the magazine discussed the growing population of Port Washington and how the schools were becoming overcrowded. The magazine wrote, “Rather than put one class in the basement, the pupils are sent by trolley to Flower Hill School.”
    In Vol. four, No. 6, published on March 14, 1914, the magazine wrote, “Recent storms interfered with the trolley services to such an extent that our high school basketball team could not get to Glen Cove on Feb. 28 to play the high school team.”

    View of Main Street looking east taken in the 1930s. Remains of the trolley tracks can be seen on the street. (Courtesy of The History Center, Port Washington Public Library)

    The trolley was a vital method of transportation in the town and aided working residents, students and everyone in-between. The trolley was in use from 1908 to 1920. By the mid 1920s and early 1930s the trolley tracks were no longer in use and automobiles became more popular among the people. Main Street of Port Washington continued to be busy and bustling with activity throughout the 1900s and is now the home of many popular restaurants and stores frequented by the residents of Port Washington.

    View of Main Street looking east taken February 2022. (Photo taken by Julie Prisco)