By the late nineteenth century cityscapes and urban transportation were undergoing rapid change. The transit lines that previously relied partially or exclusively on horse-power were facing challenges from or being converted to electrical power. This article, published in the Street Railway Journal in 1898, examines the competition faced by horse-power at the outset of widespread urban electrification.
The article provides detailed operational numbers for the Metropolitan Street Railway Company in New York City, comparing the cost and efficiency of horse-drawn, cable and electrical lines. Although five years prior the entire street transport system of New York had been entirely horse-drawn, the article concludes that electric lines were fundamentally superior to horse-drawn and cable systems.
What does the cost data tell you about the economic advantages and disadvantages that horses had relative to other types of transportation? What non-economic advantages might electric and cable cars have offered relative to horse cars?
“Comparative Costs and Profits of Cable, Electric and Horse Railway Operation in New York City.” Street Railway Journal XIV, no. 11 (1898): 721-24.
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