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I want to know why we can't attach span wires to buildings like they do in most of Europe. While the wires can be distracting at time, adding to the distraction would be additional structural poles between the curb and sidewalk to which the wires might be attached (which is how it ends up being done in most of the US). Getting rid of the poles does much to reduce the streetscape clutter and frees up a little extra sidewalk space, which can be critical in some areas where sidewalks space is so limited. So can anyone explain why they can attach span wires to buildings in most of Europe but not in the US?

Jeffrey Bridgman

I don't think they are too bad...
However I'm not sure if I'm a fan of having them attached to building. My home town in Japan has their streetcar alignment down the middle of the street with a single pole between the two track, minimizing the overhead space required. Check out the image I've linked to:
Streetcar in Okayama

It isn't the best picture, but all I could find right now.


For some reason, streetcar/trolley wires don't bother me much; I consider them part of the charm in places like SF or Vancouver where they are ubiquitous.

W. K. Lis

Attaching the wires to a building would be like attaching a clothesline to a house, or a shelf to a living room wall. Is it attaching to a brick veneer, drywall, or the studs or frame underneath. A brick veneer or drywall has little support and can be pulled out, why attaching it to the studs or frame of the building gives it more strength.


They do it in parts of San Francisco. The problem is that you need fairly narrow streets with large solid buildings on them for it to really be effective. With an abundance of free time and google street view, I'm sure you could find a few more examples in other cities.

Multimodal Man

Here is an eyebolt and pulloff attached to a building in Seattle for trolley buses.
2nd and Jackson: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Seattle,+WA&sll=47.653544,-117.411263&sspn=0.210916,0.441513&ie=UTF8&ll=47.599197,-122.331616&spn=0.003299,0.006899&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=47.599192,-122.331776&panoid=y2uF6usLghNwGGb3HSHIdg&cbp=12,178.76,,0,-22.8
I believe there are newer buildings to which trolley wire is attached in Seattle. What needs to happen to make this more common is to require that land owners on electric transit corridors provide an easement to their facade for eyebolts for new construction. This would get transit agencies out of having to buy the easement, which may be part of the reason that we don't attach to buildings as often. Buildings with big setbacks from the curb are probably another obstacle for reducing the number of poles required to hang wire.

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

Multi Man. Do you or anyone happen to know whether this was done for the
new streetcar line in Seattle? There are certainly large enough buildings
there, and the official line, at least, is that they depend on the
streetcar, so it would make sense ...

Multimodal Man

Benaroya Hall, built in 1998, is a more recent example. Note that there are poles but the guy wires to support the switch is attached to the facade of the music hall: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&q=Seattle,+Washington&sll=47.653544,-117.411263&sspn=0.210916,0.441513&ie=UTF8&cd=1&geocode=FW2j1gId9CC1-A&split=0&ll=47.608373,-122.336546&spn=0.001649,0.003449&t=h&z=18&layer=c&cbll=47.608464,-122.336628&panoid=8eWNbqYvL3oGuCJ-InUTwg&cbp=12,273.68,,0,-22.99
Apparently there was extensive use of eyebolts when Metro rebuilt the trolleybus infrastructure in the 70s but there has been less use since then. I don't believe the streetcar was attached to any building.

Multimodal Man

A better angle on an eyebolt on Benaroya Hall, Seattle: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&q=Seattle,+Washington&sll=47.653544,-117.411263&sspn=0.210916,0.441513&ie=UTF8&cd=1&geocode=FW2j1gId9CC1-A&split=0&t=h&layer=c&cbll=47.608661,-122.336805&panoid=Cac9dbr3OM9Vaip1i8BH_w&cbp=12,218.24,,0,-27.03&ll=47.60876,-122.336894&spn=0.001649,0.003449&z=18&iwloc=A


I know this comment is way late, but the reason why these work is because they use it to power the streetlights too. Makes the whole system flow better. San Francisco has huge streetlights where their busses run, and it is a colossal waste! I prefer this in Vienna, its a design city.

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the firm

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