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Aaron Priven

A search for "tram,streetcar,trolley" shows trolley with nothing until a sudden rise in 1890 to a very high peak in 1915 or so (about twice as high as the highest peak for "tram"). Then it falls pretty rapidly -- dipping under "tram" briefly around 1930, then rising again to be at just above the same level as "tram" from 1940 to 2000.

Hamilton Transit History

From what I've read, originally it was spelled 'street car', or more simply 'car' it then became 'electric street car' or 'electric car' It wasn't until 'car' became synonymous with 'automobile' that the word 'streetcar' really appeared.

Cap'n Transit

I found that tramway, interurban, streetcar, freeway all peaked at about 0.0002%.

Tessa

I think the train and car search is quite interesting: http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/graph?content=train%2Ccar&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3

As is when I searched King and Queen, though not transit related, with king going way out of style over the last 200 years. =)

Thanks for the link. It's a neat tool.

Bob Davis

I was intrigued by the apparent scarcity of "streetcar" uses before 1940. I noticed that "tram" was more widely used, I would presume that most of the books it was found in were British (or in British-influenced areas such as Australia). Here in the US the term "trolley" or "trolley car" was more common. My mother was from Massachusetts and she referred to the large suburban/interurban cars that passed our home on the Pacific Electric line as "streetcars". There's also the thought that things that were part of everyday life might not be mentioned in books as much as they would be in casual speech.

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