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Pittsburgh Railways Company Records, 1872-1974, AIS.1974.29
Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

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What’s online

The Pittsburgh Railways Company online collection contains 111 images from 1872 through 1970 showing many styles and views of street railway cars owned by this company. Many Pittsburgh neighborhoods including the South Hills, Oakland, Downtown, Homewood, and Mt. Washington are depicted in the photographs. The images also document some of Pittsburgh’s inclined railroads such as the Mt. Oliver, Castle Shannon, and Knoxville Incline Planes.

Images that depict the various models of street railway cars and their development from horse drawn cars to electric railways were selected for this collection. Images of stations, street railway routes and lines, inclines, and train yards were chosen as well.

What’s in the entire collection

The collection, held by the Archives Service Center (ASC) at the University of Pittsburgh, comprises 2,262 images taken between 1872 and 1974. The collection is organized into eleven series, one of which contains the Snow Report -- a detailed account of the numerous traction companies consolidated to create the Pittsburgh Railways Company in 1902. The majority of the images in the collection exist as prints in various formats and sizes, a handful of which have been hand painted. Some prints in this collection were produced by Blaine S. Hays, A. Church Photographers, and Judge" of Good Pictures, Industrial Photographers. In addition to photographs, the collection also contains reports, appraisals, maps, ledgers, court proceedings, materials on labor relations, film, awards and histories of the Pittsburgh Railways Company.

About the Pittsburgh Railways Company

The Pittsburgh Railways Company was originally chartered in 1900 as the Southern Traction Company. It became the operating manager of 193 street railways properties owned or controlled by the Philadelphia Company, Consolidated Traction, United Traction, and Southern Traction Companies in 1902. At this time these four companies were conflated into one entity, known as the Pittsburgh Railways Company. The Pittsburgh Railways Company was the largest provider of mass transit in the Pittsburgh area from its creation in 1902 to its demise in 1964.

Reaching its heyday in 1918, the company transported over 600,000 passengers daily and boasted 606 miles of track and 99 trolley routes to its name. Because if its peculiar conglomerate business structure, the Pittsburgh Railways Company grappled with financial difficulty from its genesis. Despite its problems, Pittsburgh Railways placed into service the first 100 Presidents' Conference Cars (PCC) trolleys in 1936 and 1937. The automobile’s revolution of the transportation industry began in the early nineteen hundreds, but after World War II it started to affect transit service, ridership, and revenue for the Pittsburgh Railways Company. Fare increases, intense competition with other independent lines, labor strikes, and obsolescence of equipment eventually led to the dissolution of the Pittsburgh Railways Company. The Port Authority of Allegheny County assumed control of the electric trolley network in 1964 and the remaining companies of the Pittsburgh Railways Company were combined into the Pittway Company.

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