Dept. of Transportation
Metro Transit Division

King Street Center
201 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98104
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Milestones 1890s

Photo of Seattle Electric Railway Company trolley with motormen, @1890
Seattle Electric Railway Company trolley with motormen, @1890.
Photo courtesy Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI).


  • The Woodland Park Railway begins serving the suburb of Fremont and wilderness near Green Lake. The line is discontinued in 1899, and then resurrected by the Seattle Electric Company in 1906.
  • The city of Seattle grants David Denny a franchise for a streetcar line along the eastern shore of Lake Union on the condition that he build a bridge at his expense across the lake.


  • The North Seattle Cable Railway extends service to the top of Queen Anne hill. The line is electrified in 1900, and a counterbalance system is added to help streetcars up and down the steep grade.
  • Rainier Avenue Electric Railway builds the first true interurban railroad, spurring development of the largely agricultural Rainier Valley.


  • Seattle is now served by 48 miles of streetcar lines and 22 miles of cable car lines.


  • There are 22 separate streetcar lines operated by private entrepreneurs within Seattle. Most of the street railways were built and operated to serve new real estate developments. Many of today's buses still follow routes established by the first streetcar and interurban lines.

1850 1870 1880 1890 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000

Updated: Dec. 11, 2002