The Streetcar Era in Hyattsville

Photo of streetcar in Riverdale Park in the 1950s courtesy of Flickr user Beltsville Girl.

Though Hyattsville was incorporated in 1886, it didn’t really become a city until 1899.

That was the year the electric streetcar lines from Washington, D.C., finally reached Hyattsville.

A nice summary of this historical development can be found in the “Hyattsville Historic District Style Guide,” created by architecture students at the University of Maryland:

During the 1890s, private companies began building streetcar lines to carry streetcars out from the city to the railroad suburbs of Prince George’s County. The City and Suburban Railways laid tracks from Washington, D.C., to as far as Mount Rainier (two miles south of Hyattsville) by 1897. In 1899, the tracks finally reached Hyattsville.

Now there was a convenient method for the middle class to commute from Washington to Hyattsville. The streetcars brought a wide range of Washingtonians to the small city, from the working class to the upper-middle class, with the majority being middle class. Riders from Hyattsville could buy their tickets at Well’s Drugstore, located near the streetcar stop at Rhode Island Avenue and Crittenden Street, and ride the streetcar, which ran fairly parallel to the B&O rail tracks, into D.C. in a matter of minutes.

The guide breaks Hyattsville’s development into two major phases: the streetcar era from 1899 to 1929 and the automobile era from 1930 to today. But the streetcars actually ran until 1958, when they were replaced by regional buses.

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