Trolleys of the Capital District

This is the last trolley to run in Albany in August 1946.

This is the last trolley to run in Albany in August 1946. Submitted Photo

— In the Capital District, trolleys didn’t just get people from here to there; they created the suburbs by making it possible to get in and out of the cities with ease.

“They created the suburbs of Albany, Schenectady and Troy by expanding their lines, what they called inner-urban lines. Three main trolley lines connected Saratoga, Lake George, Amsterdam and Gloversville,” said DiCarlo.

In fact, those trolley tracks that first piqued DiCarlo’s interest in front of his childhood home were part of an inner-urban line.

“When I first found those tracks, I was thinking there was a railroad on my street. … It was not a local line that goes around downtown, it’s what connects the other cities around it,” said DiCarlo, who said local rides cost about a nickel and inner-urban rides about a quarter. “Because of that trolley line, Saratoga probably got even more popular at the time because there was a way to get there from these other cities. … People were able to come from New York City on a train and then could easily go to Lake George or Saratoga on a trolley and that’s what they did. It definitely created the tourism you have in the Capital District.”

Despite all their functionality and convenience, trolleys came with their fair share of troubles, too.

“In 1901, there was a crash on the Fourth of July that killed 14 people in Gloversville and at the time, that was one of the first big transportation disasters in the U.S. and made headlines all over the country,” said DiCarlo. “Albany had a trolley strike in 1922 that made it necessary to bring in the National Guard to put down the protests and the riots that the strikers created and people were actually killed in Albany.”

DiCarlo became the trolley guru by abandoning research books (he could only find three books on trolleys, anyway) and going right to the source: riders.

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