Evolution of the Twin City Rapid Transit Streetcar System (1880-1954)


Based on the data used in

Xie, Feng and David Levinson (2010) How Streetcars Shaped Suburbanization: A Granger-Casality Analysis of Land Use and Transit in The Twin Cities.Journal of Economic Geography 10(3), pp. 453-470


This article presents a Granger causality analysis of the coupled development of population and streetcars in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul Historic residence and network data were assembled for 1900–1930, and linear cross- sectional time-series models were estimated at both a tract and block level using these data. It is found that, in contrast with transportation systems that were expanded in response to increased demand, the rapid expansion of the streetcar system during the electric era has been driven by other forces and to a large extent led land development in the Twin Cities. The main forces that have driven this process include technological superiority, monopoly, close connections with real estate business and people’s reliance on the streetcar for mobility. Proximity to the streetcar is found to be a crucial factor that determines the distribution and development of residences: it is observed that residential density declines with the distance from streetcar lines, and significantly drops beyond a walkable distance; it is also observed that gaining a closer access to streetcar lines within 800m (about a half mile) predicts the increase in residential density to a significant extent.

3 thoughts on “Evolution of the Twin City Rapid Transit Streetcar System (1880-1954)

  1. Alex

    A nitpick that likely has no effect on the correlation found in the study, but the streetcar did in fact go through to Hennepin on Lake rather than terminate at Grand as depicted here.

  2. Sam NewbergSam Newberg

    Wow, interesting how the built-up areas clearly correlated with streetcar lines well in to the 1920s, even longer. This was predictable because streetcar lines were also landowners and developers of land along lines, but also because there weren’t many other ways to get around.

    It wasn’t until the 40s that development occurred beyond 1/2 mile of lines with any consistency. Clearly this was due to construction of major roadways and early highways, like the Highway 100 beltway, etc.

    Very cool!

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