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Glen Echo in Montgomery County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Trolley Parks In America

 
 
Trolley Parks In America Marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, October 27, 2007
1. Trolley Parks In America Marker
Inscription. The Early Trolley Park. In 1888 in Richmond, Virginia, Frank Sprague revolutionized American travel with his invention of the electric trolley. A new fast and economical transportation dawned. Suburban communities, like Glen Echo, soon opened up along many trolley lines. Along with a revolution of transportation came a new means of entertainment, the trolley park. Trolley parks were usually owned and operated by the transit company. They provided an incentive for evening and weekend travel. At first they included just a picnic grove, dance hall, and swimming/boating area. Admission was free. Families would go to these parks and the trolley companies made a handsome profit. To encourage family trips, trolley fares for children were lowered and alcohol was banned from the parks.

Evolution of the Trolley Park. The use of trolleys exploded in America in the early 20th century. By the time of WWI trolley companies employed over 100,000 workers and became the 5th largest industry in America. With the immense success of the trolley, these picnic parks began to modernize. After the introduction of the ferris wheel at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, almost every trolley park began to construct more attractions to draw crowds—ferris wheels, shooting galleries, carousels, penny arcades, fireworks displays and free
Trolley Parks In America marker with the A Trolley Returns To Glen Echo marker image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, October 27, 2007
2. Trolley Parks In America marker with the A Trolley Returns To Glen Echo marker
concerts. By 1919 there were over 1,500 trolley parks in America. In the Washington area, the list of amusement parks included Glen Echo Park, Chevy Chase Lake, Marshall Hall, Suburban Gardens, Bethesda Park, Braddock Heights and Luna Park in Arlington. In a 1902 Cosmopolitan article, Day Allen Willey wrote, “the expression ‘trolley-park’ may not have yet come into common use, but no exploration of its meaning is necessary. The oldest of the trolley parks has been in existance but for a few years, yet today these resorts are to be found in the outskirts of nearly every city in the land.” It is estimated that within the first three years operation attendance at the Trolley Parks averaged 400,000 people per season. However, the glory didn’t last long, and the parks experienced an enormous decline during the Depression. The number of parks dwindled to around 400.

WW II, Automobiles and Disneyland. The remaining parks provided a welcome diversion from World War II. After the war, trolley parks faced a new competitor, the theme park. The first theme park, Disneyland, opened in California in 1955 and had five different themed areas designed to transport visitors to another time and place. The theme park encountered huge success. Along with Disneyland, the trolley parks had to compete with the ever growing automotive industry. When cars started to become
Trolley Car beneath the Glen Echo Park sign image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, October 27, 2007
3. Trolley Car beneath the Glen Echo Park sign
This is a PCC (Presidents Conference Committee) car. Restoration of this car is underway.
more readily available to the middle class, trolleys were no longer needed for transportation. The trolley parks that had provided entertainment were no longer needed either. Now people could transport themselves to their own preferred entertainment. Today there are only 11 trolley parks still in operation in the U. S. but the memory of their glory days lives on in stories, pictures, and preserved parks like our own Glen Echo.
 
Location. 38° 57.999′ N, 77° 8.288′ W. Marker is in Glen Echo, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker can be reached from MacArthur Boulevard ¼ mile from Goldsboro Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Glen Echo MD 20812, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Glen Echo From Past to Present (within shouting distance of this marker); 1921 (within shouting distance of this marker); Glen Echo Civil Rights Protest (within shouting distance of this marker); Glen Echo’s Art Deco Arcade (within shouting distance of this marker); Glen Echo Park c. 1930 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Glen Echo Park Yurts (about 300 feet away); Glen Echo Park: Protest Years 1960 (about 300 feet away); Glen Echo Park: Spanish Ballroom c. 1943 (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Glen Echo.
 
Related markers.
Popcorn Stand and Arcade Entrance image. Click for full size.
By Tom Fuchs, April 8, 2006
4. Popcorn Stand and Arcade Entrance
Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
 
Also see . . .
1. 100 Years of Capital Traction: The Story of Streetcars in the Nation's Capital. Book by Leroy O. King Jr available on Amazon.com (Submitted on May 7, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.) 

2. Capital Transit: Washington's Street Cars, The Final Era, 1933 - 1962. Book by Peter Kohler available on Amazon.com (Submitted on May 7, 2008, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.) 
 
Categories. EntertainmentRailroads & Streetcars
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 29, 2007, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. This page has been viewed 2,678 times since then and 53 times this year. Last updated on November 7, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 29, 2007, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.   4. submitted on April 27, 2006, by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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