Dear Dr. Boli: Why did American cities give up on streetcars? —Sincerely, a Resident of the Trackless Midwest.
Dear Sir or Madam: Satan does not usually interfere directly in the affairs of men, preferring to use his formidable powers of persuasion to nudge us toward evil. It is a well-known principle in the infernal regions that an evil idea originating in the mind of the evildoer is a far greater victory than one implanted there by the demonic forces.
In the case of streetcars, however, Satan made one of the rare exceptions to his normal practice. The opportunity presented by the automobile was too great for him to resist; never was there a more fertile soil for the germination of sin. By whispering into the ears of transit authorities that streetcars were embarrassingly old-fashioned, Satan appealed to their executive vanity. At transit conferences across the country, executives who represented cities that had not yet converted to buses were laughed at, insulted, and subjected to childish pranks. Thus the evil was accomplished, and streetcars, which had threatened to turn American cities into urban Edens where men and women lived in harmony with the urban environment, vanished from American streets.
Six cities in the United States resisted Satan, however, and refused to abandon their streetcars altogether. Let their names be entered in the rolls of God’s elect: Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, New Orleans, and San Francisco.