While only around for a relatively short period of time, the Bryant Avenue streetcar expanded Minneapolis into a greater metropolitan area by providing accessible transportation for the masses.
The late 1800s brought streetcars into the forefront of Minneapolis transportation. The Bryant Avenue streetcar line was electrified in 1890 and initially connected downtown Minneapolis to 38th and Bryant. Subsequent years the Bryant Avenue line began to expand further south. In 1893 the line expanded to 46th and Bryant. In 1911 the line expanded to 50th and Bryant. Finally, the route was extended further down Bryant and even down 50th to access Penn Avenue.
By 1927 bus routes were established to connect the Bryant Avenue streetcar to 58th and Lyndale, and in 1947 a connecting bus route connected all the way to 62nd and Penn, the end of Minneapolis city limits.
These connecting bus routes gave an inexpensive and easy way for commuters to access surrounding suburbs from the downtown area, and later vice-versa.
Before the streetcar’s popularity, Minneapolis was primarily centralized to downtown. Post World War II saw a rapid expansion into a greater metropolitan area aided by the expansion of streetcar routes.
While ridership, unfortunately, peaked early in 1920 with 238 million riders, the lasting effects of the Twin Cities streetcars are still apparent. The suburban sprawl caught on rapidly with the aid of streetcars. Businesses began to gain traction on large streetcar intersections with connecting bus lines. 50th and Bryant saw businesses popping up by the early 1930s including common names, like Myhr’s and Wuollet’s bakeries, that still exist today. Now, bus lines maintain routes down Bryant Avenue even though there is no longer a streetcar.
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Kahn, Deborah Morse. “Lynnhursts 50th & Bryant: Once a Streetcar Corner.” Southwest Journal. March 03, 2010. Accessed December 19, 2018. http://www.southwestjournal.com/news/2010/03/lynnhursts-50th-bryant-once-a-streetcar-corner/.
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MnDigLib. “Minnesota Reflections.” Flood on the Minnesota River, St. Peter, Minnesota. Accessed December 19, 2018. https://reflections.mndigital.org/catalog/msn:392#/image/0.
Weimann, Kyle, Jeremy Jones, Nicole Doran, and Simon Blenski. Connecting the Midtown Greenway Streetcar to Lake Street Destinations. Report. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. 2009.