Transitioning Seattle’s transit network from streetcars to buses and trolleys was greeted as cutting edge in 1940. It doesn’t feel that way now. Regardless, this promotional video (by Cinema Screen Service Seattle) for the looting of the streetcar network offers plenty of interesting footage of what Seattle and its transit network looked like in the 1940’s.

Seattle’s streetcar system stretched far, but, by 1941, it was in its death throes as tracks were dismantled and service was replaced by buses. The trolley wires remained on some routes, allowing the city a gentler transition; our trolley buses still use those same overhead wires today in many cases. (City of Seattle)

We hope you loved this article. If so, please consider subscribing or donating. The Urbanist is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that depends on donations from readers like you.

Doug Trumm is The Urbanist's Executive Director. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Thanks for resurrecting this old film. Been years since I’ve seen it, and I recommend it to all urban transportation junkies.

One correction to your map, however — it’s a map of all Seattle Transit System service in 1941, both streetcar lines and bus routes. Tracks were never as extensive as the map shows, especially not in Jan. 1941; the last streetcar ran on April 13th that year. See Historylink for more on this interesting history.