Inner Harbor Cling-Clang?

November 13, 1994

Among the great improvements of recent years in Baltimore have been the water taxis that now criss-cross the Inner Harbor. Business is so good that a keen rivalry has developed among various operators. Now comes the idea of building a 1.5-mile streetcar line around the harbor from Federal Hill to Little Italy.

This is the vision of an energetic group of museum and streetcar enthusiasts. They think an old-fashioned streetcar line could do wonders to Baltimore's tourism industry.

Ultimately, they say, privately-run streetcars could fill a gap in the state Mass Transit Administration's network by linking up with both the light-rail and Metro systems.

"It's something that is long overdue," B&O Railroad Museum director John Ott says of the Inner Harbor line. He says that $5 million could get the first streetcars rolling.

Much of this strategizing is linked to efforts by the Baltimore Streetcar Museum to find a new home. Its current base, in the Jones Falls Valley near Pennsylvania Station, is vulnerable to occasional flooding, endangering the museum's increasingly valuable collection of vintage rolling stock and other memorabilia.

The museum has been looking at sites near the B&O Railroad Museum's Mount Clare complex. That would put it near downtown and the Inner Harbor, enabling a venture into commercial streetcar operation.

Is an Inner Harbor streetcar loop a realistic idea or a pipe dream?

We urge the Mayor's Advisory Commission on Tourism, Entertainment and Culture to find out. At the present, Baltimore's public transport system has so many gaps in it that private efforts should be encouraged.

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