The under-construction Atlanta Streetcar has been disparaged as: An impractical trolley for tourists, an unabashed pork project for Mayor Reed, the antithesis of traffic relief and a cute little loop to nowhere. Conversely, it's been heralded as: The first seedling of a vast light-rail network, a vital Downtown link for the Beltline, an economic enema for impoverish but historical communities and the passion of a visionary.
The streetcar will accept its first passenger next year, and only time will tell. In the meantime, Smart Planet shines a spotlight on the impact of electrified passenger rail on Portland's once-decrepit Pearl District, which now hums with art galleries, "just about every type of ethnic cuisine" and those maligned paramours of gentrification, dog parks. Opened in 2001, the streetcar in question has "swept billions of dollars of investments into the revived community." Like Atlanta, a dozen or so U.S. cities are planning to pull streetcar systems from their post-World War II ashes.
· From relic to revolutionary: streetcars revitalize city transit [Smart Planet]