I just stumbled upon this interesting Al Jadeed TV report about Lebanon’s old trolley car or “tramway” system. The reporter visits an exhibit where researchers talk about the impact of the tramway by displaying old route maps and gathering memories about the lines. The researcher explains that the advent of the tramway was very influential on the perception of time, punctuality and orderliness. Unlike today’s buses and shared taxis, the tramway only stopped in certain places and at certain times, he says.

Several people are also interviewed about their memories. Interestingly, one woman recalls that the tramway was seen as demonic in that it was interpreted by some as contradicting religious beliefs.

The good news is that this exhibit is open again this week, beginning with the grand opening tomorrow at UNESCO palace at 3PM. It runs from December 2-10 according to the Facebook event page.

With endless traffic, choking fumes and chaos on the roads, safe and reliable public transport is desperately needed in Beirut today. See this previous post on one of the initiatives to make this happen and how you can help support them.

  1. If there is. really most MISSED & CHERISHED , blast from the past of BEIRUT CITY, that was & is the Beirut s TRAMWAYS , and its tracks that Criss-crossed the main downtown roads over half a century…until the early 60 S , or almost a half century ago since it became redundant, after serving the Lebanese &foreign visitors all such time in its different models and colours it went through,,,, from the yellow ,to green around mid 1940 s to mid 50 s then to half red half white until its last day (s) ,symbol of Lebanese Flag colors, the main GARAGE or Depot ,place of rest after traumatic day s work was in a MAR MIKHAEL , close to GIMMEYZEH in East Beirut ,where now stands Lebanon s Electricity Establishment..TOWER! few of its carriages been converted to a small coffee shop/restaurant before 1975 s civil wa, by some individuals, as a tourist attraction was then opposite PIGEON ROCKS (AL RAWSHEH )near the seaside ?/ Tramway s networks connected East -West -North- South Beirut from Al Basta to Al Dowra and another line stretched from Furn El Shebbak to Al Manara passing A.U.B / The American Uni.in Beirut, always crowded and packed with all sorts of passengers, which was pick pockets .. oasis??..A Doctor set next to a street sweeper ,a Lawyer or a Civil servant next to waiter ,no 1st or 2ndClass DIVIDES / discrimination /or taboos , because tickets were cheap VERY cheap,and easier than using their own cars ,,due to constant & around the clock traffic jams, even though most those caused by trams ..themselves.. but people didn t mind or make much fuss about it ,,because they had no other alternative.. until SCANIA Buses took over that task and the trams called it a day..and R E T I R E D for good !! Best REGARDS from Isahak Barsoumian/London

    1. Thanks for your many comments Isahak. I hope to get around to all of them eventually 🙂 This one stood out to me. With today’s economic divides in the city, it’s hard to imagine Beirut residents of all social classes literally seated on the same bus. Perhaps we can look to this rich past to give some hope to efforts to encourage broader citizenship in the future.

  2. Just a slight addition and a humble suggestion dedicated to SOLIDERE BEIRUT WHY NOT bring back Tramway services back to the City? as a tourist attraction and also a means of transport that stretches from BAIN MILITAIRE..where LORDS hotel is/was to , all the way to AIN MRAISEH /PHOENICIA hOTEL /ThePort/ MAR MIKHAEL / QUARANTINA/ DOWRA / TO … ANTELIAS?? most probably?! Many European Cities kept,or even brought Trams …back such as LISBON/Portugal/ ISTANBUL -TAKSIM/Turkey , SAN FRANSISCO/USA even here in ENGLAND & in LIVERPOOL city?? If not in its past glory /fashion/ system ..at least as a novelty and easy route from one side to another without getting effecting or causing traffic jams as before? I mean long ago trains used to have tracks close to the sea-side… this will be very convenient for ALL and practical means of moving around .. don t you agree ..SOLIDERE??

  3. Hi there/As an appendix to my previous comment concerning Beirut/Tramway, I got to mention this sad incident that happened in mid 1950 s , and one of my very close female relatives , and to keep her memory ..Alive,,after all such decades, who became a Tram/Martyr ?? I mean dear and most beloved lady ..a real Lady, a Graceful person, very kind, very caring A,,always smiling and real darling Mrs. ESTHER PRINTZIAN, that Black Sunday morning went out to buy some breakfast essentials or favourite for her grandchildren..but never returned home…ALIVE? We never knew what really happened that morning all we heard that she was dragged by a Tramway..and been ran over..and died on spot,GOD only knows what really happened or who s fault it was..also how much That Sweet Lady..suffered before meeting Her maker? But our family really endured a GIANT loss! This happened somewhere next to Cinema CENTRAL/Bourdj Hammoud..close to ABU ARROUSH infamous peanuts &DRY food shop,then? An AWFUL accident that deprived US from her presence ,as SHE was in her 50 s..So let this space be my personal Tribute and UNFORGETTABLE good/undying memory..may she always Rest In Peace / same as the culprit >>> That Tramway>>> itself became a heap of metal,around 1965??I believe Mrs.Printzian wasn t the only Tram victim in it s 60 year history ,but for us she will always be considered ..A MARTYR? ..Blame it on FAITH ?? From: Isahak/sahag/Barsoumian_London/G.B

  4. SORRY again/ A slight correction in the end of my Comment /The ACCIDENT/ as i mentioned BLAME IT ON FAITH, actually wanted to say FATE..human error /my apologies! Ishak.B.

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