John Stephenson

History, Transportation

streetcar, john mason, john stephenson, omnibus

On this day in 1832, the John Mason, a horse-drawn streetcar, began its route between Prince and 14th Streets. Named for the railroad magnate who commissioned it, the new transportation addition was the first of its kind and a vast improvement over the horse-drawn omnibus that was currently in use. Built in 1827, the omnibus was little more than a boxy stagecoach, with riders packed into it like “sardines in a box with perspiration for oil. Passengers hang from the straps like smoked hams in a corner grocery.” Fares were only 15 cents, and though cars were only supposed to hold 15 people, riders even clambered onto the roof, holding on for dear life.

Not perfect, but an improvement


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