Cityplace Trolley Turntable Takes Its First Spin. It's Adorable. Even With Lasers.

Photos by Leslie Minora
The Green Dragon takes its inaugural spin.
Back in June, the plot of land near the Cityplace DART station at Haskell and N. Central Expressway was a vacant lot with a big hole and a big plan. It would be the future site of a trolley turntable, a novelty attraction to be sure, but with the purpose of redirecting an expanding fleet in one direction, instead of backward and forward like the current inventory of vintage streetcars.

Last night, the new turntable had its first go-round, rotating a car packed with those who had helped move the project from concept to reality. The station lit up in neon as the Green Dragon trolley, decorated with garland, slowly rotated. To someone unfamiliar with Dallas's recent propensity for viva Las Vegasing, the turntable may have looked more like a landing pad for UFOs with the darting laser lights around its circumference. But the hyper-modern display was only meant to highlight the subject of the fuss, the trolleys from the early 1900s.

Neal Sleeper of Cityplace, which owns the land and donated space for the turntable site, gave a brief history of the project to the crowd gathered at Cork wine bar to celebrate the opening. The idea took shape more than a dozen years ago, he said. But planning, financing, design and building lasted until last night.

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Council member Angela Hunt called it a "great public-private partnership," a cherry on top of Uptown revitalization. "This turntable, I think, is just fantastic," she told the crowd.

State Rep. Dan Branch likewise gave the turntable his nod of approval. "Everybody thought trolleys were going away in the '50s," he said. Not in Uptown, the "coolest," "funnest" neighborhood, in his opinion.

"The trolley is Uptown, and Uptown is the trolley," said Joseph Pitchford of the Uptown Public Improvement District. "Thank you very much, taxpayers, thank you," he added.

In other trolley news, the track extension, that partially federally funded loop through downtown, is expected to be completed by July 2013. While the antique vehicles may not be the most fast-paced or practical mode of transportation, there's little debate that they're damn cute.

Settling in for a ride on the plush benches of the perfectly maintained Matilda trolley, Sleeper said that the turntable's location a few steps away from the Cityplace DART station makes the trolley a significant transportation connection, more than just a charming novelty. Approaching the turntable as it was about to spin the Green Dragon trolley, Slepper said, "I've been waiting for this moment we're about to see for a lifetime."

Then, with the push of a button, the trolley spun slowly within the circle of flashing lights like a prized game-show showcase.

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Justin K
Justin K

The "new" trolly's have been in storage for a long time for the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority. The trollys are still antique but much better suited to handle the ever increasing load the trolly's are handling durig rush hour periods. The "Master Plan" was always to create a loop at both ends of the line so the trolly would never have to turn around. Of course, that became a problem when the short extension was added to take the trolly to city place.

The McKinney Trolly is a rolling museum and the turntable is fitting for a museum setting.

Payson Knapp
Payson Knapp

Anothe cool things happening in Uptown/downtown

Bkooistra
Bkooistra

But what good is a turntable at one end of the line if there isn't one at the other? Or are they adding a turntable down by the Nasher as well?

trolleyguy
trolleyguy

Actually, a loop St. Paul to Federal to Olive and back to McKinney Ave. due to open in earl to mid 2013.

orangemike
orangemike

I think the plan is for a loop to extend down St. Paul to Federal (a block from the St. Paul light rail station) and then back up Olive to reconnect to the existing track on McKinney.

Gabe
Gabe

That is correct. That end will loop. 

el papi grande
el papi grande

does anyone even use the trolley? ive never seen more than a couple of people on one of em

Motor Man
Motor Man

Yes.  Last year alone the Streetcar carried over 300,000 people.  Average per day is usually between 500 to 1000 for weekdays and over 2000 on the weekends.

trolleyguy
trolleyguy

Do you ever get out?  the trolleys carry around 350,000 passengers a year!

Karl
Karl

I try to take one every now and then.  They don't run according to their schedule, and there is one trolley driver that has to tell a story about the Federal Reserve building each time he goes over Woodall Rodgers - very annoying guy - and, a big reason not to take the trolley.

Motor Man
Motor Man

That Operator is an attraction on Saturdays and usually carries at least 1000 people during his shift.  He is the reason most people ride during that time.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

So tell me more about the new trolleys.   Mister Mean knows a wee bit about railroads (and a wee bit less about trolleys but still enough to be considered unhealthy for an individual) and most of the trolleys and street rail cars are bi directional so they do not need to be turned around-those being the early to mid 20th century vintage.  Remember that in their hay day in many cities the bi directionality was important asset-at the end of the line go down the aisle and flip the backs of the seats to change the rider’s direction and away you went.   No need for investment in turntables for a cities trolley fleet (which in many cities cases was rather extensive).   Indeed most major cities had trolley infrastructures that became obsolete due to the increased uses of buses.   Are the new trolleys modern ones (21st century design) or refurbished 20th century ones?   Can a link be provided to show what these new trolleys look like?

Sidewalkastronomer
Sidewalkastronomer

The 2 new trolleys aren't new and they are being stored right now at the Dart train yard near Fair Park. They do need some refurbishing. I put a picture of one on MATA's Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/photo....

Sidewalkastronomer
Sidewalkastronomer

I just noticed today that one of the streetcars has been removed from the Dart rail yard. I put a question on Mata's Facebook page asking if it to be restored soon.

Bob
Bob

The "new" trolleys are actually mid-20th Century PCC cars that ran on the streets of many cities through the 50's or 60's depending on the city.  They ran in Dallas as well as many other American cities.  Some of the restored PCC cars still run on the Market Street line in San Francisco.  Their lines had a loop at each end so that they did not need a turntable to be reversed.  The new streetcar lines being proposed for Dallas (other than the McKinney Ave. trolley line) will be new, 21st Century cars that are larger than the current cars but smaller than the DART LRT cars.

Guest
Guest

Has CityPlace Station been renamed Uptown Station, or is it one of those Uptown Station @ CityPlace Station kind of situations?  Could be a bit confusing for out-of-towners trying to follow directions to either station.

orangemike
orangemike

As far as I can tell, the turntable is Uptown Station for the M Line streetcar and the now red-sided building is still Cityplace Station on the Red and Orange light rail lines. Yes, it will be confusing to a lot of people.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

The official name is Ruth's Chris Double Eagle Uptown Cityplace Station.  Just so you know.

elbueno
elbueno

i think the most important aspect of this is the improved entry to the Cityplace station. Renamed Uptown Station? At least according the signage. Actually that wouldn't be a bad idea. 

Steven
Steven

Turn table for a bidirectional trolley?  I smell boondoggle.

Andy
Andy

The "new" cars are single-ended. Keep sniffing.

Steven
Steven

I didn't know that.  I was just looking at the one in the picture and the ones I've seen out on the streets.

I'll really cry boondoggle when they install a huge one at the end of the Orange Line.

Steven
Steven

Get over yourself. I already fessed up to not knowing everything about the trolley.  There are more important things going on in the city.

Rangers100
Rangers100

It's good to see you've taken the time to learn about this project before criticizing it.  It shows you are very up to date and interested in the city.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

But why are they single-ended?  In anticipation of the turntable?

No, the smell is still there.

guest
guest

You so darn smart! Must be all that urbanism, huh?

Rangers100
Rangers100

Because new cars are all single-ended.  And new cars will run much faster than the old cars.  

[insert cynical internet comment]

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