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21 November 2007

New Orleans’ most venerable survivors–the historic 1920 era double-ended green streetcars–again roll down the grassy esplanade on St. Charles Avenue into the heart of the world-famous Garden District on the oldest continually operating streetcar line in the world. The line reopened to Napoleon Avenue during a special ceremony at Napoleon Avenue and St. Charles Avenue on Nov. 10. The entire line is expected to reopen in Spring 2008.

Out of commission for more than two years, the streetcar line suffered significant damage from Hurricane Katrina but the historic wood and steel streetcars escaped destruction because the antiquated car barn in which they are housed is on high ground. And there was a streetcar named Desire among the bunch—“Desire” was the terminus of one of the routes, hence the name.

Recognized by The National Register of Historic Places and a favorite among tourists, founded in 1835, the line is part of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and to this day is a revenue-operating division of the city transit system for commuters, students and residents. As significant as the streetcars are, St. Charles Avenue and The Garden District also are authentic American treasures. Known as the “Jewel of America’s grand avenues,” St. Charles Avenue is more than 200 years old and in 2007 was named the one of the ten great streets and neighborhoods in America by the American Planning Association.

The oak-lined St. Charles Avenue is an icon of Southern style and is the main artery into the Garden District—home of Audubon Park, Loyola and Tulane Universities, historic cemeteries, churches, synagogues, schools and restaurants, and a neighborhood of extreme grandeur, graced by some of the most magnificent collections of antebellum Greek revival homes in the world.

This announcement is the latest in a series of milestones for New Orleans: cultural festivals are enjoying record-breaking attendance, airlines are adding new flights to Louis Armstrong International Airport and the French Quarter is cleaner than it has been in decades. The Avenue Inn Bed and Breakfast is located on St. Charles Avenue, with a streetcar stop only steps from the front door.

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