Car 870 on the 78-line, Prahran, Melbourne, Australia. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2005.
Unbeknownst to me until about 5 seconds before I started writing this, the Melbourne, Australia – as opposed to Melbourne, Florida – public trams constitute the third-largest public tram network in the world with, as Wikipedia points out, 245 kilometers of track, 500 trams, and 1813 tram stops.
More importantly, they have these gorgeous wooden trams that are supported by a hidden steel underskeleton.
The featured tram is a W class car, first introduced to Melbourne in 1923. It’s either a W5, W6 or W7, so designated by safety and other substantial tweaks introduced as late as the mid-1950s. Their use was discontinued in the 1970s and then brought back in the 1990s after certain safety measures had been enacted, and now most of them ride the 78 and 79 lines from North Richmond to Prahran/St. Kilda.
While this is all fascinating, I’m sure, it raises a very important question: Why do we keep looking to the past? What is it, in this modern era with our modern trappings, our ability to communicate with people on the other side of the planet from a plastic device in our hands, our ability to resist death with a couple of pounds of synthetic fabric, and our ability to let inaction and greed, not inability, determine whether a disease is a scourge or a footnote, why do we keep looking to the past?
It’s a fascinating conundrum, when technology advances at such a pace that people devote their lives merely to tracking it, and yet we derive more and more aesthetically from eras more than 50 years gone.