Streetcars were a common sight in downtown Dallas during the 1930s, but by the ’50s they’d disappeared as Dallas became more car-centric. In the 1980s the original rails were rediscovered and the neighborhood pushed to restore railcar service to the area. On July 22, 1989, “Car 122” rolled back into service and the rails were revived.
Since then, the McKinney Avenue Trolley has been operating as a free transportation option in Uptown, Dallas. DART helped expand the line, connecting it to the Cityplace Station and nicknaming the trolley system the “M-Line.” At the moment there are six cars operating on the M-Line, all with charming names like “Miss Daisy,” “Matilda” and “Green Dragon.” The streetcars are usually out-of-commission streetcars that are salvaged and restored to meet current rail standards, then added to the rail circuit. The rail itself is part of a heritage streetcar movement that hopes to preserve both streetcars and rails in developing urban areas.
In addition to protecting history, the line also makes helps significantly increase uptown’s walkability. Getting from Cityplace to the Dallas Museum of Art on foot would mean spending about 34 minutes in the Texas sun. If you opt for a car, you’re looking at about 20 minutes of driving with traffic followed by $10 for parking. But if you take the trolley you can make the trip in about 15 minutes, free of charge, and get the bonus privilege of traveling in uptown and not just through it.
Plus, you get the option of stopping anywhere along the line! That includes the entire West Village shopping center, the Arts District, and you can even hop off right in the middle of Klyde-Warren. If you’re hungry, take the stops at Hopdoddy, Grimaldi’s or the Mad Hatter Cafe. Basically if you’re trying to impress someone on a first date, this is a failsafe way to show them your street-savvy knowledge and put a historic twist on “dinner and a movie.”
If you don’t feel like deciphering the nightmare matrix of trolley schedules, the M-Line has graciously added a live tracking feature that gives you updated trolley locations. But be careful, it’s easy to get sucked into watching the cars roll around the city.