Posted by Ellen

By 1957, when this picture was taken, New Orleans was no longer running streetcars out to Desire. If Desire was where you wanted to go, you'd have to take a bus, and that's how things had been for almost a decade.

But in mid-June of 1957, a college student named William D. Volkmer found himself in New Orleans for a brief stopover en route to ROTC summer camp. His goal for the visit: to find a streetcar named Desire:

I approached the operators on their break at the foot of the Canal Ferry loop and asked them if they could roll the destination sign to "Desire" to allow me a photo shoot. The first three or four cars only contained signs for the two remaining streetcar lines, Canal and St. Charles. Then on about the fifth try, bingo. Car 910's signs still had the full complement of abandoned streetcar lines, so the kindly motorman set it for Desire and continued on his rest break until I had completed my photographic endeavor.

Posted by Ellen

Quarteri Spagnoli.

Posted by Ellen

Dancing in the dark, with bicycle.

Posted by Ellen

Midnight in Salisbury, United Kingdom.  We don't want the world to be quite this way, but it is what it is.

Posted by Ellen

In Beijing, if you're not sure you're parked legally, you really don't want to see that forklift coming down the street.

Posted by Ellen

Until a couple of years ago, internet access in Cuba was a tightly restricted privilege; now, however, anybody can go online.

But two big obstacles remain. One is cost; a few minutes of wifi can eat up an entire day's pay for an average Cuban. Thus, although some people do use the web to check for news beyond official government reports, most internet activity in Cuba is focused on phone calls, often video calls, especially to friends and relatives abroad. 

The other obstacle to getting online is that wifi is not available in your living room; you have to go to a hotspot, which is often outdoors, in a park or plaza. So Cubans such as the Havanans in the photo above gather at hotspots around town with their phones and tablets.

In the evenings, when the tropical heat is letting up a bit, some hotspots get so crowded that the internet slows to to a crawl and may crash. The govvernment has promised to expand the wifi network and even bring it into people's homes, but little progress has been noted.

That's because of the American embargo, say Cuban officials. And they may be right.

Posted by Ellen

The woman in black is standing at the Summit Avenue streetcar stop, looking back across Brighton Street in Boston in 1938.

The streetcar platform was taken down in 2004, but all the buildings in this scene, and even the billboard around the bend, are still there today. 

What was she doing there? What was she thinking? Did she know somebody was taking her picture?

Posted by Ellen

Across from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is what we're told is a typical Dutch traffic light, with separate signals for cars and bicycles.

In central Amsterdam, more than 60 percent of all trips are by bike instead of car; in the outer part of the metro area, where road conditions and population density are more like those in the United States, bicycles still account for 40 percent of trips.

This is a new version of an old phenomenon.  Before World War II, bicycle travel was commonplace all over the Netherlands, but in the years after the war, transportation planning and road building practices were completely car-oriented, with the result that bike-riding had nearly disappeared by about 1970. Since then, however, heavy investment in bicycle infrastructure, such as protected lanes, as well as policy changes that disfavor automobiles, such as expensive parking, have brought bikes back pretty much everywhere.

In fact, the newest round of transportation infrastructure projects involve structures to handle the crush of bicycles that need parking space.