HISTORY OF ODESSA TRAMS

By the eighties of the XIX century, the territory of the city had grown, the population of Odesa had reached 250 thousand people. The open horse-drawn carriage and wagonette were the main vehicles.
The Belgian association of horse-drawn tram has suggested the construction of the horse-drawn railway. The City Duma has agreed with their suggestion. So, on July 7(20), 1880, the first line of the horse-drawn tram was opened in Odessa. Its route started from Rishelyevskaya street, passed through Pochtovaya, Kanatnaya streets, Sabaneev lane through Alexandrovsky Park to the Langeron beach. Only sitting places were permitted,  there were only six people, who could stand on the backside of the wagon. Passengers were not allowed to stay at the front platform and stairs of the wagon. One trip at the tram cost five cents. By the end of 1888, there were already 19 routes of the horse-drawn trams. The horsecars were stored in a Motive power depot on Kulykove Pole, and the horses were kept in stables on Botanicheskaya Street (between Kanatnaya Street and French Boulevard).
Then two new lines were built but with steam trams. One line went from Panteleymonovskaya street to the beach “Golden Coast” (16th station of the Big Fountain), another one – from the Kherson Square to the Khadzhibey Estuary (9 km long). The horses were replaced by steam locomotives. They were small steam locomotives with a clumsy wide pipe, for which the inhabitants of Odesa called them “Vanka Golovaty.” In memory of the “little trains”, tram stops on the Bolshefontanskaya and Lustdorfskaya roads were called stations. And they have the same name now too. Some structures of the stations are still maintained (8, 9th stations).
Despite the growth and successful functioning of the Odessa horse-drawn trams and tram engines, which by that time consisted of more than 17 routes, the shortage of transport routes and facilities was felt quite severely. Consequently, the City Dume received a lot of suggestions to rearrange some horse-drawn lines on electric lines and to expand the length of the tram routes, which would make transportation faster, more convenient and functional.
However, all these recommendations, despite their efficiency, were rejected by the city administration for many years. The problem of ejecting an electric tram, for certain reasons, hung in the air for almost a decade. Only in 1908 the newly elected authorities of the new City Duma acquainted with the “Note on the case of concluding a contract with the Belgian joint-stock company of horse-drawn tram for the construction of an electric tram in Odesa within the city borders”. They decided to implement the suggested project. Also, they entered into agreements with the Belgians on rebuilding the horse-drawn lines and steam tram lines to electric tram lines, the construction of new electric railway lines and their operation in Odessa.
On 1910 construction was at full blast. The tram opening was decided to connect with the opening of the Russian Art and industrial exhibition in Odessa, which was designed to show the economic development of the south of the country. The exhibition was held in Alexandrovsky Park (now – Shevchenko Park), and the first line of the Odessa electric tram started from here, from the side of the Leadersovsky Boulevard. The opening ceremony was held on September 24, at noon. At the end of the ceremony, four colorful wagons left the temporary depot, headed along the exhibition alley in Alexandrovsky Park, then along Sabansky Lane, Kanatnaya and Greek Streets and finished their run on Greek Square. The first ride received the sincere interest from Odesa citizens: both young and old, they went to the main streets to the tram lines to personally observe the grand procession of the new Odessa miracle.
“I remember myself standing in a crowd on Grecheskaya Street in Odessa and waiting, like the whole crowd, for the appearance of a tram wagon in front of us that only started running for the first time today …”- wrote Yuri Olesha in his book “No Day Without a Line”. – The tram appeared on the bridge, yellow-red, with a glass vestibule in front, running pretty fast… Following our yells, he passed us … A mister in a bowler was behind the control, and everyone said his name: Legode. That was the director of a Belgian company that built the first tram line in Odessa.”
That exactly how many inhabitants of Odessa memorized September 24, 1910 – the day when the first electric tram was launched. 110 years have passed since then, and this kind of transport continue receiving wide popularity among Odessa citizens, especially in the summertime. Since then, the Odesa tram has developed, modernized, transformed its appearance, received a route number … Only its purpose still the same – to help wonderful people, inhabitants of Odessa and guests of the city.