Thursday, June 11, 2015

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II)

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti CraftsLast week, as a kind of introduction to the brilliant street art oasis at the bus depot, I talked about my own experiences with the site.  Today, I'll be sharing a little bit of the property's history.



RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts
RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts
Another enthusiastic thanks to Stephen McNally for sending me these amazing photos of the early days of the bus depot.



Here's a picture of Marie, who was kind enough to help out.
In the late 1880s, Richmond became the first city in the world to have its own electric street railway.  People could ride from one side of the city to the other at a whopping seven miles an hour for five cents. Several of the buildings on the corner of Cary and Davis (what would eventually be the bus depot) were built between 1895 and 1903 by the Richmond Traction Company, which was one of many companies that managed the early days of Richmond's public transit. (I found references to over a dozen in my research. There were a lot of mergers and take-overs. Very exciting stuff.)
RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts
RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts
 Not long after building the original "car barns", the Richmond Traction Company merged with several other companies to form The Richmond Passenger and Power Company, which was taken over by the Virginia Passenger and Power Company just a year later. (I told you! So exciting!)  During that time, Richmond was full of fun stuff to do.  There was a casino, vaudeville shows, and even an amusement park with a swimming pool and a bandstand. 
RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts
In 1903, Richmond's streetcar service was rocked by scandal.  First, there was a strike that incited riots and the National Guard had to come to Richmond to restore order.  Around the same time, the African American community boycotted public transport in protest of mandatory segregation. By 1904, VP&P was in foreclosure. The city's street car service was managed by Virginia Railway & Power Company from 1909 until Virginia Electric & Power Company took over in 1925 and gave the entire system an overhaul.
RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts
RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts

Richmond's street railway was powered (for the most part) by the power plant at Haxall Point, (the site of 2012's Street Art Festival.)  In the 1920s, city buses began to replace the trolleys.  In 1944, VEPCO was sold to the Virginia Transit Company.  Streetcar service was discontinued in 1949, and the property became storage and maintenance facilities for buses.  The GRTC purchased it in 1973 and it was their headquarters until 2010.
RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts

RVA Street Art: The GRTC Bus Depot (Part II) | Yeti Crafts
Next week, I'll be talking about the site since the GRTC relocated, the Street Art Festival, and The Light of Human Kindness! Also - I'd love to be able to match these murals with their artists.  If you recognize someone's work, please let me know!

You can see all of my RVA Street Art posts here.

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