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Pennsylvania Trolley Museum street fair aims to transport attendees to the past

Four trolleys parked on tracks.
The Pennsylvania Trolley Museum

Originally opened in 1954 in Washington, Pennsylvania, the PA Trolley Museum has worked to preserve Pittsburgh’s trolley history for the past 70 years. To celebrate decades of operation and a recently-established Welcome and Education Center, the museum is hosting a weekend street fair May 18 and 19, which promises to take visitors on a "step back in time" to an age of fire dancers, stilt walkers, street artists and, of course, antique trolleys.

Pennsylvania Trolley Museum's Welcome Center ribbon cutting on November 9, 2023
Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
Pennsylvania Trolley Museum's welcome center ribbon cutting on November 9, 2023

The fair, which will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, is the first event of the museum’s Grand Opening Season to commemorate the Welcome and Education Center constructed this past fall. CEO of the museum Scott Becker says the addition of the new building has made it “a whole new museum.”

“We have interactive exhibits. We even have a trolley operator simulator [with] real trolley controls that are connected to video screens, so you actually feel like you’re going down the track and control the speed of the car,” Becker said. “There’s a lot to see, and it’s good for people of all ages.”

From its films to its many streetcars on display, the museum and its new welcome center seek to provide guests with an immersive experience of the trolley era. This weekend’s street fair, too, intends to simulate celebrations the public could attend back in the early 1900s.

“Street fairs were actually very common back during the trolley era. We’re talking 1920s, 1930s, ‘40s,” Becker explained. “They had fairs that were set up like block parties, and they would have different performers at these events. So the performers we have definitely harken back to … what you would have seen then.”

Trolley enthusiasts can look forward to future events and attractions all year as part of the 70th anniversary celebration.

School field trip using interactive exhibit 11-10-23.
Scott Becker
Pennsylvania Trolley Museum
School field trip using interactive exhibit 11-10-23

Thomas is a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a double major in Politics and Philosophy and English Writing. They are currently the opinions editor at The Pitt News, the content manager for Policy and Political Review and a head writer for Pitt's best and only late night talk show, Pitt Tonight.