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New York State Railways 1213
from Rochester, New York
It was Cleveland's City Clerk and later Transit Commissioner, Peter Witt, forgotten as the inventor of the paper clip (historically, pieces of paper were held together with straight pins), whose name stuck to a particular often copied and widely distributed configuration of center door streetcar. The layout allowed passengers to enter at the front door and leave at the center, paying when they passed the conductor, who sat just ahead of the center door. Those who spent the journey in the front half of the car paid upon leaving, but those who moved to the rear half of the car paid as they rode along, with considerable time thus saved at stops.
The prototype was introduced on December 1, 1914, after having been built under Witt's direction in the old Lakeview Shops. An order was placed with G. C. Kuhlman Car Company for 130 cars to be delivered during 1915 and 1916. Subsequently, another order of 75 more cars was placed with the Cincinnati Car Company, but by the time these cars were to be delivered, Cleveland had found them unsatisfactory for operating reasons. The Cincinnati Witts had the identical layout, through they embodied some significant improvements. Eventually, Cleveland took delivery of 25 cars of the Cincinnati order in 1918, but the other 50 were sold to New York State Railways' Rochester Division in 1916, probably at a distressed price.
The Cincinnati Car Company would be remembered in history as a boldly innovative operation not bound by traditional designs and practices. Car No. 1213 was one of the first to utilize construction techniques that depended on the metal members being stressed and tensioned as a substitute for sheer mass, affording substantial savings in weight without undue sacrifices in strength. In the process, wood roof structures that characterized most rail and automotive carbodies until long after the adaptation of otherwise all steel construction were eliminated early on. Cork between the steel sheeting and outer canvas maintained the insulation and noise dampening features.
No Peter Witt cars going back to the initial development in Cleveland were known to have survived until No. 1213 was discovered in a suburban backyard in Webster, New York. Former Rochester Police Chief Henry T. Copenhagen had moved the body to his country home in 1941, when there were stringent efforts not to have carbodies left around to defile the landscape. The car was donated in 1984 by Copenhagen's nephew, Alan, who recalls his childhood times playing streetcar and collecting fares from his friends. No. 1213 was one of 25 converted to one-man operation (and then no longer a "Peter Witt") by installing transverse seats, a turnstile by the front door and by covering one of the center doors, which was still under the sheathing when No. 1213 came to Seashore in 1985.
Manufacturer: Cincinnati Car Co.
Item Type: City and Suburban Streetcar
Description: Peter Witt
|Operation: Single-ended||Seats: 52|
|Trucks: 2 Brill 39E2||Motors: 2 General Electric 275A|
|Length: 50' 0"||Width: 8' 3"||Height:||Weight: 31900 lbs.|
|(PDF, 1.58 MB)|