The Thirty-Year War
A History of Detroit's Streetcars, 1892-1922
By Neil J. Lehto.
Cloth with dust jacket, 7x10", 338 pages. 2017.
"Streetcars played an especially important role in society around the turn of the twentieth century in Detroit, in part because of the downtown hub-and-spoke design of its main streets.
"During this period the streetcar was the main mode of transportation for the average citizen, as horse-drawn carriages and automobiles were not found outside of the upper class. Control over streetcar franchises was highly coveted - this control was simultaneous with having power over how and where people were transported throughout the city, making it an incredible political tool.
"The Thirty-Year War was a battle waged between 1892 and 1922 by the City of Detroit against the politically powerful and deeply entrenched corporations that owned streetcar franchises for control of the city's streetway system. This compelling history shows how and why the owners of monopoly franchises of great public utilities such as bridges, street railways, electricity, natural gas, and cable television will protect and defend their privilege against public ownership or control, and is an example of how one city successfully fought back.
"Neil J. Lehto is an attorney in southeastern Michigan who specializes in representing Michigan cities, townships, and villages in various cable television, public utility, municipal franchise, and telecommunications tower matters.
"Neil J. Lehto’s The Thirty-Year War: A History of Detroit’s Streetcars, 1892–1922, is the definitive history on a challenging period of time in Detroit's streetcar history. It chronicles the transformation of Detroit's public transportation system from what was then...privately owned and operated into what would become the country's largest municipally owned streetcar company. Lehto provides an informative and detailed account of the personalities and politics that made this happen. He provides an in-depth history of the various independent streetcar companies that once operated on each of Detroit's major streets . . . [and] eventually became one of the largest privately owned streetcar companies in the country...This is a must-read book for anyone interested in the history of streetcars in Detroit." - Kenneth Schramm, historian and author of Detroit's Street Railways