Raleigh itself had real trolley service. One line went from downtown to Bloomsbury Park at the end of Saint Mary's Street. Nothing remains of Bloomsbury Park, except the post for the merry-go-round that was restored and is now enjoyed by children at Pullen Park. Bloomsbury is now a residential area, and was between Aldert Root School and the intersection with Lassiter's Mill Rd. This explains why there is that weird switch in the names of the roads, a frequent occurrence in Raleigh. It used to be the jumping off place for the city limits, but is now some 8 miles inside Raleigh. Just to finish up my blabbing, we have been blessed with an excellent economy for the last 50 years. Our unemployment rate is about 2%, and has rarely gone over 5%.
In addition to the white suburbs, black residential expansion continued at an unprecedented rate in the south and east sections of Raleigh. South Park, bordered by Bledsoe, Wilmington, Hoke and East streets, was platted in 1907 by the white-owned Raleigh Real Estate and Trust Company. Soon after, in a twelve month period, 122 lots had been sold and were in various states of improvement. Farther to the north and east, around St. Augustine's College, two other black suburbs were created in the early 1910s. Battery Heights and College Park attracted skilled workers and a rising middle class sector. The domestic architecture consists of one and two story frame Triple A's and shotguns, cottages and I-houses decorated in a variety of styles. Although South Park, Battery Heights and College Park were in outlying areas, by 1920, streetcar service along Hargett Street was extended and an increased use of automobiles attracted would-be homeowners.
Besides providing improved access to the outlying residential areas, the Carolina Power and Light Company (CP&L) sought to expand its ridership base. In 1911, the utility extended northward the Glenwood Avenue route to the Carolina Country Club which bordered a one hundred acre park. Bloomsbury Park opened in 1912 and featured an electric powered carousel, a roller coaster and a penny arcade. The general manager of CP&L reported, "we now have a long railway line for joy riders which terminates at the park and we are hopeful that the combination will prove most beneficial to us". By 1915, however, Bloomsbury Park had ceased operations, terminated by CP&L. The carousel was bought by the city and placed in Pullen Park. What was left along both sides of the rail lines was mainly farmlands filled with cultivated fields, fallow expanses, and woods that had been ogled by every paying passenger up to that time. In mid-decade, continued residential expansion occurred when large plots of land were purchased by Thomas Ruffin, James H. Pou, and others. Situated north of the Five Points intersection, the lands would beckon to prospective homeowners for several more years until the outbreak of World War I temporarily suspended development.
The Raleigh Street Railway Company, however, began scheduled runs on September 1, 1891. The system covered the same general route as the mule-drawn system. From downtown, the tracks ran west along Hillsboro Street (now Hillsborough) as far as St. Mary's College, north on Blount Street to Brookside Park near Oakwood Cemetery, and down Fayetteville and Cabarrus streets to the depot southwest of downtown. When the company failed in 1894, James H. Cutler of Boston, who already had streetcar interests in Asheville and other southern cities, acquired more investors and reorganized the company as the Raleigh Electric Company.
Carolina and Power & Light Company, organized in 1908 in Raleigh, incorporated Raleigh Electric and its streetcars, other area utilities, and the newly built Buckhorn dam and plant on the Cape Fear River. Only Fayetteville Street, of all the streetcar routes, was paved at the time. Frank Shearin, a conductor, recalled, "People in the residential areas used to complain about the dust." To solve the problem, CP& L bought a 4,000-gallon capacity tank car to water down the roads. This was only one example of how CP& L invested the necessary funds to modernize Raleigh's streetcar operation.
By 1915 the system boasted twelve miles of trackage. It served the state technical college (now N.C. State University) and reached the State Fairgrounds, ran along New Bern Avenue to the east, and in (1912) arrived at the new 100-acre Bloomsbury Park out Glenwood Avenue to the north. As a student at N.C. State in the early 1930s, Willie York (developer of Cameron Village Shopping Center and other properties) recalled riding streetcars downtown to the California Fruit Store to meet girls from Meredith College.