On This Day: The Wuppertaler Schwebebahn in 1913

On this day 102 years ago—January 8, 1913—a photographer in Wuppertal, Barmen [Eds note: Barmen merged with other nearby towns in 1930 to become Wuppertal], Germany, captured this image of the unique suspension railway that runs through the town, with cars hanging above the Wupper River. The 13 km rail system known as the Wuppertaler Schwebebahn had just been completed 12 years before, and became well-used by locals—by 1925 the company claims it had transported almost 20 million passengers. The Schwebebahn is also famous for an incident in 1950, when a young circus elephant named Tuffi was given a ride as a stunt. Tuffi apparently was not a fan of the railway, causing a ruckus on board that led to her falling out a window, dropping 12 meters to the river below. Tuffi survived with just a scrape, living to the age of 43. The Wuppertaler Schwebebahn remains in operation to this day, carrying around 25 million passengers a year. See a current Google Maps street view version of the photo below.

[Editor's note: This is the first of a new semi-regular series called "On This Day" at The Atlantic's new Photo section. From time to time, I'll be posting single images from the archives, taken on the same calendar date some time in the past.]

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen.

Most Recent

  • Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Therapy Dog, Sunflower Trail, Mediterranean Swim

    The rollout of NASA’s new rocket in Florida, drought and wildfires in Southern Europe, a bridge collapse in Norway, a presidential election in Kenya, a surf competition in Panama, and much more

  • Sean Pavone Photo / iStockphoto / Getty

    The Views From the Top

    A collection of images of mountaintop observatories, monasteries, castles, towers, palaces, and more

  • Manuel Medir / Getty

    Photos: Severe Drought in Europe

    Recent images from England, France, Spain, Germany, and other European countries hit by a series of heat waves this summer

  • Fatos Bytyci / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: Airplane House, Mayfly Swarm, Cool Buffalo

    Historic-battle reenactments in England, the reemergence of a flooded village in Portugal, a beagle-rescue operation in Virginia, sledding at a mountain ski resort in Lesotho, and much more