Against the backdrop of Milan's 19th-century stone architecture, a fleet of nearly 90-year-old trams contribute to the aura of a bygone era that still permeates the city from certain angles.
A full 125 of the original 502 trams built from 1927-1930 are still in service in the Italian city -- having survived a World War II depot bombing and the test of time to ply the rails alongside sleeker, modern models.
Powered by electric lines overhead and following metallic rails, the welded carriages first call attention with their rattling sound, then with the screech of the breaks. Inside, passengers sit on slatted wooden benches against panoramic windows, jostling along the city's tramways at a maximum speed of 38 kph (23 mph), while the driver works brass levers from a glass-enclosed cabin.
Most are a distinctive orange, but one has been painted green and has been retrofitted with linen-cloth covered tables to host 20 diners for an atmospheric dinner service every night. While eating an Italian meal prepared by the on-board chef, passengers ramble past some of the city's most famous sites, including the Sforza Castle, the triumphal Arch of Peace, the Duomo cathedral and La Scala opera house.
The trams were built in Italy based on an American design by Peter Witt, the former Cleveland transition commissioner whose aim was to facilitate quicker boarding by having passengers enter from the front and exit from the center doors. Nine of the Milan originals have been exported to San Francisco where they are in service to Fisherman's Wharf.
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Text from the AP news story, AP PHOTOS: 125 vintage trams evoke bygone era in Milan, by Luca Bruno.
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Nat Castañeda is an interdisciplinary visual artist based in Brooklyn, New York. A California native, Castañeda works primarily in video and collage, with an emphasis on tactile intimacy with her materials remaining an important aspect of all her projects. Common issues in Castañeda’s work are the conflating of iconography and pornography, the questioning of traditional gender binaries, and the role of technology within personal narratives. She received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts and has shown at venues such as El Museo del Barrio and Electronic Arts Intermix. In addition to her art practice, Castañeda currently works at The Associated Press where she leads a team that curates AP's online archive of historic and contemporary photojournalism. Castañeda’s photography has appeared in the New York Times,U.S. News & World Report and USA Today.