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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Interurban \In`ter*ur"ban\ ([i^]n`t[~e]r*[^u]r"ban), a. Going between, or connecting, cities or towns; as, interurban electric railways.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1883, from inter- + urban.


a. Of, pertaining to, involving or joining two or more urban centres n. A railway connecting two or more urban centres.


The interurban (or radial railway) is a type of electric railway, with streetcar-like light electric self-propelled railcars which run within and between cities or towns. They were prevalent in North America between 1900 and 1925 and were used primarily for passenger travel between cities and their surrounding suburban and rural communities. Limited examples existed in Europe and Asia. Interurban as a term encompassed the companies, their infrastructure, and the cars that ran on the rails.

The interurban, especially in the United States, was a valuable cultural institution. Most roads and town streets were unpaved, and transportation was by horse-drawn carriages and carts. The interurban provided vital transportation links between the city and countryside. In 1915, of interurban railways were operating in the United States. For a time, interurban railways were the fifth-largest industry in the United States.

By 1930, most interurbans were gone with few surviving into the 1950s. Oliver Jensen, author of American Heritage History of Railroads in America, commented that "...the automobile doomed the interurban whose private tax paying tracks could never compete with the highways that a generous government provided for the motorist."

Usage examples of "interurban".

The end of it ran into a disused interurban right of way, beyond which stretched a waste of Japanese truck farms.

An interurban right-of-way split the street in half, and just as I got to the block that would have the number I had looked up, a two-car train came racketing by at forty-five miles an hour, making almost as much noise as a transport plane taking off.

Out in the tram shed, only two large interurban coaches hovered in the maze of shallow stone alleyways the vehicles used for a roadbed.

No more than a few irals back along the alleyway, a fire-fighting unit had just extinguished the charred remains of an interurban car.

I turned the car and slid down a slope with a high bluff on one side, interurban tracks to the right, a low straggle of light far off beyond the tracks, and then very far off a glitter of pier lights and a haze in the sky over a city.

At the next corner I bumped over disused interurban tracks and on into a block of junkyards.

Working on the car was a dodge, an escape: He should really be going back to Norristown, even if he had to ride there on the Interurban Rapid Transit.

I started the car and turned it and drove back across the interurban tracks to the highway and so on into town and up to West Hollywood.