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Unique SF Transit Gifts at our Museum Store

Looking for unique holiday gifts for friends and family, kids and former kids? Look no further than our San Francisco Railway Museum and Online Store.

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We’ve got a whole range of new merchandise you can’t find anywhere else, because we designed it ourselves in support of our mission to preserve and celebrate historic transit in San Francisco.

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We’ve got four new 11-ounce mugs featuring images from our Vintage Travel Series — original art we commissioned in the style of classic travel posters celebrating destinations along the historic streetcar and cable car lines.

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We’ve got several of these images now available on canvas tote bags too. We have all eight as posters, framed prints, and magnets.

We have magnets for almost every streetcar in the vintage fleet.

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Did we mention tee shirts? We’ve got a crop of new ones, including shirts for both kids and adults celebrating “The Streetcars of San Francisco,” and one especially for dog lovers.

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Speaking of kids, we now have two puzzles available, a 20-piece one for toddlers, and a 100-piece one for a little older child. And, pictured at the top of this post, we have a wonderful wooden model of famed PCC streetcar 1040, the last PCC ever built in North America, sized to fit with standard kids’ wooden train track (like the Thomas the Tank Engine sets).

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And for a laugh, we’ve even made it possible for you to turn Muni off (or on!) whenever you like with this cool light switch cover, one of two we offer. (Thanks to Jeremy Whiteman for the great photo of car 1040 we used, including the Z-Zoo route.)

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There’s a lot more to see and shop for as well, including our exclusive 2017 “Museums in Motion” calendar and our field guide to the city’s historic streetcars and cable cars, On Track.

So either come on down to the Museum at 77 Steuart Street (Steuart Street F-line stop), across from the Ferry Building, between 10 am and 5 pm from Tuesday through Sunday (we’re closed Mondays), or click here to shop online. Move quickly if you want to shop online though. We are unable to offer overnight delivery options so be sure you place your order in time to get it for the holidays. And we do have a wider selection of merchandise at the Museum than we’re able to offer online.

Remember, every purchase you make helps our non-profit Market Street Railway in its mission of preserving historic transit in San Francisco. Happy Holidays!

 

 

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Take Famed Streetcar No. 1 to See “Lost Landscapes”

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Rick Prelinger’s “Lost Landscapes: San Francisco” is celebrating its eleventh year at the Castro Theater in December. What better way to get there for the showing on Wednesday, December 7, than a ride on Muni’s very first streetcar, car 1, built in 1912. The streetcar ride to the Castro Theater will follow a special reception at our San Francisco Railway Museum.

Here’s a brief description of “Lost Landscapes 11”:

This year’s program features new scenes of San Franciscans working, playing, marching and partying during the Great Depression; unseen footage of Seals Stadium and the Cow Palace in the late 1930s; the reconstruction of Market Street and Embarcadero Plaza in the 1970s; rare footage of southeastern San Francisco and the Hunters Point drydock; the 1975 Gay Freedom Day parade; a 1940s-era ode to our fog; many more newly discovered gems; and greatest hits from past programs.

As always, the audience makes the soundtrack at the glorious Castro Theatre! Come prepared to identify places, people and events; to ask questions; and to engage in spirited real-time repartee with fellow audience members.

Our special reception and charter is for people who already have tickets to “Lost Landscapes,” which almost always sells out, but at this posting still has tickets available. So if you don’t have a ticket to “Lost Landscapes” yet, your first step is to click here to buy one or more to the December 7 showing.  Once you have tickets to the showing, sign up for our special reception and charter.

Our event starts at 5:00 p.m. with a wine and cheese reception at our San Francisco Railway Museum at 77 Steuart Street, across from the Ferry Building,

At 5:55 p.m. sharp, the beautifully restored Car 1 with its gorgeous wood paneling and rattan seats, will leave the museum, with you on board, wine glass (or beer) in hand, for a quick trip up the Embarcadero to Pier 39 and back before heading out Market Street on your private ride to Castro and 17th Street, just steps from the Castro Theater. You’ll enjoy special entry to the theater, avoiding the lines. (But, remember, you must have your ticket to the show already.)

The price of the excursion is $30 for members of the public, but Market Street Railway members receive a 25% discount (via a coupon code at check-out). All proceeds go to support Market Street Railway in its work to keep San Francisco’s transit history alive.

Sign up for our reception and charter here.  (And don’t forget, you need a separate ticket for the showing of “Lost Landscapes.”)

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Second Renovated PCC Back From Contractor

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The second of 16 PCCs streetcars that made up the original F-line fleet is back in San Francisco and is beginning testing, with the hope of having it back on the F-line carrying passengers by the end of November.

Car 1051, painted in the “simplified green and cream” paint scheme used by Muni on its streetcars in the late 1960s and 1970s, is dedicated to the late Harvey Milk, who rode streetcars painted like this between his Castro Camera store and City Hall when he was the city’s first gay elected supervisor in 1978, up until his assassination on November 27 of that year. The 1051 appeared in the movie “Milk”.

Car 1056 returned to San Francisco last month.

Streetcars currently at the Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania under the contract include 1055, 1059, 1060, 1062, and 1063.  Based on the order in which they were shipped, the 1060 should be the next to return to San Francisco, perhaps by the end of this month. These cars have had 21 years of very intense service since they were first renovated in the early 1990s.

There is additional, very interesting news regarding the Brookville contract, but we’ll give it to our members (including those who join us now) first in the next issue of Inside Track, our exclusive member newsletter, which should be out before month-end. Members, watch for it, and remember, you can get it at least a week faster if you opt for the electronic version rather than the printed one. (Just send an email with your name and email address to info@streetcar.org and say you want to switch.)

 

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City Hall Avenue, Around 1913

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Almost no one is still with us who actually saw the street named City Hall Avenue.  It ran parallel to Market Street, half a block north, and stretched just two blocks between Leavenworth and Larkin Streets. The massive but poorly built City Hall and neighboring Hall of Records filled the north side of the street.

Because of the municipal buildings, it was an important street, at least until April 18, 1906, when the giant earthquake shook the shoddily built City Hall to the ground. As an important street, it rated a streetcar line, the Tenth and Montgomery line of United Railroads, a meandering route that started at Tenth and Bryant, crossed Market, zigzagged on Polk and Grove to run along City Hall Avenue, then turned north on Leavenworth to Post, Post to Montgomery (where those two streets intersect Market Street), and then north via Montgomery and Washington to Kearny Street.

In the photo above, looking west from Leavenworth Street and dated around 1913, City Hall Avenue looks like a ghost town. The old City Hall is gone, with plans being made to build the grand new one we love today two blocks away. The Hall of Records, not too badly damaged in the quake, has been fixed up and is back in use, but it too is headed for demolition as a new vision for a grand Civic Center takes shapes. The only other buildings in the shot were thrown up after the earthquake and look temporary, which they turned out to be. The overhead wires and tracks turn from Leavenworth Street (to the right in the photo) onto City Hall Avenue.

14938351_10209745024253921_2384041602252333076_nThe map to the left shows the street grid of the time, with City Hall Avenue just to the right of Market Street, with a plaza connecting the two where Hyde Street is today.

So why put a photo without streetcars on a streetcar site? Because streetcars were pretty rare on this line by this time.

With the abrupt shift from cable cars to streetcars on Market Street after the quake, and establishment of other streetcar lines, the meandering Tenth and Montgomery line became an anachronism, just a few years after its opening in 1900. It only drew decent ridership during rush hours, with so few riders the rest of the time that United Railroads kept the small single-truck “dinkys” (identical to preserved Car 578) on the line, while other lines got bigger streetcars. Before long, service was cut to the minimum necessary to retain the city-awarded franchise to use the streets.

When City Hall Avenue itself was ripped up within a few years of this photo, United Railways rerouted this line along existing tracks on Larkin and McAllister Streets, and it held on until 1931. Very few photographs have come to light of the early days of streetcars on this line but at least we have the tracks, and a vanished street, to look at.

Thanks to John A. Harris for posting the photo on the Facebook group San Francisco Remembered, and to Kevin Walsh for posting the map there with his comment. Thanks too to Emiliano Echeverria, who corrected a couple of facts in the post, which is now updated.

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Rainy Day on Market, World War II

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Weather forecast says rain’s on the way for the Bay Area. As good a time as any to share this photo of Market Street, looking east from Fifth Street, taken during World War II (likely 1943 or early 1944). Rich detail in this photo. The blue and gold N-Judah on the outside track is trying to squeeze past the automobile so it can catch up to the competing 5-McAllister streetcar (with the flashy “zip stripe” on the side) of our namesake, Market Street Railway.

American flags and a striped banner hang from the streetcar span wires. The switches from the inside tracks to Fifth Street, where the 40-line interurbans to San Mateo terminated, are visible around the traffic cop with his bright raincoat (was it white or yellow?). Engulfed in the crowd at the extreme center right of the shot (to the left of the word “The” for the Owl Drug Company store at the corner) is the patented Wiley “birdcage” traffic signal unique to San Francisco. How were motorists and streetcar motormen expected to see it? (You can see an operating one at our San Francisco Railway Museum.) Next to the birdcage, a small porcelain traffic sign, put there by Triple-A, points drivers toward the Bay Bridge entrance at Bryant Street (no connecting freeway then!).

Gray’s Navy Blues and GallenKamp Shoes are two of the stores in the building on the north side of Market, which would be ripped down a quarter-century later to build the Powell Street BART station and Hallidie Plaza. The awnings of the ground floor retail store in the Flood Building (where Gap’s flagship store is now) are just visible at the top. The patterns on the sea of umbrellas make us wish this shot was in color.

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Don’t Miss Fred Lyon’s Photo Exhibition

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Today, the New York Times’ Lens blog posted a long-overdue tribute to one of San Francisco’s greatest street photographers, Fred Lyon. The post includes 16 great San Francisco images, including the one above, one of our favorite shots, showing a pipe-puffing businessman in the late 1940s helping the crew push a Powell Street cable car off the turntable, not an uncommon site back then.

There’s a great free exhibition of Fred Lyon’s San Francisco photos showing through October 21 at the Leica Gallery, 463 Bush Street.  If you miss it, you’ll be sorry. We also recommend you purchase his great coffee table book, San Francisco Then, available at  at the Leica Gallery and also at our San Francisco Railway Museum. We also have a great set of notecards at the museum featuring Fred’s San Francisco images. Take time to savor the work of this San Francisco treasure, still active at 92!

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Fleet Weekend Service Adjustments on E, F

The weekend of Fleet Week (that’s Saturday-Sunday, October 8-9 this year) is one of the most crowded weekends along The Embarcadero with pedestrians, motorists, and transit riders all jamming in along the waterfront to see the Navy ships, the Blue Angels air show and more. This year, the Italian Heritage Parade takes place Sunday on top of it all, closing Jefferson Street (and the F-line route) through Fisherman’s Wharf for a time.

img_6497Muni has just announced some service adjustments for the weekend on the E- and F-lines.  Here they are:

Saturday

F-Market-Wharves: streetcars will run regular service, except that if pedestrians spill over onto the trackway in the Wharf areas (which has happened before), F-line cars would be switched back at Pier 39. There will be supplemental bus service as well on the F.

E-Embarcadero: streetcars will turn back at Pier 39 to lessen congestion on Jefferson; however, if the F-line is cut back to Pier 39, E-line cars would then be cut back to the Bay Street crossover, two blocks farther south.

Sunday

F-Market-Wharves: streetcars will switch back at Pier 39 for the Italian Heritage Parade from 8 a.m. until the end of the parade.

E-Embarcadero: streetcars will switch back at Bay Street for the Italian Heritage Parade from 8 a.m. until the end of the parade.

Here’s a tip for people driving into the city for the events: park in Mission Bay where there are several lots and either take the T-line on Third Street and transfer to the E-line at 2nd and King (AT&T Park) or walk to the Caltrain depot and take the E from there.  E cars will have space in that direction.

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Terrific Heritage Weekend

This year’s Muni Heritage Weekend was the best of the five that have taken place so far. Biggest crowds, more kids and families, more vintage vehicles operating, more variety in the routes operated. Kudos to everyone involved on Muni’s side — and there were dozens, operators, mechanics, supervisors, and more, directed by Ed Cobean. Here are a few shots of the action.

The weekend started with a ceremonial run of O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car 42 over Hyde Street trackage it hadn’t felt in 62 years. The car, under the command of ace grip Val Lupiz, operated like a charm. The old Hyde terminal was just a switch, because the cars were double ended. Val took the opportunity to put the car on the Turntable, using the switch at the terminal to change tracks first, so photographers could get the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. (No, it doesnimg_6380‘t fit on the turntable.)

 

Muni’s fabled streetcar number 1 was out and about, signed for its original route, the “A-Geary.” This weekend, it operated along Market to Castro on Saturday on the F-line and to Pier 39 on The Embarcadero on Sunday.

img_64142016 marks the 75th anniversary of Muni’s operation of trolley buses, the “Green Machines” that continued zero-emission operation of more than 20 Muni routes when they were converted from streetcars. To celebrate, one of Muni’s first 9 trolley coaches, the 506, from 1941, carried a great photographic display documenting trolley coach history at Muni. It doesn’t operate (though we hope it will again someday), but was a great centerpiece. But second generation Muni trolley coach 776, shown behind the 506, operated the pioneering R-Howard-South Van Ness line to 26th Street and back.

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From inside the 776 on Market, we see 1929 Melbourne 496 rolling by. It worked the F-line to Castro both days. (The trolley buses, including 1975 Flyer 5300, reached Howard by turning left off Market at Fourth, since the original wire on that part of Howard is gone.img_6475

A surprise participant was Muni’s oldest bus, the 042, built in 1938 by the White Motor Company. Its engine had given up the ghost, but the top-notch mechanics at Woods Motor Coach Division swapped it out for one in a White bus Market Street Railway’s Paul Wells located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and repatriated. The 042 operated like a dream looping around Union Square all weekend, as did 1970 GMC “fishbowl” 3287, shown behind it.

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The most popular vehicles, as always were 1896 “dinky” 578, Muni’s oldest streetcar, and one of Muni’s two Blackpool, England, “boat trams” from 1934. They were especially welcomed during a very hot weekend as they cruised The Embarcadero between Pier 39 and our museum. Here’s the 578 with its restored route lettering (courtesy Market Street Railway) taking a break on Mission.

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Your correspondent was under the weather this weekend and didn’t get very many good shots. So we’re asking your help. Please share your best photographs with us for possible use in the next issue of our newsletter Inside Track, or in our 2018 calendar now being prepared. You can share your photos here.  Thanks.

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Here Comes Muni Heritage Weekend

This year’s Muni Heritage Weekend got off to a great start with a special reception, sponsored by Market Street Railway, honoring San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board Chair Tom Nolan, who just received a prestigious industry award. The universally-respected Nolan, a steady hand in leading SFMTA for many years, was just named board member of the year by the American Public Transportation Association.

Following the invitation-only reception at our San Francisco Railway Museum, everyone hopped on 1934 Blackpool, England boat tram 233 for a sail along The Embarcadero to Pier 39 and back, spotting a bigger boat at the Pier 27 Cruise Ship Terminal.  (Click the center of the screen below to see!) The new-but-traditional colored lights on this boat were made possible by contributions at the museum to our “Float the Boats” fund, enhancing these two wonderful ambassadors from Blackpool. Boat tram 233 itself was brought to San Francisco by Market Street Railway in 2013 and given to Muni thanks to a generous donation by the Thoresen Foundation, with shipping underwritten in part by FedEx Trade Networks.

Saturday and Sunday, September 24-25, starting at 10 a.m. and wrapping up between 4 and 5 p.m., there’ll be lots of vintage transit action. Two vintage trolley coaches (776 from 1950 and 5300 from 1975) will leave every 45 minutes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. giving free rides along Muni’s first trolley coach route, the R-Howard-South Van Ness, which opened 75 years ago. There’ll be rarely-operating historic streetcars, including a boat tram and 1896 “dinky” 578, offering free rides between the museum and Pier 39. Two streetcars from Muni’s original fleet, Car 1 (1912) and Car 130 (1914) are slated to run as part of E-Embarcadero line service, along with 1948 PCC cars No. 1006, 1008, and 1011. These rides will be at regular Muni fares, as will the special cable car, O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde Street Car 42, built in 1907, which will operate in regular service on the California Street Line just a block from the museum.

At this writing, motor coach arrangements are pending after an unexpected maintenance issue cropped up in 1969 GMC Coach 3287. We will update this post as we know more.

At the museum, we’ll be offering a great line of gifts and some one-of-a-kind memorabilia, including books and photos of historic rail operations outside San Francisco. Get there early for the best selection.

And on Saturday night, we still have a few seats left on our special charter of trolley coach 776 to see the streetcar movies at the Balboa Theater.

Here’s a shot of last night’s honoree, SFMTA Board Chair Tom Nolan (right), with Market Street Railway Board Chair Bruce Agid, at the reception at our museum.

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It’s going to be a great Muni Heritage Weekend. Don’t miss it!

 

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Getting Ready for Muni Heritage Weekend

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What you’re looking at here is Muni maintenance folks applying decals the other day to Car 578, the oldest streetcar in Muni’s fleet, built in 1896. When Muni restored it to its original appearance in 1956, for the 50th anniversary of the 1906 Earthquake, the work was overseen by Charlie Smallwood, Muni maintenance manager and legendary San Francisco rail historian.

Charlie had a Muni sign painter reproduce the original lettering on the car, which was painted for one specific line, with the streets that it ran on listed on the letterboards above the side windows and the name of the line underneath the side windows. (Route numbers weren’t adopted until after 1906, and yes, “Devisadero” was spelled that way until 1909.) But when work was done on the car about 20 years ago, the hand-lettering on the sides was painted over. Now, it’s back, thanks to decals we designed and supplied to Muni.  We thank them for applying them in time for Muni Heritage Weekend.

Also, in doing our own research to try to get the decals as accurate as possible, we reached out to ace historian Emiliano Echeverria, who sent us this notice from a Market Street Railway Manager in 1898 (!).  As we said, the car was originally painted for the Ellis & O’Farrell line, in yellow.  (Market Street Railway color coded its lines back then.)

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On weekends, the old Market Street Railway needed extra cars to take people to the beach, on its subsidiary Ferries Park & Ocean Ry., a line out H Street (now Lincoln Way) that used blue streetcars. So they took three yellow cars, including the 578, issued  the cars’ crews blue canvas with the other line’s details written on it, and hung it on the side of the car to cover “Ellis & O’Farrell Sts.”  They also added an extra fare register to match the way things were done on the Ferries Park & Ocean line.

Whew. It sounds complicated now, and must have been back then as well, because when United Railroads took over the old Market Street Railway in 1902, they got rid of color-coded cars, painting all their streetcars and cable cars the same color and hanging removable dash signs on the end of the cars, using the old colors of the line. That started the tradition of dash signs on San Francisco streetcars that endured right through the end of Muni’s “Iron Monsters” in 1958!

Now that you know all this about Car 578, come ride it FREE Saturday and Sunday for Muni Heritage Weekend, Sept. 24-25, 10 am-4 pm. The rides start at our San Francisco Railway Museum, 77 Steuart Street.

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