San Francisco is one of the few places in the world where you can get the actual experience of riding vintage rail transit in its “natural habitat” — the rumble of the motors under your feet, the swaying of the car itself, the smell of the brakes. Before or after you take that magical ride on the “museums in motion,” visit our museum to make your experience complete.
What we offer at the museum is a celebration of San Francisco’s rail transit history, focused on exploring the positive impacts streetcars and cable cars have made on the quality of urban life in this great city.
The museum features a full-sized exact replica of the motorman’s platform of a 1911 San Francisco streetcar, where kids of all ages can experience what it was like to be at the controls. You’ll also find unique historic artifacts, illustrative and informative displays, rarely seen archival photography, and audio-visual exhibits that use 21st century technology to bring rail transit in the 19th and 20th centuries to life.
Car Vs Car: How The Automobile Impacted Streetcars
In San Francisco, what some cities call “trolleys” or “trams” have always been called “streetcars”, or before World War II, simply “cars”. Back then, automobiles were often called “machines” here.
But as auto ownership grew, the “machines” began jousting for precious street space with streetcars all over San Francisco – and other American cities as well. That conflict would lead to dramatic changes in how people got around town.
Come find out how these these “machines” made history!
Unique San Francisco Gifts
The gift shop in the San Francisco Railway Museum features a wide variety of unique San Francisco gifts, souvenirs and memorabilia not available anywhere else.
Our ‘flagship’ merchandise line is Market Street Railway’s own Historic Travel Series of images that evoke the heyday of travel posters from the 1920s and 1930s. These images, created by San Francisco artists John Mattos and David Dugan, depict cable cars and historic streetcars in the context of the San Francisco neighborhoods they serve. This furthers Market Street Railway’s mission of educating the public to the value of historic transit to neighborhood vitality and to expansion of San Francisco’s vital visitor industry. These images are currently available as posters, note cards, framed prints and magnets. We also offer our signature “fleet poster” of all the vintage streetcars currently active on the F-line. We’re always adding additional unique gifts, including mugs, t-shirts, and kids’ items.
Market Street Railway members will receive a 10% discount on all merchandise purchased at the museum as they do at our online store, where everyone can purchase signature items also available at the museum gift shop.