Municipal Railway No. 1 is one of America’s most historic streetcars, for it was the first publicly-owned big city streetcar in the United States.
Early in the 20th Century, American transit systems were privately-owned, often part of electric utilities. As a reaction to graft and corruption on the part of the city’s privately-owned streetcar company, United Railroads of San Francisco (URR), and as a reflection of the Progressive Era then sweeping California, San Franciscans passed a bond to build their own public streetcar system, the Municipal Railway, first of its kind in a major American city.
Mayor James Rolph, Jr. personally piloted this streetcar out Geary Street on December 28, 1912 to formally open Muni. He paid his own fare with one of the first 40 nickels minted at the San Francisco Mint. Fifty thousand San Franciscans turned out to celebrate.
Muni’s first streetcars were built without windows in their end sections (which served as the smoking sections). But foggy San Francisco weather proved too much for this arrangement, and the end-section windows of No. 1 and Muni streetcars were glazed by around 1918. Otherwise, No. 1 looks almost identical to the day it first operated in 1912, down to its rattan seats and wooden interior paneling.
Built in San Francisco by W. L. Holman for $7,700, part of Muni’s first order of ten streetcars. Initially used on the “A-Geary” line, running from Kearny Street to Golden Gate Park via Geary and 10th Avenue.
1912 – 1951
Used in regular service, most frequently on the F-Stockton (now part of the 30-Stockton bus) and the C-California (now part of the 1-California bus) lines. For various periods, No. 1 also served the H-Potrero line (Army Street to Fort Mason via Potrero Ave., 11th Street, and Van Ness Avenue) and the M-Ocean View shuttle from West Portal to Broad and Plymouth.
Used on first known Muni streetcar charter by local railfans, setting the stage for hundreds of charters over the years.
Retired from daily service. Motors removed. Car set aside for possible static display at proposed rail museum near Fisherman’s Wharf. (All other 42 cars of this type were scrapped.)
After museum idea fell through, restored to original 1912 condition by Muni shops to serve as centerpiece of Muni’s 50th anniversary celebration.
1962 – 1981
Used occasionally for charter service on J, K. L, M, and N lines.
Weekend special service on J-line in autumn to commemorate full-time operation of Muni Metro and the ‘end’ of surface streetcar service on Market Street.
Mayor Dianne Feinstein pilots car No. 1 down Market Street to open the first San Francisco Historic Trolley Festival.
1984 – 1987
Operated summers in subsequent Trolley Festivals.
Began serving the new F-Market line, built as a result of the Trolley Festivals.
Led the parade of streetcars to open the F-line extension on The Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Removed from service due to a wiring problem.
2009 – 2010
Completely restored by Brookville Equipment Company of Pennsylvania under a $1.8 million contract that included total rebuilding of the trucks, motors, and running gear, as well as reconstruction of the car body and installation of low voltage electrical circuits for lighting, switch control, and communications.
December 19, 2010
Car No. 1 arrives back home in San Francisco for testing and limited service prior to serving as the centerpiece of Muni’s centennial in 2012.
San Francisco Municipal Railway, San Francisco CA, 1912
W.L. Holman, San Francisco
4 Westinghouse 306CA
2 Brill 27G
Westinghouse SM Air