San Francisco Municipal Railway (1960s)
Built 1948 • Operational • Tribute livery
All of San Francisco’s vintage streetcars have interesting histories, but No. 1051 has been adding to its legacy in recent years.
Streetcar 1051 turning on Noe Street, one block from Castro. Jamison Wieser photo.
While this was originally a Philadelphia streetcar, it, like No. 1050, was painted in a Muni livery when it joined the San Francisco fleet to open the F-line in 1995. To be specific, it’s painted in the “simplified” green and cream livery that supplanted the famous “Wings” seen on several streetcars in the historic fleet.
The change came after Muni started putting large ads on the sides of its PCCs around 1960 to generate more revenue. These covered up parts of the Wings motif. So, starting in 1963, repainted streetcars sported a simpler cream band running along the side panels of the car. This streetcar is painted in tribute to that scheme.
Many of Muni’s PCCs escaped the simplified scheme, running in their (fading) Wings to the end of their original service life in 1982. For a brief time, at the end of the 1970s, there were four paint schemes on Muni’s PCCs. Eleven streetcars acquired third-hand from Toronto in 1974 had their lower half repainted a dark red and adorned with Muni’s short-lived ribbon logo, modeled after the end of the California Street cable cars. The rest of the car stayed with the Toronto livery. And 30 Muni PCCs were repainted in 1978-79 in the new white, orange, and poppy scheme developed by famed designer Walter Landor along with his new, squiggly Muni logo, immediately dubbed the ‘Worm’ and still in use today.
But the simplified paint scheme was the most commonly seen on Muni’s PCCs in the 1970s. Because of that, No. 1051 was chosen to appear in the Academy Award winning film Milk, released in 2008. The following year, No. 1051 was dedicated to the memory of the movie’s subject, Supervisor Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official and a champion of public transit, who regularly rode streetcars wearing this paint scheme on the same stretch of Market Street between his home in the Castro and his office in City Hall where the F-line now runs.
Muni still owns about 20 unrestored PCCs from its original fleet, many of them painted in the simplified scheme. If more streetcars are needed for the active fleet in the future, an original Muni PCC might take over the simplified scheme, allowing the streetcar honoring Harvey Milk to be one he may have actually ridden. If that came to pass, No. 1051, like No. 1050, could be a candidate for another city’s PCC livery in the future.