Milan, Italy (1920s)
Built 1928 • Operational
The second most common type of streetcar in Muni's historic fleet is an American classic with an Italian accent. This type of car is named for Cleveland street railway commissioner Peter Witt, who designed it for his Ohio city around 1915. The concept was to speed loading by putting the conductor in the middle of the car, letting crowds board through the front door and paying as they passed the conductor.
"Peter Witts" ran in 15 U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Los Angeles (though not, in that era, in San Francisco). The design was also exported to world cities such as Toronto, Mexico City, Madrid, and three Italian cities, Naples, Turin, and Milan.
Bill Storage photo.
Milan has the longest-serving Peter Witts in the world, building some 500 starting in 1928, some of which still operate today. The first Peter Witts in Milan were painted an attractive yellow and white, as modeled on Muni trams Nos. 1807 and 1811. In the early 1930s, the livery was changed to a two-tone green worn in San Francisco by Nos. 1814, 1818, and 1888. In the 1970s, the Milan tram fleet was repainted a solid orange, the livery worn by the remainder of Muni's Milan trams. The "Peter Witt" trams long ago stopped using conductors, but Milan, like Muni, has painted some of their orange trams back into their historic liveries.
Richard Panse photo.
In 1984, one Milan tram (No, 1834) came to San Francisco for the summer Trolley Festivals that led to construction of the F-line. It proved so reliable that Muni obtained ten more in 1998 to meet the huge F-line rider demand. Over the years, Muni has systematically upgraded these trams with modern GPS navigation and other improvements, but they still retain their distinctive Italian flavor.
Muni has renumbered most of its ex-Milan trams to avoid potential numbering conflicts with its light rail vehicle fleet. The renumbered trams, with their original Milan number in parentheses, are: 1807 (1507), 1811 (1911), 1856 (1556), 1888 (1588), 1893 (1793), and 1895 (1795).