Kevin Sheridan photo.
We’ve occasionally been featuring photos from our current Museums in Motion calendar as our “photo of the month”, but this month will be a little different. Our photo this month comes from June of our 2011 calendar, which has just been finalized and sent off for printing.
Kevin Sheridan captured this reflection of Los Angeles streetcar no. 1052 on the future E-line right-of-way on The Embarcadero near Howard Street, with the Bay Bridge in the background. When the additional streetcars now under renovation return to Muni and operating funding is identified, the E-Embarcadero line will make historic streetcars an everyday sight between the Ferry Building and the Ballpark.
Our annual calendar is an important fundraiser for our non-profit organization and an important thank you to our members, without whom Market Street Railway wouldn’t exist. I am especially proud of how well next year’s calendar turned out, so you can expect to hear–and see–much more soon. If you are a Merchant and interested in carrying the calendar in your store, please contact John Hogan at the San Francisco Railway Museum by calling 1 (415) 974-1948.
The public is invited to take one last look around Transbay Terminal this Friday. The formidable ediface, which started life as a modern (and Moderne) home for trains from three different companies and is finishing it as a forlorn bus shed, was built by the State of California as a terminal for trains crossing the Bay Bridge from the East Bay and beyond — as far as Chico on the old Sacramento Northern.
They built it…but they did not come, at least in terms of adequate numbers of passengers on the long distance interurban trains. Within a couple of years, only the Key System was still running trains across the bridge, and by the late 1950s, that ended too, as the lower deck of the Bay Bridge was converted to accommodate the burgeoning suburban automobile count. Since then, AC Transit buses have been the predominant tenant.
Streetcars ran to the front door of the Transbay Terminal, too — three tracks in front, serving both Muni and the old Market Street Railway. On opening day for streetcars to Transbay, the confusion caused by splitting the terminal between the Ferry Building and Transbay created what is arguably the greatest traffic jam in Market Street history. The last streetcar, on the F-line, ran in 2000, just before the line was extended back to the Ferry Building and on to Fisherman’s Wharf.
To mark the closing of Transbay Terminal and its replacement with what backers envision as something like “Grand Central Station-West,” Caltrans has organized public tours this Friday, July 30, at 12 Noon and 1, 2, 3, and 4 p.m. Meet at the ground floor entrance on Mission Street between First and Fremont Streets. They promise a behind-the-scenes look at areas that have been closed off, including Cuddles Bar, the shoe shine shop, and the Terminal jail. Click here for more information on the new Transbay Center.
UPDATE: Carl Nolte’s great Sunday Chronicle column, “Native Son,” has now been posted online, with lots of detail, including an interview with Market Street Railway member Grant Ute.
Our 2011 calendar has just gone to the printer. We should have them in stock at our San Francisco Railway Museum around Labor Day. One of our best contributors over the years is Market Street Railway member Bill Storage, who takes fantastic night shots in particular.
In Bill’s photo blog, “The Eye Game,” he describes what went into some of his distinctive historic transit shots, like this one of a California Street cable car. It’s well worth a read, even for non-shutterbugs.
In this era of digital photography where the governing mantra seems to be, “No problem, we’ll fix it in Photoshop,” Bill demonstrates a dedication to traditional methods, including the use of old-fashioned flashbulbs, sometimes in multiple arrays, to get just the right lighting effect. Bill’s photography makes scenes we’ve seen over and over again look fantastically fresh. A rare gift.
Bill’s work is reminiscent to me of a man I consider the greatest railroad photographer of all time. His name was O. Winston Link and he chronicled the dying days of steam on the Norfolk & Western Railroad. He died in 2001. Three years later, a museum celebrating his photography opened in Roanoke, Virginia.
Link was a commercial photographer with an affinity for trains. When he heard that the N&W, the last large scale user of steam locomotives, was converting to diesel in the 1950s, he launched a project to capture some of the magic of steam. But he went so far beyond the “three-quarter view” of the vehicle itself to capture slices of America – admittedly posed – that could be described as the photographic equivalents of Norman Rockwell paintings.
Such photos as the 1956 Hawksbill Creek Swimming Hole, shown here, are masterpieces of lighting, with dozens of flashbulbs arrayed just to illuminate the kids in the pond at the precise moment the steam locomotive thunders by on the trestle. No motor drive: one shot only.
Some of Link’s best work is captured in the 2000 book The Last Steam Railroad in America. (If you decide to buy, following this link will earn Market Street Railway a commission from Amazon.com)
The more you look at Link’s work, mostly black and white but some color too, the more evocative it becomes, even if you’re not a railfan.
That’s another thing Bill Storage has in common with the great Link: the ability to put transportation vehicles into a living context, make them seem like an integrated part of their environment, rather than something apart. That’s what we try to do in our calendar every year as well. We’ll post here the moment it’s available at the museum and at our online store.
In today’s news roundup at Streetsblog SF we spotted this, the original BART logo circa 1958. The image comes to us courtesy Eric Fischer, who’s flickr stream is full of bay area transit gems old maps and early BART plans.