Inside the Mint!

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For a quarter-century, Market Street Railway has shared the space at Duboce Avenue and Buchanan and Market Streets with Muni, using it to restore streetcars for the F-line. Looming above all the while, the formidable U.S. Mint.  In fact, its original entrance, at 350 Duboce Avenue, sits inside our facility, though it was sealed off before the street was closed and turned into a Muni right-of-way in the 1970s.

We’ve seen the outside a thousand times, but never the inside — until now, thanks to this great essay by Andrew Dudley at Haighteration.  Check it out.

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Volunteers Urgently Needed (Sunday 10/3)

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Market Street Railway urgently needs volunteers for the Castro Street Fair this coming Sunday, October 3.
We need volunteers to staff our booth where we will be selling merchandise and recruiting new members. Shifts are flexible from 10:30-6:30 and anyone willing to work 4 hours will receive a free t-shirt. Contact us at [email protected] if you are available.

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175 Years of Rail on St. Charles Avenue

St. Charles streetcar

It is the oldest street railway line in America, and it’s not in San Francisco. Market Street has had rail transit for 150 years now — the longest duration on a city’s main street — but today, St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans celebrates 175 years of rail transit.
The parallels between the two cities’ oldest street rail lines are almost eerie.  Like Market Street, St. Charles started with a steam locomotive, on September 26, 1835. Before too long, complaints about noise and soot from neighbors led to steam’s replacement with horsecars.  Looking for something faster, New Orleans tried an experimental stretch of line in 1869 powered by a cable — an overhead cable — with a cable clamp invented by Civil War Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard that was later adapted for use in San Francisco.
Cables never took in New Orleans, and after experiments with different kinds of fueled engines, the St. Charles line was electrified in 1893, and has been operated by electric streetcars ever since.
The current fleet was acquired in 1923 from streetcar builder Perley Thomas of North Carolina.  The “Perley” has become the symbol of New Orleans, even pictured on a postage stamp.
Perleys ran all over New Orleans during its streetcar heyday, including on the Desire line immortalized by Tennessee Williams in the play “Streetcar Named Desire.” But when the line on Canal Street (New Orleans’ main street) closed in 1964, many Perleys were sold off, including two now in San Francisco: No. 913 (bought from a museum with help from Market Street Railway and awaiting restoration) and No. 952, which came on a lease from New Orleans’ NORTA transit agency in 1998 after a second life there on that city’s Riverfront line before replica streetcars were acquired to meed ADA requirements.
No. 952 could never run on the St. Charles line again, because the streetcars allowed on that line are specified by law as part of its federal historic designation (it would have to be regauged to New Orleans’ wide gauge besides). Nonetheless, No. 952 could be forgiven a little strut in its step today, taking pride in its siblings back in New Orleans.
Want to learn a little more? Check this Wikipedia entry
Happy 175th Anniversary, St. Charles line!

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City Guides Streetcar History Tour (Oct 31)

Market Street Railway and San Francisco City Guides are collaborating on a memorable and unique tour along Muni’s historic F-line on Sunday, October 31st. Take part in a festive and informative trip through history!
Join tour guides Ethan Chickering from City Guides and Philip Hoffman from Market Street Railway for an exclusive event aboard one of our “Museums in Motion”. This unique tour celebrating the City’s rich transit history will begin at the San Francisco Railway Museum and will take place from 1-3pm.
Come aboard a vintage streetcar, learn how transit shaped San Francisco and enjoy Halloween in historical high style! Discover interesting facts about famous Fisherman’s Wharf, traditional North Beach, the scenic Embarcadero and colorful Ferry Plaza, the busy Financial District, world famous Powell & Market, classic Civic Center, imposing Mint Hill and the lively Castro. Period costumes are highly encouraged!
Refreshments will be provided upon conclusion of the tour at a hosted reception inside the San Francisco Railway Museum, where you may view the current exhibition: All The Way Out Market, celebrating the 150th anniversary of rail transit on Market with a special ‘then and now’ photographic exhibit. This special exhibit pairs historic images with contemporary photographs taken in the exact locations, with a corresponding F-line streetcar captured in action.
We are offering members and supporters of Market Street Railway an early bird rate of $20 per person. All proceeds go to support Market Street Railway, and our work to keep San Francisco’s transit history alive. The San Francisco Railway Museum is a program of the non-profit, all volunteer Market Street Railway organization. Please note: As your ticket purchase will provide funds required to charter the streetcar from Muni, all ticket sales must be final.
Tickets become available to the general public on October 1st, at $25 per person.
Space is limited to just 44 passengers, so don’t delay!
Register online »
**UPDATE: We will be using one of the PCC cars in Muni colors, either No. 1050 or No. 1051, to ensure good acoustics and weather protection. We will not be using the boat tram as mistakenly reported earlier. Sorry for any confusion.**

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Castro Street Fair Volunteers Needed (Sunday 10/3)

Georg Lester photo. The biggest community event of the year along the F-line is coming up: the Castro Street Fair on Sunday, October 3. We need volunteers to man our “booth,” which will be Muni’s oldest streetcar, No. 578, a San Francisco car built in 1895. We are seeking volunteers to staff the booth where we will be selling merchandise and recruiting new members. Hope you can make it for all or a portion of the day. One of our… — Read More

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F is for Fifteen: Happy Birthday, F-line!

Today, September 1, 2010, marks the 15th birthday of the permanent F-line. On this date in 1995, regular service began on the line between Transbay Terminal and Castro Street.  It was the culmination of more than a dozen years of advocacy and action by Market Street Railway to restore traditional streetcars to Market Street following the opening of Muni Metro, which moved the J, K, L, M, and N lines from the surface of Market into a new subway. The… — Read More

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