Just Hear Those Sleigh Bells Jingling


Decorated Milan Tram No. 1818 heading into service on Church Street. Click photo to enlarge.

Trolley bells, actually. Yes, our fantastic volunteers have done it again. The F-line streetcars all feature wreaths, and green Milan tram No. 1818 is kitted out with lights, garlands, and ribbons outside and full holiday decorations inside. You can find where it is with the live F-line map we collaborated with NextMuni to create. (Remember, though, not all the streetcars run all the time.)
We’re delighted our volunteers, led by Alison Cant, are getting lots of recognition for their work. Muni Diaries posted a nice piece with good photos; it has been picked up by other local blogs as well. Thanks to them all.
Next year is Muni’s Centennial, and we’re thinking about a much bigger, and very special decoration project to lead up to the actual centennial date, December 28, 2012. If you’d be interested in volunteering for this effort, click here to learn more and send us an email. And if you’re interested in supporting our volunteers (our only paid staff are the folks at our San Francisco Railway Museum), click here to join or contribute. Thanks.

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Photo of the Moment: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day


Click photo to enlarge

The overcast seems like it’s been with us forever, but here’s a sight to brighten the scene: two of the brightest streetcars in the F-line fleet passing on The Embarcadero the other day. Milan tram No. 1811 wears the yellow and white livery this “Ventotto” class originally wore (“Ventotto”=28,for the year, 1928, when the first ones went into service). PCC No. 1076 evokes the tropics in its aqua and flamingo orange paint job, jarring for Washington DC until you read the story behind it.
No. 1076 is now the only one of the 1070 class that hasn’t yet been sent to Brookville Equipment Company for rewiring. This class all had unreliable door motors after previous work had been done by Brookville on them, but Muni’s shops substituted never-used but vintage door motors from a stash they acquired from Pittsburgh when that city abandoned its last PCCs. The doors on 1076 have operated very well ever since, while Muni continues to have problems getting the new, “modern” door systems its engineer and Brookville selected for the remaining cars in this class to work reliably. (Market Street Railway has urged Muni to NOT change 1076’s door motors when it goes, as it must, to Brookville for badly needing rewiring, and to strongly consider going back to the traditional door motor system for PCCs.)

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From Russia, With Ink

106 tattoo Muni Diaries.jpeg

Photo courtesy Muni Diaries; click to enlarge. And no, we don’t know the complete wording of the tattoo.

Well. Tough to know where to start on this one. We know lots of streetcar fans, including many who REALLY love a particular vehicle. Our friends at Muni Diaries shared a photo of a tattoo last year of Muni PCC No. 1010. But at least that streetcar serves the F-line daily, meaning hundreds of thousands of people have seen and/or ridden it, and have some basis for being smitten.
But today’s Muni Diaries feature, showing 1912 Moscow-Orel Russia tram No. 106, takes this to a new level, since the streetcar hasn’t appeared on the street at all since the San Francisco streetcar centennial parade of 1992, and only barely saw service in the final Trolley Festival in 1987. (It’s a long-term restoration project of ours…so long-term that we don’t have a web page for it yet…but we can tell you that it was a gift to Mayor Dianne Feinstein from the then-Soviet Union, and needs a ton of work, including disabled accessibility modifications and a full body and mechanical renovation before it could operate.)
Yet someone, identified only as Alex in the story, loves No. 106 enough to embellish his forearm with it. It’s possible he saw it at our restoration facility at Market and Duboce where it was kept for years. Recently, though, it and our highest-priority project, Market Street Railway Car No. 798 were moved under cover, so it’s not in public sight any more. That facility has experienced numerous break-ins in the past year, apparently by scavengers and/or homeless people who have slept on the property and vandalized those two streetcars, so we felt it prudent to get them out of harm’s way until the day funds can be raised to complete its restoration. Maybe we should sell tattoos…

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Photos of the Moment: A Different View

The other day, we talked about helpful Muni operators on the Boat Tram. Here’s a different angle on that, literally. The cruise ship Crystal Symphony called at Pier 35 yesterday, with relatives on board. A tour gave us the chance to snap a few shots from a vantage point San Franciscans rarely experience. That includes sweeping views of the Wharf area with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, and, in this case, two F-line streetcars, No. 1053 (Brooklyn) approaching Pier 39 and No. 1015 (Illinois Terminal) turning from Beach onto The Embarcadero. The World War II merchant ship S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien and submarine U.S.S. Pampanito are visible just beyond Pier 39; the Piers of Fort Mason, proposed terminal of the historic streetcar extension, can be seen just below the Golden Gate Bridge archway over the Civil War-era Fort Point.


Click photos to enlarge

In my San Francisco lifetime, I’d never had this exact vantage point (unless you count an occasional trip in a news helicopter back in my reporter days). Off the bow, above, a head-on shot of Coit Tower almost at eye level, with a foreground of the eclectic mix of sheds behind the historic facade of Pier 35. From the ship’s port side, below, spectacular views over the finger piers of downtown and the Bay Bridge. Certainly a different perspective.
Now to finally get a cruise ship terminal worthy of our city…

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Photo of the Moment: All-Inclusive Cruise

Among F-line operators, there are many who appreciate the history of the vintage streetcars. One of them, Jose Alvarez, often goes the extra mile to share that history with his passengers. I snapped this photo of Jose yesterday while he was crewing the “boat tram.” He’s explaining to the visitor that this car came all the way from Blackpool, England, and is the only one operating in transit service in the U.S. Sometimes he tells kids on board, “it’s the… — Read More

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Trains in the Plane Place

Well, sort of. We get out to SFO a lot coming and going on business trips, and have had some nice surprises there over the years, like the great display of model trains they had in the International Terminal back in 2009. We also keep seeing plugs for the F-line popping up around the airport. Here’s a current one up in Terminal One, featuring PCC No. 1078, painted in tribute to San Diego (but with the actual words “San Diego”… — Read More

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Congratulations, Mayor Lee!

It’s official: Ed Lee is now the elected Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco. We’re delighted. We congratulated him today at Boulevard restaurant as the boat tram sailed past on the Mission Street loop — a good omen. Mayor Ed Lee (right) inspects newly restored 1912 Muni streetcar No. 1 with SFMTA Transportation Director Ed Reiskin (Center) and Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher. Seriously, the Mayor has clearly demonstrated his support of SFMTA/Muni in general and… — Read More

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Thank You, SPUR!

SPUR is one of the great urban planning non-profits in the world. Formally named San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, the organization is widely respected as a powerful and responsible advocate for making our city more livable as well as economically strong and esthetically beautiful. Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher was one of four San Franciscans honored last week with Silver SPUR awards, given annually for helping make “San Francisco and the Bay Area a better place to live… — Read More

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Superhero Streetcars?

Okay, so we admit it — as wonky as our members and friends can get about streetcars, here’s something we hadn’t thought of before. Streetcars as superheroes. Or at least anthropomorphized with some swagga. Left to right, we’ve got 1912 Car No. 1, an orange Milan tram (love the designer look), Muni No. 162 in its 1950s “Wings,” the Blackpool “boat tram” (no hat, thank you), and Muni No. 130 in its 1940s blue and gold. They’re the work of… — Read More

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Safe From the Weather At Last

Two vintage streetcars, one of them Market Street Railway’s highest restoration priority, are now safe from the elements after being moved this week to the new Cameron Beach Yard streetcar canopy. 1924 Market Street Railway Co. car No. 798, last of its kind, is backed into sheltered storage at Muni’s Cameron Beach Yard, November 1, 2011. Click on photo to enlarge. Market Street Railway Company streetcar No. 798, hand-built in 1924 by San Francisco crafts workers just across the street… — Read More

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