When We Actually Built Our Own Transportation

An article on BART’s new cars stirred up a hornet’s nest of comments lamenting that we don’t build anything here any more — specifically transit vehicles. We’re not going to wade into that discussion (but feel free to clink the link and comment there). Coincidentally, though, that news story appeared the same day a reader in Idaho, Noel Anthony Cimino, submitted this photograph to us for publication. Here’s what he wrote:

> “This is a photo of my dad, Joseph L. Cimino, working on constructing a Market Street Railway Streetcar in the late 1920s. He’s standing to the right in the photo. It looks like he’s attaching the buzzer button that was used to announce to the carman that you wished to get off at the next stop. This photo was taken at the Elkton shops located at Ocean and San Jose Avenues.”
As some of our readers know, Muni’s old private competitor, for whom our non-profit is named, built 250 streetcars at the old Elkton Shops, using its own workforce. (For its part, Muni bought dozens of streetcars from companies who built them in San Francisco — Holman (1912-13) and Bethlehem Steel (1923).
We can’t tell which of Market Street Railway’s streetcars Mr. Cimino and his fellow craftsmen were working on. If it was the late 1920s, it wasn’t No. 798, which was built in 1924. No. 798 is the sole survivor of this “streetcar factory,” which employed many San Franciscans in good jobs for years (just as Elkton’s successor, Muni’s Curtis E. Green Light Rail Facility, does at that same location today). Both our non-profit and Muni have spent a lot of time bringing No. 798 back from the dead after it was rescued from destruction in the 1980s.

There’s still considerable electrical and mechanical work to be done on No. 798, but when it’s finished, this large, high-capacity double-ended streetcar will be one of the workhorses of the fleet — perfect for hauling crowds to and from Giants’ games, as well as carrying passengers in daily service on the E- and F-lines for decades to come. We portray No. 798’s future in our exclusive historic travel series image (available as a poster, matted print, notecard, or magnet online or at our San Francisco Railway Museum).
At the museum, you can also see a miniature streetcar of this class hand-built by the same Elkton Shops crafts workers who built the real things. Mr. Cimino may have even had a hand in that model. Surrounding the model, you can view a photo display telling the story of the old Elkton Shops and other operations of our namesake, Muni’s erstwhile privately owned competitor.

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All cars built at Elkton Shops proudly wore this decal, preserved here on sole survivor No. 798: "This Car a San Francisco Product, Built in Our Own Shops. Market St. Ry. Co."

We’re all about preserving historic transit in San Francisco. We help Muni do that, but we’re not part of Muni, nor do we receive any government funding for our efforts. We count on memberships and donations. If you join our organization now, you’ll receive the new issue of our member newsletter, Inside Track, with its exclusive series on the history of America’s first public transit system — Muni — in this, its centennial year. And we’ll send you the last issue as well, with the first installment of that series. We appreciate your help in keeping vintage streetcars and cable cars as a vibrant part of the San Francisco scene.

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Photo of the Moment: Ride and Relax in the Rain

FINALLY some much needed rain today, and to greet it, the latest 1070-class streetcar to go into service following rewiring, with a little bonus.

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PCC No. 1078 at the F-line Wharf terminal on its first day back carrying passengers, January 19, 2012. Click to enlarge.

PCC No. 1078 honors San Diego, whose original PCCs carried a special slogan above the windows: “Ride & Relax.” Their original PCCs did not have those little oval windows, called “standee windows” above the main windows, so on Muni’s tribute livery, the slogan was put on the lower panel of the door side instead, while other minor changes in the lettering were made to avoid confusion between historic San Diego transit routes and current Muni ones.
But when San Diego restored a PCC (ex-Muni, by the way) to run on their downtown San Diego Trolley loop with their modern LRVs last year, they found a way to fit the motto between the main windows and the standee windows. So, we did too, on the non-door side at least. Thanks to a contribution from one of our members and graphic work by our Dave Dugan, we created a decal design that closely resembles the original lettering. It was installed by the crew of Muni’s Carole Gilbert, just in time for No. 1078’s return to revenue service. Thanks to everyone involved, including Liz WIlmes, whose company has done a great job of making decals for cable cars and streetcars alike.
This is the fourth of the 11 cars in the 1070-class to return to service after rewiring. The fifth, Toronto No. 1074, should be joining them within a few days.

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Flood of New Faces on the F-line


PCC No. 1070, in 1953 Newark livery, testing on The Embarcadero, January 15, 2012. Copyright Jeremy Whiteman.

MLK Day Weekend saw a surfeit of unfamiliar PCCs on the F-line, as the 1070-class of streamlined streetcars showed up in force. Some were in passenger service, having been accepted by Muni from the contractor, Brookville Equipment of Pennsylvania, following complete rewiring, installation of some new propulsion components, and other work. At this writing, three of the 11 PCCs in that class have been accepted: Nos. 1071 (honoring Minneapolis-St. Paul, the first city this group of cars served, from 1946-1952), 1079 (Detroit) and 1080 (Los Angeles Transit Lines).
On the verge of acceptance, having just passed its 1000-mile test period, No. 1078 (San Diego) was out on the F-line for final testing.
Also on the line being tested, Nos. 1070 (honoring Newark, where this group of cars ran from 1953-2003), 1072 (Mexico City), 1074 (Toronto).


At Muni Metro East on January 16, 2012, PCC No. 1076 tows its sibling No. 1075 off the trailer arriving from Brookville Equipment Company before taking its place for the trip back to Pennsylvania. No. 1076 is the last of the 11 cars in the 1070-class to leave San Francisco for rewiring at Brookville.

Meanwhile, the last of the 11 cars in this group left San Francisco for Brookville today. To get on the trailer for the trip, No. 1076 (Washington, DC) had to tow returning No. 1075 (Cleveland) off the trailer first. No. 1075 will go into testing soon, along with No. 1073 (El Paso-Juarez) and No. 1040 (Muni’s own), which both returned recently from Brookville. No. 1077 (Birmingham) is at Brookville now being rewired, completing this set of cars.
You can see when each car goes into passenger service by checking our exclusive streetcar fleet status page here.
One more note: Muni’s flagship Car No. 1 took a brief fling on Taraval Street last week, just for a little exercise. Contrary to one report, it was not testing. The car is waiting for its inaugural event in February on a date soon to be determined. We’ll let you know as soon as we do.

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Third Rewired PCC on the Street

Muni PCC streetcar No. 1080, representing Los Angeles Transit Lines, has been accepted by Muni from contractor Brookville Equipment Company and is carrying passengers on the F-line today. For details on the rewiring program and other streetcars involved, click here.
You can always see exactly which streetcar is where on the F-line here. And you can see the status of every streetcar in the fleet here.

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San Francisco’s Past on Tap in Two Unique Ways

Here in the world’s tech center, we expect to be amazed by new things. But it’s a special treat to be amazed by something old. Or in this case, two things that are old today but were once new. Exhibit A, brought to our attention by Todd Lappin, Market Street Railway board member and curator of one of the city’s best neighborhood blogs, Bernalwood. Todd reported on this incredible collection of super-high-resolution aerial photographs that covered the entire city…in 1938.… — Read More

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Second Rewired PCC Accepted by Muni

Muni has finished testing on the second of the rewired 1070-class of streamliner PCCs. No. 1079, honoring Detroit, started regular service on the F-line today. PCC No. 1079, honoring the Detroit Department of Street Railways, turns the corner from Mission onto The Embarcadero during its first stint in F-line service in 2008. Frank Zepeda photo. As regular readers know, these 11 streetcars were acquired from New Jersey Transit in 2004 after finishing a 50-year career Newark. After repainting and other… — Read More

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