Great Muni Photographers Open Show

UPDATE: The Chronicle’s Sam Whiting has an excellent profile of Kevin Sheridan, whose work is featured in “The F-line Inside Out” show, also showing at the Harvey Milk Photo Center. The article includes great photos from the show. With both shows now running there, it’s well worth a visit.

In Transit: San Francisco’s daily commute in words and pictures
Exhibition Dates: November 30, 2012-January 5, 2013
Opening Reception: Friday, Nov. 30, 6:30-9 p.m.


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Click to enlarge.

More great Muni photos are coming to Harvey Milk Photo Center. The Duboce Park facility, which is currently showing F-line photos by two of our members, Kevin Sheridan and Tim Baskerville, opens a second transit-related show tomorrow night. Teaming with our friends at Muni Diaries, they’re presenting In Transit, featuring several top Muni-centric photographs and stories from Muni riders. The photographers include four contributors to our current calendar (on sale at our museum or online): Jeremy Whiteman, Adolfo Echeverry, Brandon Doran, and Jon Wollenhaupt.

There’s an opening reception November 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the center, 50 Scott Street at Duboce Park (N-line stop at the east portal of the Sunset Tunnel).
When you go, don’t miss the other exhibit, The F-Line Inside Out, which runs through January 5th!

Postcard photo credits above (from top left clockwise): Troy Holden, Bob Horowitz, Jeremy Whiteman, Daniel Hoherd, Julie Michelle Sparenberg.

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Last 1070-Class Streetcar Makes It Into Service

More than eight years ago, Muni purchased 11 PCC streetcars from Newark, New Jersey. The F-line was way overcrowded, and because the Newark streetcars had been well maintained, the thought was that they could be put into service quickly.
The last one in the group, No. 1073, started carrying passengers for the first time today.


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PCC No. 1073, honoring El Paso-Juarez, on its first day of F-line service on lower Market Street, November 28, 2012. Jeremy Whiteman photo. Click to enlarge.

This has been some odyssey. Michael Burns, then-general manager of Muni, ordered the 11 ex-Newark streetcars be put into service as quickly as possible, with new exterior paint jobs, ADA modifications, front trolley poles for San Francisco’s back-up operations, and the bare minimum of fix-up work. This was done under a contract with Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania, and the streetcars were shipped back to San Francisco, where a couple went into service.
But then the then-head of operations, Fred Stephens, decreed that the interior of the streetcars, which had not been upgraded because of the desire to hurry them to the street, did not meet his standards. Back to Brookville under another contract.
Back came the streetcars to San Francisco again, with about half going into service. But then, it was found that the wiring was original to the cars and worn out, causing reliability problems. That led to a third contract with Brookville, now winding down. The 11 cars of the 1070-class (numbered from 1070 to 1080) were completely rewired and given new propulsion packages based on the original PCC technology.
The 11 cars were thoroughly tested before going into service, with a major focus on the new door controllers, which were initially balky and unreliable. They’re still not optimal, and Market Street Railway has been advocating with Muni to identify more reliable systems for future PCC renovations.
Several of the 1070 class never made it into passenger service during the first two renovations, so over the past year, regular passengers would be surprised to see “new” streetcars in paint schemes honoring such cities as Toronto or Mexico City.
This last PCC of the class to enter service is hard to miss. It wears an unusual green livery adopted in the 1960s by El Paso City Lines and only used for a few years. This version of the El Paso livery was chosen because an earlier version was identical to the “fruit salad” livery worn by PCC No. 1080, which honors Los Angeles Transit Lines. Both companies were part of National City Lines, which bought up numerous private streetcar companies and converted most of them them to buses after World War II. (Note to railfans: hold the comments on the conspiracy theory, please; it’s been hashed over to death. For those interested in background, go here.)
The crossed American and Mexican flags painted on the streetcar’s front (another authentic touch) reminds riders that the El Paso PCCs were the only ones to run an international route. On the actual El Paso PCCs, the seats were longitudinal — continuous benches against the sidewalls of the cars (like Muni’s Milan trams), so that government inspectors could process passengers more quickly.
El Paso shut down its streetcar lines in 1974, but lately, there has been talk of using six surviving actual El Paso PCCs for a downtown circulator there. (No international service, though.)
Meanwhile, we here in San Francisco say “Bienvenidos” to No. 1073. Your long wait to carry passengers here is over!

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Photo of the Moment: Not a Streetcar, But…

…it’s a window into a wonderful railroad operation in South America, captured by Market Street Railway member and co-chair of our calendar committee Kevin Sheridan. He’s just back from a trip to Chile, where he rode the rails and saw some great scenery, with and without trains.

Here’s a link to Kevin’s Chile portfolio. Be sure to pay special attention to the night shots. This San Francisco shooter has a gift!

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Thankful for Our Muni Partnership

On this Thanksgiving weekend, we’d like to shout out thanks to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), Muni’s parent, for their continuing support of historic transit. There are few agencies in the country that meaningfully support their own legacies, and none that do so in four distinct vehicle modes. (Of course, no one else HAS four vehicle modes like Muni: streetcar/light rail, motor coach, trolley coach, and cable car).

Case in point: O'Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car No. 42, which carried delighted passengers on the California Street cable car line November 4 and 11 as part of this year’s Muni centennial celebrations. Muni’s cable car shop, which performed a mechanical restoration of the car in 2004-5 following a cosmetic restoration by our members, prepared and tested the unique car, while the operations side put it on the street without a hitch.
The special service drew the attention of Diane Harrigan of the website Postcards from San Francisco, who interviewed MSR President Rick Laubscher and created this great video of the day.

On the streetcar side, Operations made a special effort to get the city’s oldest streetcar, No. 578, out for special service on November 11, undertaking the special training of operatiors required. Again, riders were delighted. Robert Lewis sent us the narrated video below, showing a trip to Pier 39 and back. It also shows all the change along the waterfront enabled in part by the attractive, frequent F-line service.

By the way, on that trip we rode alongside perhaps the most knowledgeable living historian of the early years of San Francisco transit, Emiliano Echeverria. He told us with certainty that No. 578 was built in 1896, rather than 1895 as some reports have had it. In those days, he explained, each of the early streetcar lines had its own dedicated fleet, which was color-coded to make the cars easier to spot by intending riders. (The cable cars of this era operated by an early manifestation of our namesake, Market Street Railway Company, were operated and painted the same way.) Emiliano explained that the high number (the top number of this class was 580) indicates it was one of the extra cars bought when the Ellis and O'Farrell line was extended across Market Street to reach the Southern Pacific Peninsula train depot via Fourth Street. (That same route was taken over by Muni’s original F-Stockton line after World War II.) That dates 578 to 1896. (We’ve updated our own records.)

Among buses, the shops also returned 1950 Marmon-Herrington trolley coach to service and also ran 36-year old Flyer No. 5300 in its as-delivered Landor livery.

There’s more to come in the bus department in the coming month, which we’ll tell you about soon. For now, we hope you share our thanks to Muni’s team in bringing history to life.

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Photo of the (Past) Moment: Unforgettable

Market Street Railway member Bob Davis saw our post on the return of Powell Street cable car No. 26 to the fleet, wearing the green and cream livery Muni introduced after World War II. It jogged Bob’s memory, and he sent us this photo he took in 1959, of Powell car No. 515 crossing California Street. Powell Street Cable Car No. 515 at the Fairmont Hotel, 1959. Bob Davis photo. Click to enlarge. Ever since people first crested Nob Hill… — Read More

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Celebrating Civic Activism – With a Cable Car

Powell cable car No. 26 reenters service in its 1947 livery, November 14, 2012. On the running board, from right to left: SFMTA Chair Tom Nolan, Vice Chair Cheryl Brinkman, Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, MSR President Rick Laubscher, MSR board member Bruce Agid. Frank Zepeda photo. The news media that covered the return of Powell cable car No. 26 to the fleet a few days ago missed a major point. To them, it was just another spruced-up cable car… — Read More

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Singing Operators’ Praises

The often unsung heroes (and heroines) of the F-line are the operators. We saw that again last Sunday during the special service Muni put on that day (and this coming Sunday as well) as part of its centennial celebration. Case in point: Ronna Brown. An 18-year Muni veteran, Ronna has worked the F-line for several years, though currently she’s a yard starter at Green Division, getting LRVs ready for their runs. She was out last Sunday (and will be again… — Read More

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F-line Photography Exhibit Opening

Following months of preparation, and conveniently positioned in the middle of Muni’s centennial celebration, a new photography show titled “The F Line INSIDE-OUT” is opening. It features photographic works by Tim Baskerville, Kevin Sheridan, and historic images loaned from the SFMTA Archives. The show runs November 9 through January 5, 2013 at the Harvey Milk Photo Center, 50 Scott Street (Duboce Park, N-line). Friday night, November 9, there’s an opening reception from 6-8:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend…and admission… — Read More

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A Great Vintage Day! Don’t Miss Next Sunday!

226 years of Muni history at Market and Spear Streets, all carrying delighted passengers today. Left to right, 1950 trolley coach No. 776, 1912 streetcar No. 1, and 1948 streetcar No. 1006, all Muni vehicles restored to their original condition. They’ll be part of the fleet out next Sunday as well to celebrate Muni’s centennial. So will 1906 cable car No. 42, just out of frame to the right of this shot. That made it 341 years of San Francisco… — Read More

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Getting Ready for Centennial Celebrations

Muni teams have been working overtime to get vintage vehicles ready for special Sunday service tomorrow (November 4) and November 11. MSR member (and Muni operator) Tony Marquardt sent us the snaps in this post, representing the testing going on. Late Saturday morning (November 3), 1906 O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car No. 42, went out for line testing under the expert handling of gripman Val Lupiz. The shot above shows it turning onto California Street from Hyde (it’s ancestral… — Read More

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