Can We Extend the Jinx?

When the Giants got into the World Series last fall against the Detroit Tigers, we ran a story about F-line PCC No. 1079, painted in tribute to Detroit, and noted that the Tigers had failed to win a world series during the Motor City’s PCC era. Would the specter of a Detroit PCC in Giantstown doom the Tigers? We all know how that turned out — a sweep for our team!
Now, the 49ers are in the Super Bowl against the Ravens of Baltimore, another ex-PCC city (from 1936 to 1963), honored in the F-line fleet by No. 1063. Could the PCC jinx recur?


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Muni PCC No. 1063, painted to honor Baltimore. Bill Storage photo.

It’s not so simple this time. A Baltimore NFL team DID win the NFL Championship during that city’s PCC era — twice, in 1958 (a legendary overtime win over the New York Giants) and 1959 (beating the Giants again).
But wait. That winning Baltimore NFL team wasn’t the Ravens; it was their predecessor, the Colts, who now play in Indianapolis (which never had PCCs, by the way). The Ravens, as football fans know, played in Cleveland as the Browns during that city’s PCC era. Muni has a PCC painted for Cleveland in its fleet, too (No. 1075). And yes, the Browns won multiple NFL Championships while PCCs ran there.
So, unless it turns out to be a jinx to simply HAVE a PCC representing our opponent’s city, it looks like the ‘Niners are on their own this Sunday.
Trivia: the last time BOTH cities in an NFL Championship Game were actively operating PCC streetcars was 1955 — Cleveland (still running the Shaker Heights line) and Los Angeles (which retired its double-ended Pacific Electric PCCs that year but was still running its narrow gauge single-enders under the banner of Los Angeles Transit Lines). If the New England Patriots (representing Boston) had beaten the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game, it would have happened again this year.
Go ‘Niners!

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Getting to the Root of It

We’ve had some questions about the buses serving the F-line during evenings this week. As we learned from MSR member (and Muni employee) Matt Lee via our Facebook group, “DPW [the Department of Public Works] is doing some repair work to the center median between Castro and Guerrero due to the [palm] tree roots damaging the concrete retaining walls and our track crew is checking to make sure there is no damage to the tracks.”

Canary Island palms were chosen to beautify the medians installed along with the F-line tracks on upper Market almost 20 years ago because they were already a tradition on nearby Dolores Street and because they are one of the few mature trees that can be transplanted and survive in urban environments. Only trouble is the root system is shallow and can break up surrounding pavement. When there are streetcar tracks in that pavement, it pays to keep a close eye on things, as Muni is doing here.
By the way, Matt also reports that the F-line with be “bustituted” all day Sunday in anticipation of post-Super Bowl activity.

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Muni’s First Schedule, From Our Archives

One important aspect of Market Street Railway is the preservation of important documents that illuminate San Francisco’s transit history.


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Muni’s first schedule, from the Market Street Railway Archives. Gift of Galen Sarno. Click to enlarge.

The leader of our archival activity, Alison Cant, has sent along this wonderful document, bequeathed to us by the late Galen Sarno (a very generous supporter of our San Francisco Railway Museum, by the way). It’s Muni’s very first schedule, for inbound streetcars on the A-Geary, beginning December 28,1912. If you click to enlarge the photo, you’ll see that eight cars were scheduled (Muni only had ten on hand at the time). It took 28 minutes to go from Tenth Avenue and Fulton Street (Golden Gate Park) to Geary, then all the way downtown to Kearny and Market Streets. Today, the schedule for the 38-Geary is about the same to run from Park Presidio (near 14th Avenue) and Geary to the same point downtown, about the same distance.
The first car of the morning left Tenth and Fulton at 5:30 a.m. The last car of the evening left Kearny and Geary at 1:37 a.m., headed for the barn at Geary and Presidio Avenue (home to Muni trolley buses today).
The more things change…

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“Gliding Beauty” Rejoins Muni’s Streetcar Fleet

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PCC No. 1009, honoring Dallas, near the San Francisco Railway Museum on the F-line, January 17, 2013. Brian Leadingham photo.

Dallas didn’t operate PCC streetcars very long — just 11 years. When they did, just after World War II, they called them “Gliding Beauties” for their streamlined grace.
Today, Muni pays tribute to the streetcars of “Big D” with the first day of passenger service for PCC No. 1009, painted in the original Dallas livery.
Dallas is one of the few cities to ever operate double-end PCC streetcars. (Only the handful of the 5,000 PCCs built in the U.S. between 1936 and 1952 were designed to operate in passenger service from either end.) After Dallas ended streetcar service in 1956, it sold its PCCs to Boston, where railrans referred to them as “Texas Rangers.” Today, Dallas has a vibrant historic streetcar operation on McKinney Avenue and recently acquired one of the original Dallas PCCs for future restoration.
Dallas is also about to start construction of a modern streetcar line serving Oak Cliff (a neighborhood served by its PCCs back when) and has already decided to extend that new line.
Streetcar No. 1009, now wearing the Dallas Terminal & Railway tribute livery, is one of ten double-end PCCs bought by Muni in 1948. It carried San Franciscans on Muni routes until the 1980s. (Go here and click on the other preserved cars in this group, Nos. 1006, 1007, 1008, 1010, 1011, and 1015, to learn about them.)
After retirement, No. 1009 was stored by Muni for possible future restoration but terribly vandalized over the years, capped by a fire that almost destroyed it. Because of its flexibility (operable from either end) and capacity (one of the largest PCCs ever owned by Muni), it was nonetheless sent to Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania for a complete remanufacturing, with spectacular results. No. 1009 has completed testing and is now in passenger service.


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What was left of Muni streetcar No. 1009 as it left San Francisco for restoration in June 2011.


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The interior of streetcar No. 1009 before restoration.

This leaves one additional double-ended Muni PCC yet to rejoin the fleet. No. 1011 is still at Brookville but should return to San Francisco, fully restored, within the next month.

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Happy 150th, London Underground!

We just passed Muni’s Centennial Day, something we think is important for America’s first publicly owned big city transit system. But the London Underground has us beat for longevity by a half-century. The venerable “Tube” is celebrating its sesquicentennial today. It all started with a steam train in 1863, belching fumes in tunnels under central London. The lithograph above shows the Baker Street station when new. Many features at platform level are still visible today. London’s transport history comes to… — Read More

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Here’s to an Historic 2013!

Muni’s first streetcar, No. 1, poses at 11th and Market streets December 28, 2012. Moments earlier, it passed Market and Geary almost exactly 100 years to the minute from its first ever trip from that same location, out Geary with Mayor “Sunny Jim” Rolph at the controls to inaugurate America’s first major publicly owned transit system. Here, it’s flanked by Muni’s oldest operable trolley coach, 1950 No. 776, and its oldest operating motor coach, 1938 No. 042. All carried passengers… — Read More

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