‘Tis the Season


Our elves were out and about this rainy Sunday, making sure the F-line streetcars, whether naughty or nice, all got their wreaths mounted on the front end for the holiday season. At the 17th and Castro terminal, now reopened after renovations to the surrounding Jane Warner Plaza, Market Street Railway volunteers Shanan Delp, William Watt, and Jeremy Whiteman.

10372210_10152541444561239_2408627319082403510_nJeremy has been a busy guy, helping out on cable car decorating as well, as indicated in this post from our Facebook group. We like to see as many folks as possible involved in making the historic streetcars and cable cars look great for the season.

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Special Sale at Our Museum


Not just “Black Friday,” but an entire weekend of discounts, giving you a chance to save on those unique gifts for friends — or yourself! Our exclusive field guide to the historic streetcars and cable cars, ON TRACK. Our exclusive full color 2015 “Museums in Motion” calendar. An array of apparel, cards, posters, bookmarks and more we design ourselves  and you can’t find anywhere else.

Our Members, who always get an 10% off all merchandise, can apply their discount after they take the initial 15% savings, making this an exceptional opportunity for them. For you non-members, it’s a great reason to join Market Street Railway right now. The proceeds from your membership and purchases support our non-profit’s mission of preserving historic transit in San Francisco.

So come to our San Francisco Railway Museum this weekend, or shop online! (Online, when you check out, enter the coupon code stockton100 for the 15% discount. Members then add their discount code, shown on the checkout page, to get their additional 10% savings.)

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Gratitude: Big Picture and Closeup

Haight Street, West from Central Avenue

On this Thanksgiving weekend, we’re grateful for many things.

We’re grateful for the ongoing support of our members, donors, volunteers, and neighborhood, business, and labor groups in providing strong advocacy for San Francisco’s historic streetcars and cable cars.

We’re grateful for the hard work of so many employees of our preservation partners at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) in keeping Muni’s vintage transit vehicles on the street, looking good, and running safely.

We’re grateful for the leadership of SFMTA’s Ed Reiskin and John Haley and their senior teams, and of course their Board of Directors, led by Chair Tom Nolan and Vice Chair Cheryl Brinkman. And for the support we’ve received from so many Mayors and Supervisors over the decades.

These are “big-picture” thanks. But there’s a world of “closeup” thanks to share too. Including the photo above — or more specifically what it represents. It’s Haight Street between Central and Masonic avenues, just before Thanksgiving 1906; specifically, a bakery selling mince and squash pies for a quarter. It’s a detail in a wider shot that’s the subject of the Thanksgiving post of the great new blog recently launched by SFMTA.

The blog, Moving SF, which carries all kinds of news about the city’s transportation operations, also includes recurring posts featuring photos from the SFMTA Archives. This is possible because of a strengthened commitment by the agency to preserve its photographic past. Some of the work came from staff photographers documenting the original Municipal Railway, founded as a city agency in 1912. But other images, including hundreds of rare glass plates, came from old rival United Railroads, which became the Market Street Railway Company in 1921 and was merged into Muni in 1944.

For decades, these glass plates languished, largely forgotten, at times neglected, even sometimes stolen. Many ended up in the hands of individual preservationists; in recent years volunteers including Emiliano Echeverria have reunited many of these lost glass plates with the SFMTA Archive. Large glass plate negatives provide incredible detail not usually available from smaller film negatives. The SFMTA blog makes it possible to share these marvelous snapshots of history with thoughtful curation, in this case by Jeremy Menzies. Here’s the wider shot, with the detail indicated by the dotted lines on the upper right of the image.

One geek-out observation: here on Haight, United Railroads went to the expense of replacing the tracks of the old standard gauge cable car line, badly damaged in the Earthquake and Fire, with brand new standard gauge streetcar tracks. But just six blocks to the north, on Fulton Street, the company left identical cable car tracks in place and ran streetcars over them for the next 41 years!

Haight Street, West from Central Avenue
We’re grateful for SFMTA’s commitment to their Archives, which fall under the purview of SFMTA Marketing Director Candace Sue. And we’re grateful for the dozens of photographers whose images of San Francisco’s transit history have been donated to our Market Street Railway Archives. Led by our Education Committee chair, Alison Cant, these images are being curated by volunteers led by Mike Sheridan and Bob Strachan, to whom we are also grateful.

Our members are now seeing Market Street Railway Archives images in every issue of our quarterly member newsletter, Inside Track.  Join here to get Inside Track delivered to you four times a year, along with the other benefits of Market Street Railway Membership. Your membership helps us continue the advocacy and support of San Francisco historic transit, including our own archival activities — and of course, this website.

We incurred significant one-time expenses these past few months rebuilding this site from scratch on a proven, robust platform that gives us better capabilities, including the ability to post our own archival images more frequently, as you’ll see in the coming weeks. We’ve mailed a year-end donation letter to our members, outlining our needs and asking for your help. Members and non-members alike can help us by donating securely here. Any amount is welcome.

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving to all!



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Thanks for the Green!

P1060109One hundred Thanksgivings ago, Muni was laying streetcar track at the spot you see here, and finishing up the Stockton Tunnel in the background, all to create the original F-line, the F-Stockton, which was initially built to carry crowds to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Fast forward to today, when Muni is building a rail line under Stockton Street — the new Central Subway, which will be an extension of the T-Third line when it opens, slated for four years from now.

Constructing the Union Square Station on lower Stockton required rerouting all traffic, including the 8x, 30, and 45 bus lines, off the street while it was dug up. Businesses have been suffering. But for this holiday season, they’ve laid artificial turf over the first two blocks of what’s normally the Stockton Street roadway to cover up the excavation.

People love it.

The project is called Winter Walk, and there’s a series of events that go with it. It runs through New Year’s Day, after which construction starts again. That means those two blocks of green will still be in place on December 29, the 100th anniversary of the opening of the first F-line. Sounds like a good time and place to raise a glass to Muni’s first 100 years on Stockton Street. If anyone’s interested, we’ll help!

And by the way, drop by our San Francisco Railway Museum to see our new Exhibit, “Fair, Please,” showing how Muni came of age by building lines to serve that 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exhibition. If you can’t make it down, you can read an archive article about the 1915 Fair from our Member newsletter, Inside Track. Join here to get all kinds of unique member-only content. Memberships make great gifts too!


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Shiny Museum for Your Shopping Spree

  We’ve just completed the sealing process on the floor of our San Francisco Railway Museum and it looks fabulous. Yes, those are replica tracks embedded in the “street,” with a “switch” visible at the bottom to take you right to the check-out counter. Which brings us to this: Come on down before Thanksgiving and save 25% on all books. It’s a great way to start your holiday shopping a little early. The museum will be closed Thanksgiving, of course;… — Read More

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Flagship Powell Cable Car Slips Into Service

Without fanfare, the latest product of Muni’s able cable car shops has rejoined the fleet after a full restoration and makeover. And it’s a honey. Powell Street Cable Car No. 1 (not to be confused with its “cousin,” Muni streetcar No. 1), quietly slipped out of the cable car barn and went into service on the Powell-Mason line November 15, following a two-year rebuilding process. Despite its number, Powell No. 1 (full history here) is not the oldest car in… — Read More

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Archival Prints Now at our Museum and Online

Just in time for holiday giving to your San Francisco history-loving friends, eight great new images from the Market Street Railway Archives. You can view them all here. These are quality 8″x10″ prints in double 11″x14″ mattes, perfect for economical ready-made frames in that standard size. The prints were selected by our sharp-eyed volunteer archivists Bob Strachan and Mike Sheridan and depict a variety of streetcar scenes around San Francisco. You can buy them directly at our San Francisco Railway… — Read More

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Taking “White” Literally

Beyond the cool historic streetcars, cable cars, and buses, Muni Heritage Weekend taught some important social history lessons as well. One was part of the program: a tribute to the late Maya Angelou for her teen-age persistence in becoming the first female African-American streetcar conductor in San Francisco. St. Ignatius senior Johnnae D. Sanders gave wonderful readings that illuminated that story both days of the festival. The next issue of our Member newsletter, Inside Track, out at the end of… — Read More

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Streetcars Help Sell Prop. A

San Francisco voters approved Proposition A on the November 4 ballot. It required two-thirds to pass and garnered better than 71%, a strong showing. This means $500 million in new general obligation bonds for capital improvements to San Francisco’s transportation system, including Muni, bicycle infrastructure, streets, and pedestrian safety. Critics of the measure complained the measure was too vague, with no specific projects listed for funding. But we couldn’t help noticing that virtually every “Yes on A” mailer we received at our house,… — Read More

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Muni Heritage Weekend a Huge Success

Muni Heritage Weekend drew thousands of San Franciscans and visitors to the Ferry Building area November 1-2, both for the rare opportunity to ride a mix of vintage streetcars, cable cars, and buses, and for a variety of other family-friendly attractions. The event was co-sponsored by Muni’s parent, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), and Market Street Railway. The oldest vehicle operating for the weekend, 1896 streetcar No. 578, drew the most attention as it took happy passengers on… — Read More

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Great Heritage Saturday! Come Sunday!

What a start to Muni Heritage Weekend on Saturday (November 1, 2014). 1938 White motor coach No. 042, Muni’s oldest surviving bus, was packed with happy riders all day.The only remaining original O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car drew stares and shutterbugs all along the California cable car line on every run.San Francisco’s two oldest surviving passenger streetcars, No. 578 (1896, above) and Muni’s famed No. 1 (1912, below) were the stars of the streetcar show.  No. 578 in particular,… — Read More

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