Centennial of the (Original) F-line

F-4a  car 4  leaving Stockton Tunnel IB  7-30-46small copyOn December 29, 1914, the original F-line opened: the San Francisco Municipal Railway’s F-Stockton line. It was Muni’s sixth streetcar line and was given impetus by the huge Panama-Pacific International Exposition which opened just two months later at the end of the new F-line on Chestnut Street, in what’s now the Marina District.

The original F-line ran just one block east of the Powell Street cable car lines (then owned by private competitor United Railroads). The F-line, though, provided a much faster trip to Chinatown and North Beach because of the Stockton Tunnel, completed just one day before the line opened. The Stockton Tunnel was built primarily for streetcars, but unlike Muni’s later Twin Peaks and Sunset Tunnels, it was shared with other vehicles.

The photo above, from our archives, shows Muni streetcar No. 9 emerging from the south portal of the Stockton Tunnel in 1946, ready to run the final five blocks past Union Square to its terminal at Market and Stockton. (Soon, the line would be extended over former Market Street Railway tracks to reach the S.P. Depot at Third and Townsend Streets.)

The wonderful 1916 photo below, courtesy of the SFMTA Archives, shows a scene almost unimaginable today: Stockton and Vallejo Streets with no one on the sidewalks and just one parked car. Chinatown did not yet reach this far west. Today, Stockton Street is considered Chinatown’s main commercial street, with Grant Avenue primarily for tourists.muni03_historic_handout_web

Muni records from 1920 show that it took 17 minutes to ride the F-line its whole length, from Market and Stockton to Chestnut and Scott.  Today, it seems like it takes 17 minutes to ride just the 6 blocks on Stockton through Chinatown from Columbus to the tunnel on the 30-Stockton, the trolley bus line that replaced the original F-line streetcars in 1951.

Okay, we exaggerate. No question, though, that the congestion along Stockton Street (along with strong demands from leaders of the Chinatown community for better transit) was a major driver of the new “Stockton Tunnel,” the Central Subway, which is being built underneath Fourth and Stockton Streets (including underneath the existing tunnel) to carry Muni’s T-line trains starting in 2019.

But that’s the future. Today, we celebrate the past: the centennial of the original F-line and the Stockton Tunnel. Happy 100th Birthday!


No Comments on Centennial of the (Original) F-line

Happy 102nd Birthday, Muni!

Muni, Opening Day, 12/28/1912On December 28, 1912, America’s first big city transit line owned by the people themselves opened. In San Francisco, on Geary Street. The San Francisco Municipal Railway broke the pattern of transit systems owned by private companies.

This shot, from the SFMTA Archives, shows some of the 50,000 San Franciscans who showed up to cheer “their” new streetcars on Opening Day, looking west at the intersection of Grant Avenue and Geary. Car No. 3 is in the foreground, Car No.2 across the intersection, and, leading the parade, Car No. 1, with Mayor “Sunny Jim” Rolph personally serving as motorman.  Car No. 1 still serves as the flagship of Muni’s streetcar fleet, 102 years later, completely rebuilt a few years ago thanks to San Francisco’s strong commitment to its history (with some help from Market Street Railway’s advocacy).  It runs occasionally on the F-Market and Wharves line.

Come to our San Francisco Railway Museum to see the story of Muni’s quick expansion from this first Geary service to a network serving much of the city — completed in just over two years to serve the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. (The museum will be closed December 30-January 1 for inventory and New Year’s Day, but after that will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays on our winter schedule.)

Happy 102nd Birthday, Muni!

No Comments on Happy 102nd Birthday, Muni!

Happy Holidays!

MSR Holiday Card 2014

And, as a reminder, our San Francisco Railway Museum will be closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day.  We’ll also be closed for inventory December 30-31.  Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. December 26, 27, 28, 29 and January 2, 3, 4.  Starting January 5, we go onto our winter schedule for three months, when we’ll be closed Mondays, open Tuesdays-Sundays 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

No Comments on Happy Holidays!

“The Mayoral Limo”



From “Willlie’s World,” the Sunday opinion column of former Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. in today’s San Francisco Chronicle.

“Sometimes I feel like the Rodney Dangerfield of mayors.

“I hopped onto a packed-to-the-rafters F-line trolley the other night and the driver immediately announced, ‘Ladies and gentleman, you are riding in the mayoral limo.’

“To which some guy in the back piped up, ‘They don’t have limos in Mineola.'”

Mayor Brown grew up in the tiny Texas town of Mineola.

Just shows again that you never know who you’ll see on the F-line.

(Thanks to Adolfo Echeverry for the great photo, from our Facebook group.)

No Comments on “The Mayoral Limo”

Cable Car Holiday Tradition

We’ve been loving the decorated cable cars on the Powell and California lines this holiday season (see photo below). The idea of decorated cable cars actually goes back at least 65 years to the last desperate years of the California Street Cable Railway Company. After Muni took over the Powell Cable lines in 1944, “Cal Cable” soldiered on with its three lines: California from Market all the way out to Presidio Avenue (where the car above is pictured, in front… — Read More

No Comments on Cable Car Holiday Tradition

Now THAT’S a Storm!

STORMAGEDDON!  STORMPOCYLPSE! The breathless media hype aside, yes, we actually did have a pretty good soaker on December 11; biggest we’ve seen in a few years (which is like saying that first Budweiser tasted great … after a month in Saudi Arabia). Yet, in context… Now THAT’S a storm. Market, looking east at Church in 1931. That high riding 1550-class Market Street Railway car, on the 8-Market line, just skates across the pond, its Eclipse fender riding the waves.  That Willys Knight… — Read More

No Comments on Now THAT’S a Storm!

Dressed for the Season

On our Facebook Market Street Railway group, photographers are reminding us that the holidays are upon us, and San Francisco’s historic rail vehicles reflect that. Above, Adolfo Echeverry’s great night shot combines PCC No. 1073 (honoring El Paso-Juarez, with wreath supplied by our volunteers) and the cable car turntable at Powell and Market, with its banners promoting holiday shopping across the street at The Emporium (Westfield’s San Francisco Centre). Below, Curley Reed captures Powell cable car No. 10 taking the… — Read More

No Comments on Dressed for the Season