Double Play on 16th Street

Muni launches its new 55-Sixteenth Street bus route today, running from the BART station at 16th and Mission to Mission Bay, serving the new Benioff UCSF Children’s Hospital and everything else in that fast growing neighborhood.

This means that 16th Street will host a double-double of Muni routes:  The five-five and the two-two, much better known as the 22-Fillmore, one of the City’s most venerable transit lines.

Today is the beginning of a big transition for the 22, a very long crosstown line that starts at the Marina Green and makes a giant “L” through Pacific Heights, the Western Addition, Upper Market, the Mission, and Potrero Hill.  Its traditional route (since the very beginnings) has taken it over Potrero Hill on 18th Street to reach Third Street, but once overhead wire is strung along 16th Street (which will somehow take three years, though it used to take three months or less when Muni had large overhead wire crews), the 55 will go away and be replaced by a rerouted 22-Fillmore trolley coach running all the way along 16th to Third.  At that point, the trolley wires on Potrero Hill will be taken over by a rerouted 33-Stanyan — ANOTHER double number route, and, it should be noted, San Francisco’s very first trolley coach route, opened by our namesake, erstwhile Muni competitor Market Street Railway Company in 1935.

In celebration of today’s double play with the 55 and 22, we bring you a 1948 shot from our archives of two 22-Fillmore streetcars passing each other at 16th and Bryant, where both the 55 and 22 now run. Fitting for two reasons: Seals Stadium on the left, where myriad double plays were turned over the decades, and, just out of frame to the right, the Double Play bar, still there today!

The next issue of our Member newsletter, Inside Track, will have a special feature on the history of the 22-Fillmore, with photos you can’t see anywhere else. Join now, and we’ll also send you our feature on one of the world’s most unusual transit lines, the Fillmore Hill counterbalance (which was the northern extension of the 22-line until 1941).

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Roof Job

Powell 1 Bay Taylor 2015 Zach Ho photo

Readers of our quarterly member newsletter, Inside Track, just got the inside scoop on the restoration of Powell Street cable car No. 1. The photo above, posted by Zach Ho to our Facebook group, shows Powell 1, in its 1888 livery, at the Bay and Taylor terminal of the Powell-Mason line.

That photo inspired noted San Francisco historian Emiliano Echeverria to post the photo below, from the Louis L, Stein, Jr. collection. It’s the same cable car — er, at least a part of it — at the same angle, at Golden Gate Park (Fulton Street and Sixth Avenue) in 1894.

This cable car, No. 506, was part of two groups of cars built for the Sacramento Street line. These cars survived the 1906 earthquake and fire, but the original Powell Street fleet did not, so the Sacramento Street cable cars were transferred over to Powell, where the survivors still run today.

506 at 6th and Fulton 1894, Louis Stein collection

As Inside Track readers know, Powell No. 1 was specially put together for the 1973 centennial of the world’s first cable car line (on Clay Street, built by Andrew Hallidie). Muni carpenters removed the roof from car No. 506, the frame of which was in very rough shape, and built a new cable car under that old roof. They salvaged the seats from No. 506 as well.

Painted in the original Powell Street Railway Company maroon and sky blue livery by cable car barn foreman (and rail historian) Charlie Smallwood, the look proved so popular that when the cable car lines were rebuilt from 1982-84, all but one of the Powell cars were repainted into a simplified version of this livery.

Taking inspiration from Powell No. 1 and the one remaining green and cream car (No. 3), Market Street Railway has supported Muni over the last two decades in bringing back other historic liveries once worn by Powell Street cable cars.  There are now eight Powell cars wearing historic liveries, from 1888 to 1982. (One of them, on Car No. 15, represents the Mason Street version of the 1890s livery you see above on No. 506.)

We’ve illustrated all of them, plus the regular Powell livery and two California Street liveries, on a colorful poster available in our online store or our San Francisco Railway Museum.  (We have a streetcar fleet poster, too!)

You can get exclusive news and features delivered to you every three months in Inside Track by joining Market Street Railway.

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Let It Snow (or At least Rain!)


We’ve gotten so used to seeing the orange trams from Milan on Market Street and the waterfront that it can be a tad jarring to see them in their native habitat, especially a scene like this. In an average year, Milan sees snow on seven days or fewer. Of course, that’s seven days more than the annual snowfall in San Francisco, where long-time residents still marvel at the once-in-a-couple-of-decades dustings we get on Twin Peaks!

(The photo at the top, taken in 1985, comes from Heritage Railway magazine by way of our Facebook Group. The shot below comes from a Milan tourist site.)


Here’s hoping we get at least some more rain here soon. After our big storm last month, it’s been dry as a bone!

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