1915 Fair Celebration

PH 0443, Van Ness Ave, c.1915 copy

On February 20, 1915, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition opened. On that opening day, tens of thousands of San Franciscans and visitors paraded north along Van Ness Avenue to reach the fairgrounds at Harbor View (now the Marina District). Tens of thousands more rode streetcars, such as No. 11 (identical to preserved Muni No. 1) shown here on Van Ness in the vicinity of Vallejo Street.

On Saturday, February 21, 2015, you’re all invited to a community celebration marking the fair’s centennial, under the dome of the Palace of Fine Arts (the only surviving structure from the Fair), Lyon and Francisco Streets, from 12 Noon to 5 p.m..  Buffalo Bill Cody, Charlie Chaplin, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and other famous 1915 fair attendees will be there (at least in spirit, and through impersonators). There’ll be dancing, music and plenty of historic displays, including ours. All the details are here.

This weekend is also a great time to visit our San Francisco Railway Museum to see our free exhibit, “Fair, Please,” telling the story of how this monumental exposition helped the young Municipal Railway come of age. If you can’t make it to the museum this weekend, not to worry. The exhibit will run through November, just like the fair did a century ago.

You can also read our story about how Muni served the fair. It’s a reprint from our exclusive quarterly member newsletter, Inside Track, filled with inside information, unique stories and rare photos, most of which we don’t share online. Join us today and we’ll send you the last four issues of this award-winning glossy newsletter.

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Market Street Gets a Closeup

GAR Arch on Market 1886

Peter Hartlaub is one of the best things about the Chronicle today. He mines the newspaper’s archives, finding some real photographic gems along with contemporary news coverage. Then he puts them into context, sometimes in the newspaper itself but more often on his blog on sfgate.com.

Today, his article talks about Market Street’s history. It’s a good read and we recommend it.  You should also look at his blog post from a few days ago, that has lots of additional photos of Market Street in the 1800s, including the one at the top of this post. That’s a temporary “triumphal arch” over Market Street’s relatively new cable car tracks in 1886, celebrating the gathering of the Grand Army of the Republic (Civil War veterans who fought for the Union).

Peter’s pieces dovetail nicely with the talk MSR’s Rick Laubscher will be giving this coming Thursday night, February 19, at the Mechanic’s Institute.  It’s free for Market Street Railway members. Details here.  Hope to see lots of you on Thursday.

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Market Street Past and Future February 19

Looking east on Market Street from Eighth, 1942. Two thousand new apartments are currently being constructed where the old Crystal Palace Market and vacant lot were.

Looking east on Market Street from Eighth, 1941. Two thousand new apartments are currently being constructed where the old Crystal Palace Market and vacant lot were.

On Thursday, February 19 at 6 p.m., the venerable Mechanics’ Institute will present a double-barreled program on the past and future of Market Street, featuring the transportation policy director of SPUR, Ratna Amin, and Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher.

All the details and signups are here.

Market Street Railway members, SPUR members, and Mechanic’s Institute members are free. Public tickets are $15.  Note that we will check those who reserve seats as Market Street Railway members, but you can still join us in time if you’re not a member yet.

Rick will present photographs illustrating Market Street’s history as San Francisco’s main transportation and business artery, with commentary on the different eras the street went through, particularly the long-troubled, now resurgent mid-Market area. He’ll also sign copies of our guidebook, On Track, which will be available for sale at the event.

Ratna will outline the plans now under way to make traveling along Market Street safer and better.  We expect a lively interchange with the audience as well.

If you’ve never visited the Mechanics’ Institute, it is worth the trip all by itself.  Its building at 57 Post Street, designed by noted architect Albert Pissis (who created the classic Emporium facade on Market, among other works) opened in 1910 and has been faithfully preserved. Entering the chess room is like time travel.

Come join us February 19 at the Mechanics’ Institute.

BART Civic Center Station Construction at Market and 7th Streets, late 1960s.

BART Civic Center Station Construction at Market and 7th Streets, late 1960s.

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Rain? Check Out Our Museum (and Big Sale!)

Jewel City

Rain, rain, DON’T go away, we need you. But what to do this weekend amid the raindrops?  How about a trip to our San Francisco Railway Museum, tied into a sojourn through the wonderful Ferry Building Marketplace? Beyond our recently opened exhibit on the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, you can take advantage of a storewide sale on books: 25% off, including the incredibly beautiful book on the fair by Laura Ackley. Get 25% off on our popular guidebook On Track as well, plus numerous local history and transit books. DVDs, including our exclusive narrated 1906 Trip Down Market Street, are also 25% off this weekend.

If you can’t make it down this weekend, you can still capture these rainy day savings by going to the books and media section of our online store and using the savings code 22FILLMORE.

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Party Like It’s 1915!

One hundred years ago this month, San Francisco launched perhaps its greatest party ever. Officially, the nearly year-long fair at Harbor View (now the Marina District) — the Panama-Pacific International Exposition — celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal.  To city leaders and residents, though, it was really a celebration of the city’s own resurrection from the devastating earthquake and fire of 1906. To build excitement about the forthcoming fair, the city installed lights in 1914 that outlined the Ferry Building tower… — Read More

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