Celebrate 99 Years of the J-Church July 10

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How about a Sunday excursion on a 102-year streetcar along a 99-year old streetcar line?  How about growling up through Dolores Park while all the techies and friends in the park stare with mouths agape, asking “how’d I miss THAT?”

It’s the latest Market Street Railway Trolley Tour, Sunday, July 10 from 1:30-3:30, starting and ending at our San Francisco Railway Museum. You’ll roll up Market Street, then out the J-line all the way to Cameron Beach Yard, where the historic streetcars are kept, and back to town.  Great views, beautiful wood paneling and seats on the streetcar, and new friends to make.

Sign up here!  Remember Market Street Railway Members get 25% off, so for them it’s $40.  For non-members, $50.  (But you non-members can join here first and get the discount.)

Join us for the preview of the J-line Centennial and just a plain swell ride on July 10!

 

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First Videos of “White Front” Powell Cable Car 12

Right on schedule, Powell Cable Car 12 returned to service at 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 15, 2016. For the first time in 72 years (back when it was numbered 512), it was wearing the “White Front” livery of our namesake, Market Street Railway Company, which merged with Muni in 1944. The video above shows the 12 leaving the Washington-Mason car barn for the first time in revenue service since its restoration.

The photograph below, taken just few blocks away at Powell and California by the great rail photographer Will Whittaker,, shows how the car looked in service the first time it was in this livery, in 1944. We wrote more about this car, and our initiative to restore historic liveries to the Powell Street cable car fleet here.

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The video below shows the first time Car 12 spun the Powell-Market turntable in revenue service today.

Finally, here’s a shot of two of the many proud parents of Car 12, SFMTA’s Ed Cobean, in overall charge of cable cars, and his maintenance right-hand, Carol Wolther. The first-run gripman, Randy Dea, is ready to go in the background.

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We’ll have much more about this car and our livery restoration program in the next issue of our member newsletter, Inside Track, due out in July.  Meantime, welcome back, Car 12!

 

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“White Front” Cable Car Returns

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Powell Street cable car 12 returns to service today after an extensive rebuilding process that lasted more than two years. Its return marks the completion of a project that Market Street Railway has supported Muni on for more than 20 years. Powell 12 now proudly wears the famous “White Front” livery of our namesake, Market Street Railway Company, that all Powell cars wore from the mid-1930s until 1944, when Muni took over its private competitor, acquiring the Powell cable lines as part of the deal. The livery is very simple: all white on the ends, all green on the sides. That was deliberate. Market Street Railway Company was in increasing financial trouble and wanted to keep labor costs down wherever possible. An earlier Market Street Railway Company livery, displayed on Powell Car 9, featured red window sashes. (The company painted all its streetcars and cable cars in the simpler scheme shown above.)

Since the Powell-Mason streetcar line opened in 1888, the “halfway to the stars” cars have worn numerous liveries (paint schemes) adopted by the five companies that have owned the Powell lines over the past 128 years. From bright yellow to red to green to blue to maroon, the history of Powell liveries is a kaleidoscope of color. Generally, though, the Powell cars were only one color at a time.  (There were interesting exceptions, which we’ll address in the next issue of our newsletter for members onlyInside Track, due out in July.)

In 1973, for the centennial of the first cable car line, one car was reconstructed and painted in the original 1888 livery of the Powell Street Railway Company (a subsidiary of Ferries & Cliff House Railway), thanks to Charles Smallwood, who was then cable car superintendent. The handsome livery on Powell Car 1 was just restored to its 1973 appearance with Market Street Railway’s help.

The maroon and sky blue livery was so well liked that the rest of the fleet was painted in a simplified version of it during the cable car system rebuilding of the 1980s. However, one car, Powell 3, was left in the previous Muni green and cream livery. This gave us, and some folks at Muni, an idea. Why not share other vintage Powell liveries with today’s riders? So over the past 30 years, as Powell cars went into the carpentry and paint shops for major rebuilding, various vintage liveries were applied to them.  Here’s a look at all of them. (Scroll down to the thumbnails of the various cable cars and click on any of them for the story of that car and its livery.)

The wonderful restoration work is a tribute to Muni’s dedicated cable car crafts workers. Market Street Railway helped by researching the liveries, preparing drawings and specifications and creating and purchasing decals for the cars that replicate the original owners’ logos (which were hand-lettered in the early decades of the cable cars.

Car 12’s debut marks the last of nine different liveries worn by Powell cars. Most of them are on the street most days of the week. We are working with Ed Cobean, Muni’s current cable car boss, to have all of them out, if possible on Muni Heritage Weekend this year, September 24-25.

Welcome back to this important piece of San Francisco history, bringing the famous “White Front” livery back to Powell Street for the first time in 72 years!

 

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“Streetcar San Francisco” July 20

resizedimage.phpOur friends at the Western Neighborhoods Project have a dandy evening planned at the historic Balboa Theater on Wednesday, July 20.

It’s called “Streetcar San Francisco: Transit Tales of the City in Motion” The fourth annual Western Neighborhoods Project movie night at the Balboa Theatre will feature archival footage, new and original short films, highlights from the OpenSFHistory collection, and other historically-inspired surprises around the theme of San Francisco public and private transit.

Woody LaBounty and David Gallagher will host and narrate and there’ll be trivia and prizes too.

The program begins at 7:00 p.m. and they say it will sell out, so they advise to get your tickets early. You can do that here.

We’re sad to say that the B-Geary will not serve the Balboa Theater for this event. (If you tried to catch it, you’d be almost 60 years too late.) But the 31 Balboa trolley coach will take you there (just not this particular one — Muni’s vintage 1950 Marmon-Herrington  trolley coach, saved in 1977 as the very first project of Market Street Railway).

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Seriously, the Western Neighborhoods Project is a great group, one of the most active and creative history groups in the city. We’re glad to be the source of many of the film clips of San Francisco streetcars you’ll see on July 20!

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