A quick reminder: historianand author Woody LaBounty will be speaking at the San Francisco Railway Museum this Saturday, tomorrow, at 2:00 PM. His new book Carville-by-the-Sea: San Francisco’s Streetcar Suburb “vividly recalls one of the quirkiest communities in San Francisco’s rich history” made of retired streetcars and cable cars recycled into homes, shops, bars, and everything else that makes up a neighborhood. San Francisco Railway Museum
77 Steuart Street (map)
San Francisco, CA 94105
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Our first post about Carl Nolte’s Chronicle column on the “not-so-good old days” on Market Street mentioned that back when there were four streetcar tracks on Market, there was less than two feet of clearance between Muni and Market Street Railway Co. streetcars — including the stops where passengers had to stand while behemoth streetcars bore down on them.
This 1935 video, one of the You Tube sources Nolte mentions in his column, shows just how terrifying that tight squeeze was. (It comes up one minute into the video.)
The film itself was a campaign tool in support of two ballot measures — one to build a Muni subway under Market Street, the other to replace streetcars with buses. Both failed, although of course a Market Street subway was eventually built, almost half a century later. (By the way, the segments claiming buses were better than streetcars were filmed in … Oakland.)
Our non-profit has access to a trove of historic motion picture film from all over San Francisco, taken from 1906 through the 1970s. We’ve created some specially narrated segments from that film, available to see at our San Francisco Railway Museum, and we’re working on more. Later this year, we’ll be offering all of those video segments on a DVD available at the museum and here on our website, with all proceeds benefiting Market Street Railway’s programs. We’ll let you know when it goes on sale.
In his San Francisco Chronicle column this week, Native Son Carl Nolte reminds us that, when looking back into history, not to forget there were bad old days as well. He writes about Market Street, “At rush hour, there were so many streetcars on Market – and so much automobile traffic – that the street was nearly impassable.”
Streetcars gridlocked on Market Street in 1922. In the foreground, Lotta’s Fountain is visible on the corner of Market & Kearny. San Francisco Municipal Railway photo.
Long before the Muni Metro subway opened, 18 streetcar lines once shared 4 tracks on the surface of Market Street. Muni’s streetcar lines ran on the outside tracks while our namesake Market Street Railway Company ran on the inside. Nolte notes a major problem:
“The four-track setup was also dangerous – there was only 23 1/2 inches of clearance between the moving streetcars. This meant that people interested in taking a car on the inside track had to inhale when a car on the outside track passed by. Accidents were common.”
Not to worry though, while the F-Market & Wharves historic streetcars are all authentic antiques, the line runs according to modern safety standards. When looking back on history, remember things weren’t perfect and there were both the ups and downs just like today.
Crime in San Francisco has been on the decline lately, with a notable exception. In addition to several high profile accidents and service outages in the several months, crime on board Muni vehicles is up as well. The City Operations and Neighborhood Service (CONS) Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is holding a hearing about crime onboard Muni vehicles on this coming Monday, November 23 at 11:00 AM. Boe Howard, legal aide to committee chair and District 8… — Read More
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In case you haven’t noticed the Blue Angels’ rehearsal flights over San Francisco in the last few day, U.S. Navy Fleet Week kicks off tomorrow with the Parade of Ships beginning at 11:30am. The Blue Angels, courtesy U.S. Navy. Thanks to event sponsor CVS/Pharmacy service to and from this weekends events on the wharves on the F-Market & Wharves historic streetcar will be be free both Saturday and Sunday. Muni will be adding extra service to both the F-line and… — Read More
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Melbourne tram No. 916 on San Francisco’s Market Street. Jamison Wieser photo. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was on hand this morning to personally accept the gift of a tram (as streetcars are known to most of the world) built in 1946 for Melbourne, Australian by John Brumby, MP, State Premier of Victoria. The new addition will join a patchwork fleet of historic streetcars, trolleys and trams which San Francisco has been collecting from around the world. The fleet already… — Read More
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Bikes outnumber cars on Market these days. Jamison Wieser photo. The trial project to reduce traffic on Market Street which started only yesterday has already gone beyond anything we’d expected. For the next 6 weeks, private traffic is being diverted off Market Street at both Eighth and Sixth Streets freeing up Market for bikes, taxis, delivery trucks and Muni’s busses and F-line streetcars. There’s no restrictions from turning onto Market, and while we didn’t expect anyone would choose to get… — Read More
Changes to Market Street effective Tuesday, September 29, 2009 A new chapter begins tomorrow in the life of San Francisco’s grand boulevard. A trial project is beginning which discourages private vehicles traveling eastbound towards the waterfront using Market Street with forced right turns at Eighth Street and again at Sixth Street. The six week trial is part of the Better Market Street Project, a partnership between five city agencies which aims to rejuvenate Market Street as San Francisco’s civic backbone.… — Read More
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Our 2010 Museums in Motion streetcar and cable car calendar has arrived and is now on sale at the San Francisco Railway Museum and online. If you join Market Street Railway at the $100 and above levels, you will receive the Museums in Motion calendar as a thank you for supporting historic transit in San Francisco. More than half the photos in this year’s calendar came from submissions to our flickr community where we’ll soon be putting out the call… — Read More
In case you didn’t tune into today’s Board of Supervisor’s Budget & Finance Committee meeting on SFGTV, which isn’t as boring as it might sound, committee reviewed the pending contract to restore 16 additional historic PCC streetcars. After some questions, including the safety of the historic streetcars to which MTA’s Judson True stressed that none of the recent accidents appeared to be caused by mechanical problems, the committee unanimously recommended approval of this contract to the full Board of Supervisors… — Read More
Octoferret photo. The SFMTA Board of Directors has approved an $18 million contract to restore 16 additional PCC streetcars, but it still faces one more step before it can be awarded: the Board of Supervisors. The Budget and Finance Committee of the Supervisors will consider the item on Wednesday, August 12 at 11 a.m. in Room 250, City Hall. Those who agree with Market Street Railway that this is a critical project for historic transit should consider sharing their views… — Read More
KQED Radio’s program Forum dedicated an hour this morning discussing Muni safety following Monday’s historic streetcar crash and a major crash last month at West Portal Station which which injured 47 people. You can Listen to the program online which featured SFMTA CEO Nat Ford among the guests.
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Before BART and AC Transit, the East Bay was served by the Key System, an extensive streetcar network which linked to San Francisco over the lower deck of the Bay Bridge and arriving at the Transbay Terminal. This 1945 promotional film shows the once great Key System at its peak. Thanks to Pedestrianist for leading us to a post at 38th Notes.