Walgreen’s Invents New Transit Vehicle

Underneath the very intersection of historic transit in San Francisco, in the basement of the old Emporium (now a food court named — wait for it — the Food Emporium), is a shiny new Walgreen’s. Kind of a mini-Walgreen’s, actually. There are a couple of bigger ones within a block or two (are drug stores multiplying like Starbucks?)

Anyway, just so you don’t think you’re dealing with some kind of national chain or anything, they’ve got a sign saying they’ve been in San Francisco since 1937. And to PROVE it, they’ve got a drawing of a cable car. With a trolley pole on top. Wait. No, it’s a streetcar. Running on a cable car track. (Dear railfans, no lectures on Washington DC or Manhattan streetcar conduit systems, please. And no, we don’t think they intended to show the old Fillmore Hill counterbalance.)
Wait, maybe it’s a hybrid.
Or maybe it’s just a mistake.
Dear Walgreen’s-in-San Francisco-since-1937. Learn the difference between how streetcars and cable cars look and work. And oh, by the way, we’ve got a great field guide for you to carry in your Market Street stores. (Smile.)

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Photo of the (Past) Moment: Centenarian at Birth


Muni streetcar No. 130, still in service, at Geary and Grant, c. 1920. Click to enlarge.

This year, two Muni streetcars celebrate their centennials. Both were bought from the Jewett Car Company of Ohio in 1914 as part of an order of 125 streetcars to serve lines Muni was then building to serve the following year’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
These two streetcars, No. 130 (now painted in its later 1940s blue and gold livery) and No. 162 (now under repair) are the only two streetcars remaining from that group of 125.
One the lines Muni opened initially with the Exposition in mind was the D-Van Ness. It ran from the Ferry via Market, Geary, Van Ness, and Union Streets. Initially, It then followed new tracks on Steiner, Greenwich and Scott Streets to reach the Exposition grounds at Chestnut. After the fair was over, the tracks on Scott were torn out and the line was extended on Greenwich into the Presidio, the route it followed until the D-line ended in 1950. Click here for a great story by Grant Ute on how Muni served the fair.
Here’s the earliest shot we’ve ever seen of No. 130. It’s on the D-line, Ferry-bound on Geary at Grant. The end sections have been glazed, as Muni did with all its streetcars once it learned how much riders hated the original open end sections out in the Fog Belt. That was done in the late 1910s, so this shot probably dates to the early 1920s.
We found this little gem yesterday at the Hunter’s Point Artists Open Studio Event, a wonderful way to spend a spring afternoon. The original print (which we would love to find) had been copied by Stacey Carter, an artist who specializes in historic industrial, military, and transportation scenes. You can see her work here. Thanks to Stacey for letting us share the shot.
Oh, one more thing. The D-line was probably most famous for a conductor who supposedly worked on it and was dubbed Ding-Dong Daddy of the D-car line. Click that link for a fun story. (Hint: his shenanigans didn’t happen on the D.)
Our non-profit helps preserve not only photos and stories that illuminate our city’s transit history, but also the very streetcars themselves. In fact, we purchased No. 162 from a museum and helped Muni restore it for service on the F-line. Please consider joining or supporting us. Thanks!

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“The Streetcar Named Common Sense”

That’s how Joel P. Engardio, columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, described Market Street Railway’s proposal to extend the E-Embarcadero line, south through Mission Bay and Dogpatch, sharing existing tracks of the T-Third light rail line.
In his April 27 column, Engardio cited strong support for the extended line in the neighborhoods it would serve. “We are exploding with development and we need more transit options,” Engardio quoted Janet Carpinelli, president of the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association, as saying. “Putting in the E-line is a no-brainer, especially when the T-line is so inefficient.”

1856 Central Waterfront Ehrlich 2012.jpg

A Milan tram passes a T-line light rail vehicle on Third Street at 23rd Street in Dogpatch.Since October 2012, Muni’s Milan trams have been housed at Muni Metro East a few blocks away, with no incidences of them interfering with T-line operations when they enter and leave service via Third Street through Mission Bay and Dogpatch. This part of Third Street is slated for major residential and commercial development. Photo Copyright Peter Ehrlich.

The column also supported our belief that the relocation of the proposed Warriors Arena site to Third and 16th Streets makes E-line service through Mission Bay and Dogpatch even more important.
Engardio also laid out the case for extending the E-line at its other end, from Fisherman’s Wharf to serve Aquatic Park, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Ghirardelli Square, and Fort Mason.
Again, here’s the link to Engardio’s column.

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Streetcar History Talk at California Historical Society April 30

Here’s an announcement from the California Historical Society about a talk Wednesday, April 30, at 6 pm at their headquarters, 678 Mission Street, between Second and Third. Come by and chat with Rick!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 6:00pm

Ten Lions Talks – How Streetcars and Cable Cars Shaped San Francisco’s History

San Francisco wouldn’t be the same without its colorful streetcars and cable cars. These vintage forms of public transit are not only practical ways to explore the city, they’re “joy rides” that jangle through a mix of historic buildings and vibrant new development, filling your ears with the sound of cables clicking as steel wheels rumble under your feet. At the same time, they’re a fleet of unique traveling museums. Rick Laubscher, author and president of Market Street Railway, will tell a few of the remarkable stories of San Francisco’s cable cars and streetcars detailed in his new book, On Track. Part travel and field guide, part civic and engineering history, this book has everything—from illustrations and specs to a trainspotter’s checklist.
Free for CHS and Heyday members
$5 general admission

California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco
In partnership with Heyday

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Warriors Arena in Mission Bay Boosts Importance of Extending the E-Line

The Warriors now say their future lies on the border of Mission Bay and Dogpatch, instead of a mile farther north on Piers 30-32. The 125-foot tall, 18,000-seat arena the basketball team proposed to build over the Bay along the southern Embarcadero is now slated for a site the Warriors just bought on the east side of Third Street, between South and 16th Streets. Unlike the Pier 30-32 site, this site fits within current zoning and would need only a… — Read More

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Museum Closed through Wednesday, April 23

The first day’s progress refinishing our museum floor, on the window side of our embedded "tracks." Brian Leadingham photo. Click to enlarge. Since our San Francisco Railway Museum opened in 2006, we’ve welcomed tens of thousands of visitors who learned about how transit made San Francisco the city it is today, and enjoyed the many unique gifts we offer there. All those feet on our floor have brought us to the point where we’re resurfacing our unique flooring with its… — Read More

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Telling a Great Story of 108 Years Ago

On or about April 14, 1906, 108 years ago this week, pioneering professional filmmakers the Miles Brothers bolted a hand-cranked camera onto the front of a cable car and rode down Market Street from Eighth Street to the Ferry Building. The film they shot has gained new interest in the past few years, since film historian David Kiehn demonstrated that it was made just a few days before the great earthquake and fire destroyed almost everything you see. (Previously, the… — Read More

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Special History Sale and Book Signing Today

Today (Saturday, April 12) is a special day at our San Francisco Railway Museum. From 11 a.m. through mid-afternoon, we’ll be holding a sidewalk sale of transit and railroad books, photos, memorabilia, and ephemera right outside the museum just across from the Ferry Building (F-line Steuart Street stop). And from Noon to 3 p.m., Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher will be signing copies of his new book, ON TRACK: A Field Guide to San Francisco’s Historic Streetcars and Cable… — Read More

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New Streetcar Book Signing at Museum April 12

It’s a hot seller! Talking about ON TRACK: A Field Guide to San Francisco’s Historic Streetcars and Cable Cars, the new comprehensive view of the city’s vintage rail vehicles and history, written by Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher. On Saturday, April 12, from 12 Noon to 3 p.m., you can meet Rick and get an inscribed copy of ON TRACK at our San Francisco Railway Museum, 77 Steuart Street, across from the Ferry Building (right at the F-line Steuart… — Read More

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E-Line Finally Budgeted…For 2016!

It’s going to take even longer before you see this sight every day. E-line service won’t be full-time until 2016. As the old saying goes, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is the SFMTA Board of Directors has approved funding to start regular E-line service. The bad news is that full-time E-line service isn’t funded until the spring of 2016, with weekend service (11 a.m.-7 p.m.) okayed to start in the summer of 2015. The schedule was… — Read More

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New Field Guide to SF’s Historic Streetcars & Cable Cars

Market Street Railway is proud to announce the release of our new field guide to San Francisco’s historic streetcars and cable cars: ON TRACK. Written by Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher, this 128-page guide tells you the story of each vintage rail vehicle in Muni’s fleet, gives you riding tips, lists the historic sites you’ll pass on each route, and shares insider secrets for great walks that link to your historic ride. It’s full color and there are great… — Read More

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No F-Line Fare Increase

The idea of possibly tripling F-line historic streetcar fares appears dead. That comes directly from SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin, according to a City Insider post on the Chronicle’s website. Opposition to the plan was strong and broad-based, centered on the inequity of raising fares for one line that serves several neighborhoods, seemingly based on the fact that tourists also ride it. The idea was dropped the same day the Chronicle published a scathing editorial denouncing a higher fare for the… — Read More

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Opposition to F-Line Fare Increase Keeps Growing

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle More and more city leaders, groups, and individuals are sounding off about Muni staff’s idea of tripling the F-line fare to match the cable cars. Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and Supervisor Scott Weiner, whose combined districts cover most of the F-line route, have written a “two thumbs down” letter about the proposal, focusing on how it is discriminatory against residents along the line who depend on it. San Francisco Travel (formerly known… — Read More

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Very Special Cable Car Rail Gifts

The cable cars are world famous historic artifacts, of course, but they couldn’t climb even a quarter-way to the stars without good rail underneath their wheels. Since the first cable car ran on Clay Street in 1873, different rail profiles have been used on different lines around the city. Now, we’re offering a pair of unique gifts at our San Francisco Railway Museum that show off the variety of historic cable car rail in the city. Years ago, we had… — Read More

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On Donner!

Two beautiful sights in one: snow falling this morning on Donner Summit (keep it coming!) and PCC No. 1009, painted in tribute to Dallas, headed back to San Francisco. MSR Member James Giraudo caught this great action shot. No. 1009 arrived safely in the city this afternoon, completing its return trip to Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania for refitting of the traditional-style door motors that work better than the computerized ones installed during the recent overhaul program. No. 1009 should… — Read More

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