Here’s a great chance to see memorable historic photos of San Francisco transit. And, if you come on January 27, bask in the perfection of a fully restored vintage Muni bus and hear from photography and history experts.
Dianne Feinstein is rightly being remembered for an astonishing range and depth of accomplishment during her 90 years of life. Her memory is a blessing to all who knew her, especially the thousands of women she mentored as a breakthrough female political leader.
We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of Muni’s greatest ambassadors: F-line streetcar operator Michael Delia, who passed away August 31.
Cable cars celebrated their 150th birthday on August 2 with a lively celebration at Market and Powell Streets. The event commemorated inventor Andrew Hallidie’s first cable car trip, down Nob Hill on Clay Street, on August 2, 1873.
For years, our nonprofit support group has called the cable cars and historic streetcars of San Francisco “Museums in Motion”. Indeed they are – authentic transit vehicles ranging in age from 71 to 140 years, still providing reliable transportation to San Franciscans and visitors alike, thanks to the hard work of SFMTA (Muni), which owns and operates them.
Cable cars, a giant leap forward in urban transit technology when Andrew Hallidie invented them in 1873, dominated San Francisco streets until the earthquake and fire of 1906 decimated both cable machinery and the cars themselves. After that, cable cars were largely limited to steep hills while larger, faster electric streetcars carried the heavy loads on main routes. High operating costs gradually pared down the remaining cable car lines. In 1947, an attempt by a misguided mayor to junk the Powell Street cables was slapped down by a women-led civic coalition helmed by Friedel Klussmann, but even her heroic efforts seven years later could not avert the loss of half the remaining cable car trackage.
Innovation born in San Francisco triggered a hi-tech revolution that changed America and much of the world. We’re not talking here about the digital innovations from Silicon Valley. Nor the analog innovation by Philo T. Farnsworth, in a little building on Green Street in 1927, that gave birth to television. We’re talking about mechanical innovation 150 years ago that began a revolution in how people move around cities.
The California Street cable car line has terminated at Market Street since 1891. For the past 50 years, its neighbor has been the Hyatt Regency, the innovative hotel designed by John Portman, now iconic in its own right. When the hotel’s current management generously supported the celebration of 150 Years of Cable Cars, they asked us if we had some old photos of the location.
We’ve written before of the many Black barrier breakers in San Francisco transit. These are stories that must be retold every month, not just Black History Month. People such as Mary Ellen Pleasant, Charlotte Brown, Audley Cole, Larry Martin, Welton Flynn, Curtis Green, and Maya Angelou confronted racism and resistance; all moved the needle in our City toward equity and equality, a fight that continues today.
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