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 graphics of every car, and loads of current and historic photos as well.
ON TRACK includes a concise history of transit in San Francisco and the story of how vintage streetcar service came to be and grew in popularity. There’s even a trainspotter’s guide to let you record the vintage vehicles you ride or see. At 4.5″ by 9″, it slips right in your pocket, so it will always be at the ready as you ride or watch the cavalcade of cable cars and streetcars in the City.
We’ve written it to appeal to both San Franciscans and visitors from around the world. It’s available now at our San Francisco Railway Museum, or on our online store It’s just $14.95, and remember, Market Street Railway members get 10% off!
All proceeds go to support the mission of Market Street Railway: Preserving Historic Transit in San Francisco. So pick up one for yourself, and additional copies too, because they make great gifts.
Today, we bid a fond farewell to Shirley Temple Black, actress and diplomat, who passed away last night at her Peninsula home. She was 85.
Shirley Temple is generally considered the most famous child star ever. In dozens of films during the 1930s, she lifted moviegoers’ spirits and touched their hearts with her upbeat persona and infectious dimpled smile. Some of her songs, such as “Good Ship Lollipop,” were hummed or whistled by people everywhere. In the depths of the Depression, it was a great tonic for fans not only in America but around the world.
She was reminded of her global fame much later in life when she served as U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia under President George H. W. Bush. She arrived in Prague to be greeted by members of a Shirley Temple fan club, dating back to her acting days. She had previously served as Ambassador to Ghana under President Nixon and U.S. Chief of Protocol under President Ford.
We celebrate her for all these accomplishments in her life, but in our corner of the world, we especially remember her role as the celebrity chosen to introduce the first PCC streetcars to Los Angeles in 1937, as shown in the newspaper photo, which comes from our Facebook group. Her role is recognized onboard Muni’s PCC No. 1052, painted in tribute to Los Angeles Railways.
We’re going to start thinking of No. 1052 as the Good Ship Lollipop from now on.
In the wake of several successful weekends of vintage streetcar service the length of The Embarcadero on the E-line, the Curbed website posted a story on our vision for an extended E-line service today. That, in turn, spawned a post on SFist.
Curbed drew on the document we’ve been distributing around town, which you can download here.
Recently restored E-line PCC streetcar No. 1008 switches off the F-line tracks onto the connector track that will take it the rest of the way on The Embarcadero during America’s Cup service August 25, 2013. The special E-line connector track has been in place almost a decade, waiting for the full-time startup of the line. Refurbishment of this car and others allows for full time E-line service to begin as soon as Muni funds it. Brian Leadingham photo.
The downloadable document goes into detail about the many benefits we believe an extended E-line will bring to the city, especially that of augmenting transit service for the city’s fast growing Eastern Neighborhoods, while alleviating some of the overcrowding on the Embarcadero section of the F-line. (See the note below about our revised proposal for an extension all the way through Dogpatch.)
Market Street Railway envisions continuous vintage streetcar service from Fort Mason past Ghirardelli Square and Aquatic Park, then sharing existing F-line tracks through Fisherman’s Wharf and along The Embarcadero to the Ferry Building. The E-line then uses its own tracks, already in place, for three blocks until it joins the N- and T-line tracks at Folsom. Stops along this portion of The Embarcadero have already been constructed for the vintage streetcars and used successfully during the America’s Cup Service.
Then, after passing the Giants’ ballpark, the E-line would follow the current T-line tracks to serve all of Mission Bay and Dogpatch before terminating at Muni’s existing light rail facility at Illinois and Cesar Chavez Streets, just north of Islais Creek. (Note: the downloadable document shows our proposed E-line southern terminal near Pier 70, but since it was published, Dogpatch neighborhood and business leaders have urged us to advocate a longer extension to serve their entire community. We’re joining them in supporting this longer extension, noting that no additional track is needed for the E-line to reach the Cesar Chavez terminal, as it would loop along the western edge of the existing light rail yard.)
The best part about the longer E-line extension through Mission Bay and Dogpatch is that by taking advantage of an existing track turnaround loop, any of the almost 50 vintage streetcars in the operating fleet today could carry passengers on the E-line. Right now, the southern terminal Muni’s using for America’s Cup E-line service, on King Street next to the Caltrain depot, can only be served by streetcars than can operate from either end, like the one pictured above. Double ended vintage streetcars comprise only about 20% of the fleet. There are enough vintage streetcars available for both the E- and F-lines right now, if single-end streetcars could be used on the E.
In an era when projects costing hundreds of millions, even billions for relatively short distances are being built or bandied about, we think a Muni line using its most popular vehicles to serve San Francisco’s fastest growing residential area (Mission Bay/Dogpatch) where all the needed track is already in place is a pretty good idea. Download our vision paper, read through the details, and see what you think.
We start a new feature today: fun places you can reach on Muni’s historic streetcar or cable car lines.
Our first entry is Hard Water, the hot new whisky bar cum southern cooking temple that’s the brainchild of Charles Phan, proprietor of the famous Slanted Door.
The whisky wall at Hard Water.
Although Hard Water is just one F-line stop away from the Ferry Building’s Slanted Door, it’s a world away from Phan’s celebrated take on Vietnamese cuisine. The location is Simon Snellgrove’s wonderful restoration of Pier 3 (F-line Washington Street stop). You enter the high-ceilinged space of the historic bulkhead building to find yourself facing a literal wall of whiskies: Scotch, bourbon, rye, Canadian, and more. Try them straight or in some marvelous signature cocktails, such as the Presbyterian (Wild Turkey, lemon, ginger, and soda) or the Roffignac (Redemption rye, lemon, grapefruit, red hembarig syrup, and soda).
Lunch features such entrees as okra etoufee, muffaletta, gulf flounder sandwich, and fried chicken sandwich. Dinner includes seafood gumbo, southern fried chicken, smothered pork shank with black eyed peas and many more, plus appetizers like corneal crusted alligator and pork belly cracklin’.
One note: there are no tables here. Instead, there are seating bars against the walls and in the center of the room. When we visited, it led to a great conversation with some friends we didn’t know we’d make that night. And the food was yummy. As for the drinks, well, that’s why you take the F-line to get there.
You can find menus here.
San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) mounted the latest Sunday Streets celebration March 10, 2013, along The Embarcadero. We thought what better way to see it than from Muni’s 1934 boat tram from Blackpool, England. Come along for the ride in this video we put together!