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

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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.

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On the Good Ship Lollipop

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.

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Our E-line Vision Gaining Attention

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.

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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.

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On the Line: Hard Water

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.


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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.

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Learn How the F-line Started, At Our Museum

Thirty years ago this week, the first San Francisco Historic Trolley Festival kicked off, with then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein personally piloting historic Muni Car No. 1 from 17th Street and Market to East Bay Terminal. The festival was so successful, the mayor asked that it be repeated…and the F-line rapidly progressed from a dream to full-time reality. We recount that seminal event in a new exhibit at our San Francisco Railway Museum. And now there’s more opportunity to see it, because… — Read More

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Mid-Market Comeback

PCC No. 1060 enlivens the scene at Seventh and Market Streets. (c) Melissa Wuschnig. In his Chronicle column today, former Mayor Willie Brown said of the mid-Market area, “After decades of nothing but talk, that area is really taking off.” Decades is right. I grew up on Market Street. My family had delicatessens between Fifth and Sixth and between Fourth and Third in the 1950s (and one at Fifth and Jessie as well). As a kid, I watched the stretch… — Read More

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Sunday Street(car)s!

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!

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Visit Us This Weekend at the SF History Expo

Market Street Railway and the San Francisco Railway Museum invite you to visit us at the third annual San Francisco History Expo. This great event takes place Saturday, March 2 from 10-5 and Sunday, March 5, from 10-4, at the historic Old U.S. Mint at Fifth and Mission Streets, worth a visit by itself. Our display of San Francisco transit artifacts at the first History Expo in 2011. This amazing event, sponsored by the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society,… — Read More

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A Trip to the Boneyard!

1954 Hamburg, Germany tram No. 3557 (right) and two ex-Muni PCC streetcars are among the historic vehicles awaiting restoration at Muni’s "boneyard," as the streetcar storage facility is informally known. Todd Lappin photo. Recently, a group of Market Street Railway board members joined a tour of Muni’s storage facility for streetcars awaiting restoration. This facility, near Islais Creek, exists in part because of our active advocacy, begun three decades ago, to preserve retired streetcars to meet possible future service needs.… — Read More

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Great Muni Photographers Open Show

UPDATE: The Chronicle’s Sam Whiting has an excellent profile of Kevin Sheridan, whose work is featured in “The F-line Inside Out” show, also showing at the Harvey Milk Photo Center. The article includes great photos from the show. With both shows now running there, it’s well worth a visit. In Transit: San Francisco’s daily commute in words and pictures Exhibition Dates: November 30, 2012-January 5, 2013 Opening Reception: Friday, Nov. 30, 6:30-9 p.m. Click to enlarge. More great Muni photos… — Read More

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Singing Operators’ Praises

The often unsung heroes (and heroines) of the F-line are the operators. We saw that again last Sunday during the special service Muni put on that day (and this coming Sunday as well) as part of its centennial celebration. Case in point: Ronna Brown. An 18-year Muni veteran, Ronna has worked the F-line for several years, though currently she’s a yard starter at Green Division, getting LRVs ready for their runs. She was out last Sunday (and will be again… — Read More

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Cate Blanchett and Woody Allen Film on a Streetcar

The town’s been buzzing about the locations being used for Woody Allen’s new movie now being filmed. No one knows the title yet (if it even has one), but today we learned at least one scene is being filmed on a Muni PCC streetcar, No. 1060, to be precise. Cate Blanchett in the doorway of F-line streetcar No. 1060 during filming of Woody Allen’s new movie in San Francisco, August 24, 2012. Photo copyright Rick Laubscher. That’s Cate Blanchett in… — Read More

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Big Red Cars — Beyond Disney

The anticipation is building for the unveiling of the upgraded Disney’s California Adventure theme park in Anaheim on June 15 (three months late). We talked about the replicas of the legendary Pacific Electric Big Red Cars that will run down the main drag of the park. Now that it looks like the opening is actually happening, here’s the second part of that story we promised. If you’re headed to Southern California, whether visiting Disney or not, consider taking the time… — Read More

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Disney Makes Big Red Car Little

An upgrade of Disney’s California Adventure, its second (to Disneyland) theme park, has been under way for over a year now. The first incarnation didn’t capture the “pixie dust” or magic people associate with Disney parks. So they tweaked some things and added a huge new attraction in “Cars Land” after the animated film. It opens to the public March 15. But to our eyes, the coolest addition are two Pacific Electric streetcars, installed on Buena Vista Street, itself remodeled… — Read More

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From Russia, With Ink

Photo courtesy Muni Diaries; click to enlarge. And no, we don’t know the complete wording of the tattoo. Well. Tough to know where to start on this one. We know lots of streetcar fans, including many who REALLY love a particular vehicle. Our friends at Muni Diaries shared a photo of a tattoo last year of Muni PCC No. 1010. But at least that streetcar serves the F-line daily, meaning hundreds of thousands of people have seen and/or ridden it,… — Read More

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