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.
1947: Cable car war
In 1947, San Francisco almost lost its Powell cable cars forever. A women-led campaign overcame male-dominated government and business interests to save them. That is a great story in itself. But there’s more to it, including lessons for today and tomorrow.
Farewell to fabulous photographer Fred Lyon
If there’s a special heaven for photographers, greats like Dorothea Lange, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams, O. Winston Link, and many others are welcoming San Francisco’s Fred Lyon, who captured the essence of this city in the mid-20th century in images just as brilliantly as Herb Caen captured it in words.
Finding room to run
NOTE: In late June 2022, a pandemic-delayed memorial service was held for Art Curtis, retired Muni Chief Inspector, long-time Market Street Railway Secretary and Board Member, and stalwart volunteer for many nonprofit groups. Art, who passed away in 2020 just after reaching his goal of his 80th birthday, was a great storyteller, and he had some good ones! A number of years ago, we asked him to share this one in our member magazine, “Inside Track”.
Celebrating Muni operators
March 18 is Transit Driver Appreciation Day. Operating transit vehicles is a challenging job, in any environment. The past two years, it has been more challenging than ever in San Francisco, given justified concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus along with all the other issues they encounter every day. In our member magazine, Inside Track, we gave a shout out in 2020 to three vintage streetcar operators, emblematic of the many who show love for San Francisco’s historic transit vehicles and offer their riders great service.
Maya Angelou, streetcar conductor: the full story
The revered poet and novelist Maya Angelou (1928-2014) has attracted growing attention for a job she briefly held as a teenager: streetcar conductor in San Francisco during World War II. Much of what gets tossed about in social media is untrue or only partly true. Here, we turn to her own words from her books and interviews to provide the fullest story possible and correct common misperceptions.
Celebrating F-line enablers this Pride Month
There would be no F-line today without the concerted effort of a group of advocates and enablers in the early 1980s. Many of them were openly gay. No better time to celebrate their achievements than Pride Month.
Pedal to the metal: “Finding room to run”
We all know that old saying, “They don’t make them like THAT anymore”. With the late Art Curtis, that’s the truth. In his 37-year career with Muni, Art solved all kinds of operational problems as Chief Inspector, but as a “young buck” (his term) operator, he created his share of mischief, too. We’ll be sharing a couple of stories here told by Art himself. This one comes from a 2009 issue of our member magazine, Inside Track. (Join us to get this quarterly magazine with its stories of San Francisco transit history as an exclusive member benefit.)
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