Great LA Times Story: Attractions Along the F-line

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No Cable Cars, F-line Streetcars Saturday, Aug. 26

UPDATE, Saturday, August 26, 9:30 a.m. — Even though the “white nationalist” gathering at Crissy Field was cancelled and the city subsequently barred them from moving it to Alamo Square, buses are still running on the F, instead of streetcars. Streetcars are running on the E-line this morning.

Because of the planned protests and counter-protests around San Francisco this coming Saturday, August 26, Muni has decided to replace all three cable car lines and the F-Market & Wharves streetcar line with buses all day.

As of this writing, the E-Embarcadero is still slated to operate with streetcars between Caltrain and Fisherman’s Wharf along the waterfront, but it is subject to rerouting if threatened with disruption.

A growing number of counter-protests around the city have been scheduled in response to the National Park Service issuing a permit to a white supremacy group to hold a rally at Crissy Field in the Presidio. One counter-protest will start in the Castro and march down Market Street to Civic Center. It is presumed F-line bus service will be rerouted during the march.

In recent years, top Muni management has been very protective of the cable cars in particular, pulling them out of service during heavy storms and demonstrations that might lead to damage against the antique vehicles.

Here’s more on Muni’s decision. 

The Saturday changes will NOT affect our “Bay to Breakers” charter of Muni’s very first streetcar from our San Francisco Railway Museum to the Zoo on Sunday, August 27.  There is still room on this great excursion. Sign up here!

 

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Happy Centennial, J-Church

 

On August 11, 1917, Mayor James “Sunny Jim” Rolph presided over the opening of Muni’s J-Church line. This line brought Muni service the Noe Valley and Dolores Heights areas, in competition with United Railroads’ privately owned streetcar lines on Guerrero Street and on 24th Street.

Over the past century, most types of Muni cars ran the J-line regularly, especially the B-types (including preserved Cars 130 and 162. PCCs began exclusively serving the J-line in 1958, followed by Boeing LRVs in the early 1980s, then the current Breda LRVs, and in the next few years the new Siemens LRVs. Also fan trips love this line and charters can frequently be seen today.

The J line had its own four track section from Market St to 16th St. until after World War II, after an agreement could not be reached with United Railroads to share the 22-Fillmore line’s tracks on that part of Church. In 1946 the J was detoured over the old MSR 9 line, Valencia, Mission, 29th St to Noe, due to construction on Church Street.

To celebrate the J-line’s centennial, Muni’s first streetcar, Car 1, and the last PCC ever built in North America, Car 1040 (which served the J-line for 30 years) will offer rides at regular fares from our San Francisco Railway Museum to the J’s original terminal at 30th and Church Streets on Muni Heritage Weekend, September 9-10, starting at 10 a.m. and continuing until 4 p.m.

If you’re a Market Street Railway Member, you should have received the latest issue of our newsletter, Inside Track, with an array of great historic photos of the J-line’s first century.  (If you’re not a member, you can join, and we’ll send it to you right away.) Also, Bob Strachan, an MSR volunteer archivist, has shared a great bunch of J-line photos on our Facebook Group. (Search on Market Street Railway, and chose the GROUP, rather than the page.)

Happy 100th Birthday, J-line!

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Magic Carpet Ride


San Francisco’s first streamlined streetcars arrived in 1939. The outsides looked like the modern “PCC” streetcars popping up in many North American cities at the time, but San Francisco’s were different inside, because the City Charter of the day forbade the payment of patent royalties for some reason, and many components of the PCC were patented.

So Muni ordered five cars that looked like this, numbered 1001-1005, with a mix of trucks, motors, and other components. All, though, had a General Electric Cineston hand controller instead of the PCC’s foot pedals. Their ride was so smooth and quiet compared to their boxy cousins that they were dubbed “Magic Carpets”.

World War II and constrained city finances were two reasons Muni didn’t buy more of these modern streetcars in the years that followed, but in 1948, with the patent problems resolved, Muni did buy 10 double-end “real” PCCs, numbered 1006-1015, seven of which have been restored for operation on the E-Embarcadero line.

Here, in 1942, we see Magic Carpet 1002 at the inbound station at Castro and Market Streets, having just emerged from a run through the Twin Peaks Tunnel (no doubt an amazing experience to first-time riders). The 1002 shows the route sign X-11th St. Only, which was used for pull-ins to the car barn just off the H-Potrero line at Hampshire and Mariposa Streets. In this era, the Carpets usually served the L-Taraval, so it’s a good bet that’s where it had been running during its shift.

This great image was taken by Ralph Demoro, father of legendary railfan and journalist Harre Demoro, and is now part of the Market Street Railway Archive, donated as part of the John Harder Collection. Click on it and look at some of the details. The road sign to the right points to Upper Market Street, the automobile route over Twin Peaks, and offers the destinations Junipero Serra Boulevard, San Mateo, and Skyline Boulevard. The building to the left, still there, offers “Danish Confections”. The patented (and unique to San Francisco) Wiley “birdcage” sits by the entry to the tunnel, right, where two riders wait for an outbound K or L car (during this period, the M-line was only a shuttle from West Portal to Ocean View. There was no Stonestown or Parkmerced then). A hard-to-read warning sign between the Examiner newsrack and the street sign on the pole next to the streetcar reads “KEEP TO RIGHT OF TUNNEL.”

By the late 1970s, this stop disappeared when the Twin Peaks Tunnel was connected under Castro and Market to the new Muni Metro Subway.

Only one of the five Magic Carpets survived after they were retired in 1959. Car 1003 is at the Western Railway Museum in Solano County. In today’s historic streetcar fleet, one of the 1948 PCCs, 1010, pays tribute to the Magic Carpets by wearing the Carpets’ original blue and yellow livery.

By the way, Muni’s competitor of that era, our namesake, Market Street Railway, dreamed about buying similar streamlined double-end streetcars but could never afford them. They’re honored in today’s historic fleet as well, with PCC 1011.

UPDATE, August 6 — one of our members, John Bromley, has checked in to enlighten us (we are so glad for the collective knowledge of our members and friends). John notes that this was a fan trip on June 7, 1942, and sent additional photos along. We should have noticed the “XX” on the run number sign, a sure tip-off. We’re posting a couple of these additional photos John supplied, both taken by Ralph Demoro.

The photo above shows the 1002 at what was then the end of the K-Ingleside line, on Brighton Avenue at Grafton Avenue, three blocks south of Ocean Avenue. (The K shared tracks on Ocean with competitor Market Street Railway’s 12-line and needed its own terminal. The Brighton trackage was removed by the mid-1950s.) The photo below is taken at the end of the original F-line at its Marina District terminal on Chestnut Street near Scott Street. The original F-line became the 30-Stockton bus, extended a few blocks in the Marina, in 1951. As far as we know, the Carpets never operated in revenue service on the F-line, as the narrowness of Stockton Street led Muni to stick to their oldest cars, the 1912-1913 A-types (including preserved Car 1).

Thanks to John for the extra information and great photos.

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What Would You Have Saved From the Old Boneyard?

The new issue of our member newsletter, Inside Track, should reach your mailboxes any day now. It contains a story about our efforts to save the best PCC streetcars at Muni’s current “boneyard”, on Marin Street near Islais Creek, as Muni moves to convert the space into a bus testing yard. (No, we’re not going to post that story here, at least not yet; our members feel getting first knowledge of important developments regarding the historic streetcar fleet is a perk of… — Read More

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84% Support Historic Streetcars

In the increasingly frothy world of online media, we’ve noticed a definite increase in stories designed to create a controversy where there really isn’t one. With today’s frantic competition for eyeballs, competitors will often build on each other’s story without doing any actual, you know, reporting. (Not that this is just an online media thing; who of a certain age can forget the Chronicle’s “crusade” against bad coffee half a century ago, under the unforgettable headline, “A Great City’s People… — Read More

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Waiting for Muni, About 1940

  Here’s an unusual shot, photographer unknown (at least to us). We’re at Market and McAllister, looking west. It appears to be about 1940.  When our main drag had four streetcar tracks side by side, there were very few spots where there was enough room to build actual boarding islands like you see on Market now. Instead, there were just raised dots to mark what were optimistically called “safety zones”. But here we have a real concrete island with its… — Read More

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No F-line Streetcars on the 4th of July

We received this notification from Muni: The F Market will be motorized all day and around 3PM, it will have a reroute short of Pier 39 at Bay Street given the street closures. The E line will operate with streetcars until about 2PM, when they will pull-in and be replaced by motorcoaches. So Muni Operations has decided that E-line streetcars can run until 2 pm, but that F-line streetcars somehow cannot run at all on the 4th, even from Castro… — Read More

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Patriotic Celebration, 1909

Lots of streetcars but even more American flags on and around the Ferry Building on a bright afternoon in October 1909, 1:29 p.m. We don’t know the exact date or who took the photo; if someone knows, fill us in with a comment. Lots to see in this shot. Double-click on the photo to enlarge it and take a tour. Permanent buildings are in place after the 1906 earthquake, some with electric signs (waffles, anyone?). The Southern Pacific is advertising… — Read More

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Pittsburgh in Nevada, Inbound

This photo just in from DF Baker in our Market Street Railway Facebook group shows the latest restored PCC from Brookville Equipment Company headed back to San Francisco. It’s Car 1062, freshly repainted to honor Pittsburgh Railways Company. (The PRC logo will be applied after it gets to San Francisco. The photo was taken at a truck stop Mill City, Nevada, between Winnemucca and Reno. The car could arrive in San Francisco Sunday. Once it’s unloaded, Car 1053 will be… — Read More

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Visible Pride for Harvey Milk

Since his passion and determination grabbed the attention of San Franciscans in the 1970s, Harvey Milk has been a household name here. His terrible assassination in 1978 brought global attention to his human rights advocacy, specifically for LGBTQ people. The movie “Milk” in 2008 brought his story to millions more around the globe. In 2009, Market Street Railway urged the SFMTA to dedicate a PCC streetcar used in the movie, No. 1051, to Harvey. It wears the simple green and… — Read More

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Vintage Pride: 1983

By the time historic streetcars returned to San Francisco’s streets for the first Historic Trolley Festival in the Summer of 1983, the annual LGBT Pride Parade was already a summertime fixture on Market Street. Even then, the parade was such a major event that streetcar service was suspended for its duration. But that first year of the Trolley Festival, two of the Trolley Festival cars showed their own pride by joining in. Here we look through the 1934 Blackpool, England… — Read More

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MSR Co-Founder Paul Rosenberg Passes Away

Co-founder of Market Street Railway and respected San Francisco historian Paul Rosenberg has passed away after an extended illness. He was 72. Paul graduated from Lowell High School and the University of California Berkeley. He was an early member of one of the great San Francisco groups, the Irish-Israeli-Italian Society as well as other groups, and served on Market Street Railway’s board for many years. One of a small group of historians and transit supporters who founded our non-profit in… — Read More

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Geneva Car Barn & Powerhouse Gets Funding

The long-running dream of transforming the 1901 Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse into vibrant community space got a $3 million boost, making it far more likely to become reality. As reported in Hoodline, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Commission, which bought the building in 2004 from Muni, appropriated the $3 million at its June 15 meeting, bringing total approved funding for the project to $11 million. The project involves two structures that sit next to each other, both originally… — Read More

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Fort Mason Streetcar Extension Update

Eastern Fort Mason Tunnel entrance at the foot of Van Ness Avenue.The Examiner has a comprehensive update today on the proposed historic streetcar extension to Fort Mason. It tells the story better than we could, so click on that link above and read it for yourself. We’ll just add that we have been working on this for a very long time. It had gotten snagged in an unrelated matter. Not long after the Environmental Impact Statement had been certified in 2013,… — Read More

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