No, they’re not streetcars or cable cars, but what a fascinating angle on San Francisco transit. San Francisco is one of the few remaining North American cities to operate trolley buses, and no city on this continent has a network of overhead transit wires to match our city’s. (Visual intrusion, yes; zero emission transit, courtesy Hetch Hetchy, absolutely!)
This photo comes from one of our 2013 Museums in Motion calendar contributors (though his actual photo in the calendar is of streetcars). Here’s what he has to say about his work and his city.
> My name is Brandon Doran and I’m a San Francisco resident for 11 years and have been photographing for the last two and a half. These days I am most interested in photographing the everyday moments occurring out on the street with the occasional cityscape or architectural shot, which I hope tells some story about the place or people. Muni buses, streetcars, and cable cars are one of the most obvious things to take pictures of in San Francisco. But why do I photograph Muni? Because Muni fascinates me. It’s life, it’s a very much an integral part of the city I love, it’s San Franciscan. I am always looking for something to provide the aesthetic means to say what I want to say about the things I see. Muni is a wonderful vehicle, pardon the pun, for making a picture that says something about San Francisco.
Check out more of Brandon’s work on his website, or on Instagram (brandondoran).
And don’t forget, you can pick up our calendar right now at our San Francisco Railway Museum for $12.95.
An example of Adolfo Echeverry’s photography: PCC No. 1059, honoring Boston Elevated Railway, makes a nighttime run on The Embarcadero. Adolfo is a contributor to our 2013 calendar. Click to enlarge.
We are so lucky to attract such great photographers to contribute their skills to the calendars we create every year as a fund-raiser for our non-profit advocacy group. The calendars themselves remind people of how San Francisco’s historic streetcars and cable cars add such richness to the city’s urban fabric. The proceeds for the calendars help us fulfill our mission of preserving historic transit in San Francisco and help our advocacy for such things as extension of service to Mission Bay and Fort Mason and the restoration of additional pieces of our city’s transit history.
One of our new contributors for the 2013 calendar, now on sale at our San Francisco Railway Museum or in our online store, is Adolfo Echeverry. Here’s what he says about his interest in the city’s streetcars:
> In Colombia, my country of origin, two cities, Bogota and Medellin, ran streetcars. By the time I was born both systems had been deserted.
> When I arrived in San Francisco in 1999, I, as many people who visit the city for the first time, didn’t know about the streetcars. I only knew about the cable cars, having seen them in thousands of pictures, movies and even TV commercials (Remember that old ad of Charlie, where the girl loses her purse?)
> When I saw the F-line streetcars it was love at first sight. I would ride them from the Castro to Market and 14th Street to go to work. Short ride indeed, but I enjoyed every minute of it. The streetcars cheer up the city with their colorful parade when going from the Castro, down on Market Street and The Embarcadero, to the wharves and vice-versa. I’m very excited with the opening of the E-line service since it means new opportunities for many more pictures of a topic I never get tired of: the streetcars of San Francisco.
> You can check some of my pictures on my Flickr group and also can see some others at my Facebook group.
We thank Adolfo and our other great photographers for sharing their visions with us.
Editor’s Note: Right after posting the photo of Car No. 1040 (preceding post), we coincidentally received this email, which the author, Joel Salomon, has generously let us post here. Yet another reason to remember moms – not just on Mother’s Day, but every day of the year.
Click to enlarge. Muni PCC No. 1040 on Market Street in 1955, about to turn onto First Street to reach the Transbay Terminal (which would have been shown as "BRIDGE" on the roll signs of the day). Following common practice of the time, the operator has already changed the destination reading to "OCEAN" on the L-Taraval line (revised on later roll signs to "46TH-ZOO"). That’s the Hunter-Dulin Building, home to the fictional detective firm of Spade & Archer, above the car in the background, at 111 Sutter. (It’s still there.) We left the photo uncropped, the better to see the cool storefronts on Market. No, "Navy Blues" is not the predecessor of Old Navy. Several military uniform stores used to be quartered in this section of Market. Photo by Joel Salomon’s mom.
Having been in San Francisco last month I have been on a bit of a Muni fixation of late. I remembered that in my father’s collection I got were 35mm slides that my mother had taken in 1955 when she visited San Francisco while on a trip to see her sister, who lived near Sacramento. My parents were not married at the time, but my father gave my mom his slide camera to use on the trip. My mom took numerous train and trolley pictures and I decided to search them out and go through them the other week.
Imagine my surprise when I came across the enclosed shot of car 1040!
It’s so ironic that my mom took this picture of this particular car in 1955 and I discovered this in 2012, the year Harry [Donahue, head of a Friends of Philadelphia Trolleys] is planning the trip with this car. So I guess it must be fate that I go along on this fan trip in August.
So, here’s to you Mom, thinking of you a bit extra on this Mother’s Day as I type this message. Thank you for all the things you did for us a kids and while growing up beyond my teenage years! Thank you for taking me (and my two brothers) to San Francisco when I was nine years old in 1972 and instilling all the good things in my life that you did and helping with my love affair with trolleys and trains. Yes my dad had a hand in that too, but Mom, you also encouraged it. Cannot believe it’s been 14 years since you have been gone. I think of you often.
I thought this shot of 1040 had significant meaning on this day, due to the person that took it.
Joel Postscript: a comparison of this 1955 shot of No. 1040 shows how faithful its recent restoration is. The only thing missing today is the “Enter Front” decal by the front doors, which has been left off in anticipation of Muni changing to all-door boarding later this year. The black anticlimber (front bumper) was repainted silver on these cars not long after this photo was taken.
Of Muni’s 32 streamliner PCC streetcars currently in active service or under restoration, the most historic is almost certainly No. 1040. It was the very last one of some 5,000 PCCs to be built in North America, and just rejoined the fleet after a full restoration that paid particular attention to preserving its original features.
Its historic status has instantly made it a favorite target of photographers. We’re seeing a lot of great shots of it in our Flickr Group. We thought we’d share this one, by knelson27, taken on our recent charter of No. 1040. It’s posed next to an LRV near the original end of the M-line at Broad and Plymouth. And yes, the F-line PCCs also carry route signs for the other Muni surface streetcar routes, In case they’re needed for shuttle service.
Jim Lekas photo, Market Street Railway Archive Here’s an oddity. Not the photo, but where it showed up. We love this shot for two reasons: it features preserved Muni “Iron Monster” No. 162, near the end of its original service life on the M-Ocean View line on 19th Avenue crossing Junipero Serra, and it’s got that cool Nash keeping pace right alongside. We know this photo, because it’s part of our collection, donated to us by MSR member Jim Lekas,… — Read More
An article on BART’s new cars stirred up a hornet’s nest of comments lamenting that we don’t build anything here any more — specifically transit vehicles. We’re not going to wade into that discussion (but feel free to clink the link and comment there). Coincidentally, though, that news story appeared the same day a reader in Idaho, Noel Anthony Cimino, submitted this photograph to us for publication. Here’s what he wrote: > “This is a photo of my dad, Joseph… — Read More
FINALLY some much needed rain today, and to greet it, the latest 1070-class streetcar to go into service following rewiring, with a little bonus. PCC No. 1078 at the F-line Wharf terminal on its first day back carrying passengers, January 19, 2012. Click to enlarge. PCC No. 1078 honors San Diego, whose original PCCs carried a special slogan above the windows: “Ride & Relax.” Their original PCCs did not have those little oval windows, called “standee windows” above the main… — Read More
San Francisco Municipal Railway streetcar No. 1 on Stockton Street at Market, the terminal of the original F-Stockton line, Christmas Day 1944. Roy D. Graves photo, Market Street Railway Archives. It’s December 25, 1944. We’re at Stockton at Market Street, the terminal of Muni’s original F-line. And welcoming riders on this Christmas Day 67 years ago is none other than Car No. 1, recently repainted from its original gray and maroon “battleship” livery into Muni’s brighter blue and gold. It… — Read More
In the gloaming on West Portal Avenue, PCCs honoring Toronto (1074) and Los Angeles (1080) are about to turn onto the L-Taraval line for testing and training, December 8, 2011. Photo copyright Jeremy Whiteman. One of our ace volunteer photographers, Jeremy Whiteman, is out and about these days west of Twin Peaks, tracking the moves of the PCCs in the 1070 class — the cars numbered between 1070 and 1080 recently returned from being rewired and having the door controls… — Read More
Once in awhile, people contact us (mistakenly believing our non-profit actually operates the historic streetcars) complaining about strange characters wandering up and down the aisles of the F-line streetcars. We tell them it’s part of our city’s history, and here’s a proof point from 1928. The leather boots suggest a possible refugee from the Folsom Street Fair; the beard suggests a prolonged spell in the wilds of Mendocino, uh, farming. Then there’s that jacket with the puffy cotton belt thingy… — Read More
Click photo to enlarge The overcast seems like it’s been with us forever, but here’s a sight to brighten the scene: two of the brightest streetcars in the F-line fleet passing on The Embarcadero the other day. Milan tram No. 1811 wears the yellow and white livery this “Ventotto” class originally wore (“Ventotto”=28,for the year, 1928, when the first ones went into service). PCC No. 1076 evokes the tropics in its aqua and flamingo orange paint job, jarring for Washington… — Read More
The other day, we talked about helpful Muni operators on the Boat Tram. Here’s a different angle on that, literally. The cruise ship Crystal Symphony called at Pier 35 yesterday, with relatives on board. A tour gave us the chance to snap a few shots from a vantage point San Franciscans rarely experience. That includes sweeping views of the Wharf area with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, and, in this case, two F-line streetcars, No. 1053 (Brooklyn) approaching… — Read More
Among F-line operators, there are many who appreciate the history of the vintage streetcars. One of them, Jose Alvarez, often goes the extra mile to share that history with his passengers. I snapped this photo of Jose yesterday while he was crewing the “boat tram.” He’s explaining to the visitor that this car came all the way from Blackpool, England, and is the only one operating in transit service in the U.S. Sometimes he tells kids on board, “it’s the… — Read More
You’d think so from looking at this photo of decked-out Milan tram No. 1811, not to mention the wreath-bedecked light poles in front of the Ferry Building. But it turns out to be a little money-making opportunity for Muni: a charter of the tram earlier this month for filming a scene of the forthcoming feature film “The Five Year Engagement,” a comedy starring Emily Blunt and Jason Segal. Muni has chartered streetcars numerous times for film and commercial work. We… — Read More
This great picture by Patrick Boury is just one of more than 3,000 F-line and cable car pictures on Market Street Railway’s Flickr group. It’s No. 1053, the “Brooklyn Dodger,” crossing First Street, striped by the taillights of passing vehicles. By the way, the original name of the Giants’ arch-rival team (both when in New York and now) was the “Trolley Dodgers.” So No. 1053 is welcome in our town, even if the team named for the trolleys isn’t.