August 2, 1873 — In the wee small hours of a misty San Francisco night (they didn’t call the month “Fogust” back then, but it was), a new type of transit was about to be inaugurated. An endless wire rope clattered beneath Clay Street. An odd open vehicle sat on the rails at the top of the hill. Standing by was Andrew Smith Hallidie, a Scot who had experience using wire rope in the mining business, and was part of the team promoting this new technology, aimed at making horsecars obsolete.
Posts with Photos
Happy 109th Birthday, Muni!
As the photo makes plain, that was one wild first ride on Muni. Emblematic, we think, of the past 20 months, with constant adjustments made to Muni’s network during the pandemic to meet unprecedented challenges.
Forty frustrating years underground
The idea of a transit subway under Market Street goes back to the first years of the 20th century, but it took more than 70 fitful years to become reality. That’s a complex and fascinating story we tell in this companion post, which explains the compromises that harmed Muni’s subway operation from the get-go.
Market Street subway dreams
Hard for some of us San Franciscans of a certain age to think of the Muni subway under Market Street as a part of history. Because that means that we ourselves…well, you know.
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.
Patriarch Streetcar Turns 125
According to our historian, the redoubtable Emiliano Echeverria, 125 years ago, August 10, 1896 (give or take a day), a new streetcar was delivered for service in San Francisco. Streetcars themselves had only become a viable transit technology eight years before in Richmond, Virginia. San Francisco had opened its first streetcar line only four years earlier, in 1892, but transit companies led by Market Street Railway Company were busy already, replacing some cable car lines with streetcars and building new lines with the electric vehicles.
Welcome back, F-line!
San Francisco’s famed (and much missed) F-Market & Wharves historic streetcar line is carrying happy passengers again. Regular service began on Saturday, May 15, with Boston PCC 1059 the first car to reach Fisherman’s Wharf, followed by Detroit 1079, as documented below by Matt Lee. As a bonus, the four-block loop through the Wharf from Pier 39 to the fishing fleet’s harbor at Jones Street, was back in service after having been shut down in Fall 2019 for construction on Jefferson Street, as shown in the photo above, by Jeremy Whiteman, featuring Philadelphia PCC 1055.
St. Patrick’s Day, 1906
Workers of Irish extraction played a major part in laying and maintaining track for United Railroads in 1906. Here’s a crew at work on tracks along Fourth Street, looking north from Bryant. It’s dated March 17, 1906, one month and one day before the earthquake and fire that devastated San Francisco.
F-line to return in May, Hyde cable later this year!
Mayor London Breed told a group from Fisherman’s Wharf this morning that F-line vintage streetcar service will return to the full length of the route, from Castro to Fisherman’s Wharf, in May.
Black barrier-breakers in San Francisco transit
San Francisco didn’t always have a reputation for openness and inclusion. The city’s past has been marred by discrimination in many forms. For example, before World War II, all but a small number of city employees were white.
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