Muni’s “Fireplace”

Flash back a half-century or more, when the West Portal of the Twin Peaks Tunnel was done up to resemble a giant brick fireplace, complements of local merchants. We see PCC Car 1010 about to plunge into the “hearth” on its trip downtown, emerging a few minutes later at Market and Castro Streets. 

Did you know that San Francisco is getting Car 1010 as a belated holiday present in the new year? It’s being completely renovated at Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania and should be back in the middle of the year, painted in Muni’s World War II era blue and yellow livery, ready for another quarter-century of service on the E- and F-lines.

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Incredible Film: Cable Cars on Pacific Ave., 1929

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. A couple of months ago, we got a call asking whether we recognized the location of a film. We did — Pacific Avenue. We had never seen motion pictures of that line, which closed in 1929. Now, the video has been posted on YouTube, with additional information on the provenance of the film.

It was professionally shot, with sound, by a Movietone Newsreel crew, which spent several days filming the line between Larkin and Divisadero, including the closing parade in November 1929. This was the last line still operating grip and trailer cars, and the crew was particularly intrigued by how they reversed direction at the end of the line. We were too.  Amazing to watch the ballet between the gripman and conductor as they swap the dummy and trailer to reverse direction. No layover, either!

The Pacific Avenue cable line was a real artifact. The Sutter Street Railroad ran several lines. This one, built in 1890-91 in an unusual wide (5-foot) gauge, ran up Ninth Street and Larkin to Pacific Avenue, then westward to Divisadero Street. After the 1906 earthquake, most of the line was converted to electric streetcar operation. But the Pacific Avenue portion was still cable operated, in part because of the grades, and in part because of the affluent neighborhood’s objections to “unsightly” overhead wires. United Railroads took over the line in 1902, then it passed to our namesake, Market Street Railway Company, in 1921. It was a big money loser for them, since it ran mostly along residential blocks and didn’t serve any real shopping or employment destinations. Besides, for much of its length, the 3-Jackson streetcar, which went straight downtown, ran parallel and just a block south. Market Street Railway finally won the right to abandon it and the farewell party is captured here.

The No. 46 grip car and No. 54 trailer car from this line are on display at the San Francisco Cable Car Museum. Joe Thompson’s Cable Car Guy website has the full history of this line, written by the incomparable Emiliano Echeverria and the late Walter Rice.

Some great scenes here. Love the two Pacific Heights matrons playing railfan, changing their seats to stay up front when the grip car reversed. The parade is priceless.

As always, we at Market Street Railway welcome your support in helping us preserve historic transit in San Francisco.

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Update: 916 Test Cut Short; Not Out the Rest of the Weekend

 

Muni tests cars for a good reason before they enter service. The “newest” member of the vintage fleet, 1946 Melbourne Tram 916, came out this morning for what was supposed to be two 12-hour days of testing along The Embarcadero and the T-line as far as Muni Metro East, to check out its systems following a recent rebuilding of its trucks.

The operating crew said the car ran like a dream from a propulsion and braking standpoint in its first couple of trips, but unfortunately, it developed a hot wheel bearing late Saturday morning and has safely operated to Muni Metro East, where it will be fixed by the maintenance team., They crew is excited about taking it out again soon, though it will almost certainly NOT be out Sunday, July 22.

The car looks great. Here’s a peek at its interior, taken before the test. Love those upholstered seats.

We’ll let you know when the 916 will be out again. Meanwhile, enjoy Melbourne 496 on the E-line this weekend.

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“Zurich” Car to Return To Service Soon?

Look what was testing in Cameron Beach Yard on Sunday (July 8).

Car 737, Muni’s lone European-style PCC streetcar has been out of service for some time. Built in 1952 for Brussels, Belgium, acquired by Muni in 2004, and painted (at then-Mayor Gavin Newsom’s request) to honor San Francisco’s sister city of Zurich, Switzerland (which ran similar-looking cars) it has needed parts and maintenance attention. But when word came that the Mayor of Zurich was coming to San Francisco later this year, it suddenly got that attention. We watched it glide through the yard smoothly. This video shows it moving slowly along the ladder tracks, but when it did an acceleration test on 14 Track, it zipped right along.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll even see it in service on the F-line one of these days.

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Buses on F-line, No E-line Sunday, June 24

The Pride Parade has been San Francisco’s summer kickoff celebration for more than decades now, with huge throngs lining Market Street to watch almost 300 parade units go by. Back in the 1980s, historic streetcars were actually part of the parade, shown here in 1983, as a Blackpool boat tram and Muni’s famed Car 1 participated. The boat tram’s authentic destination sign seemed particularly appropriate. This year, though, streetcars will be completely absent from the parade route, not only for the duration… — Read More

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Last Public Vintage Streetcar Charter of 2018: June 16

Much to our disappointment, Muni is suspending historic streetcar charters for seven months starting June 22, (except for our arrangements Operators’ Circle members charter on September 7). They cite, among other things, a shutdown of the T-line this fall due to construction of a new platform for the Warriors’ arena in Mission Bay. Whatever the merit of the reason, to the best of knowledge, there will be only one historic streetcar charter open to all Market Street Railway members and… — Read More

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Meet MSR Board Chair Carmen Clark April 17

Carmen Clark, pictured above with SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, is a long-time public transportation leader. She has served as executive director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, interim executive director of SFMTA (Muni) and has provided executive consulting services to numerous Bay Area and national public transit agency. We are delighted that she is the new chair of the Market Street Railway Board of Directors. Come meet Carmen for a casual, candid conversation about our organization’s goals… — Read More

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Colors, Forms of the F-line

San Francisco’s vintage streetcars, particularly the streamlined PCCs that provide most of the service on the E and F lines, keep attracting the eye of artists. We particularly like George Clapper, who we learned about the other day when we got a “pingback” request from another website, informing us that they had linked to our site. When we clicked on the link, our eyes were dazzled by a panoply of colors and shapes, photos by Mr. Clapper that show close-up… — Read More

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Visit Us at San Francisco History Days March 3-4

Visit the Old Mint on Fifth Street March 3-4 and join dozens of organizations, including Market Street Railway and SFMTA, celebrating and telling the stories of our City’s unique past. Meet community historians, archivists, genealogists, archaeologists, researchers, educators, re-enactors, and other history enthusiasts at this free event. Lots of details here. You can take the F-line to the Fifth Street stop, or BART or Muni Metro to Powell Street station. Great for kids too.  

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Say ‘G’day’ to Melbourne on the E-line this weekend

UPDATE: Melbourne 496 is now scheduled regularly on the E-line on Saturdays and Sundays, until further notice. An old friend will be carrying all comers on the E-line from Caltrain to Fisherman’s Wharf this weekend. Melbourne tram 496, built in 1928, is back in revenue service for the first time since last September’s Muni Heritage Weekend. The Melbourne tram is scheduled to fill regular E-line run 201 both Saturday and Sunday, February 3-4. Its GPS is said to be operational… — Read More

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Rebuilt PCC 1050 Heads to SF, Honoring St. Louis

  Our “spies” are everywhere, as evidenced by this photo posted by Jim Kulczyk in a Facebook group called “Civil Defense Fire Vehicles.” He writes: “My sister is a truck driver somewhere in [Southwest Pennsylvania] and caught this electric trolley being transported on a flat bed. Couldn’t help but notice the CD insignia. Looks to be in great museum condition.” Well, yes, but more than that it should be in great OPERATING condition because it has just finished being thoroughly… — Read More

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Happy 2018 and Thanks!

We at Market Street Railway wish everyone a happy and healthy 2018. We want to take the opportunity to thank all our members and donors, including the many who joined, renewed, or contributed in the past week. We ourselves were deluged with repeated solicitations from all kinds of worthy organizations in the past month, the same or similar appeals coming over and over both in email and snail mail. We elected instead to send out just one email request to… — Read More

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Happy 105th Birthday, Muni!

On December 28, 1912, 50,000 people flooded Geary Street near Market. They were there to cheer a streetcar! More exactly, ten streetcars, lined up in numerical order pointed west, led by Car 1. It was the opening of the first publicly owned transit system in a major American city: the Municipal Railway of San Francisco. The new city-owned streetcar line on Geary was a product of the Progressive Era, which called for ownership of public utilities by the public, not… — Read More

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Positively (Twenty-)Fourth Street

Okay, the headline reference is anachronistic, because this shot goes WAY back beyond Dylan. So evocative, though, we couldn’t resist the reference. Few are still around who remember streetcars on 24th Street, now the cultural center of the City’s Latino community and known to many as Calle 24. But here we are in 1938 (based on the streetcar and the automobile license plate) looking east on 24th at York Street, staring at a 35-Howard line streetcar. It has just descended… — Read More

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121 Years in One Day

Muni Supervisor Robert Parks, who trains operators on every type of streetcar and light rail vehicle in the city, may have set a record today. In the morning (above), he trained operators on Muni’s newest model of LRV, Siemens car 2001, delivered earlier this year. (The first Siemens cars are due to start carrying paying passengers next month.) Above. 2001at the N-Judah Ocean Beach terminal. Then, he got a call — could he do a shop move, transferring 1896 single-truck… — Read More

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