On December 28, 1912, America’s first big city transit line owned by the people themselves opened. In San Francisco, on Geary Street. The San Francisco Municipal Railway broke the pattern of transit systems owned by private companies.
This shot, from the SFMTA Archives, shows some of the 50,000 San Franciscans who showed up to cheer “their” new streetcars on Opening Day, looking west at the intersection of Grant Avenue and Geary. Car No. 3 is in the foreground, Car No.2 across the intersection, and, leading the parade, Car No. 1, with Mayor “Sunny Jim” Rolph personally serving as motorman. Car No. 1 still serves as the flagship of Muni’s streetcar fleet, 102 years later, completely rebuilt a few years ago thanks to San Francisco’s strong commitment to its history (with some help from Market Street Railway’s advocacy). It runs occasionally on the F-Market and Wharves line.
Come to our San Francisco Railway Museum to see the story of Muni’s quick expansion from this first Geary service to a network serving much of the city — completed in just over two years to serve the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. (The museum will be closed December 30-January 1 for inventory and New Year’s Day, but after that will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays on our winter schedule.)
Happy 102nd Birthday, Muni!