Happy 98th Birthday, Muni! And for your present…

On December 28, 1912, Mayor James Rolph, Junior stepped onto a streetcar platform at Geary and Kearny Streets. He deposited one of the first 40 nickels to be minted in San Francisco into the farebox and took the controls, piloting the streetcar westward out Geary to Tenth Avenue, to open America’s first publicly owned big city transit system. Here’s a picture of that first run, with the Mayor highballing across Jones Street.

1_122812_Geary_Jones.jpg

And as a 98th birthday present, Muni welcomes back that very streetcar, No. 1, from a total rebuilding at Brookville Equipment Company in Pennsylvania.

Car 1 at Metro East 122410.jpgThe work took longer than expected — the contract called for delivery in May, but the contractor took great pains to preserve the historic fabric of the streetcar. From initial observation, they did a fabulous job on the appearance of the streetcar.  Of greatest importance, of course, is how it runs.

One day short of its 98th birthday, it took its first tests after delivery in the Metro East yard, just running back and forth on a track inside the yard.  It will not operate on its birthday proper — hey, you should get that day off! — but there is still talk of a ceremony later this week. We will let you know as soon as we hear anything.

Market Street Railway is working with Muni on its 2012 centennial, where No. 1 will play a central role. Those wishing to volunteer to pitch in on events for the centennial should send us an email here.

Comments: 7

  1. To borrow a line from that 70’s hit “Convoy”, “Ain’t she a beautiful sight.” One question comes to mind: I recall reading many years ago that some of the Muni pre-PCC cars had weak spots in their structures, either from design compromises or use of less than ideal materials. If the original group had these shortcomings, were they addressed and improved upon in the #1 project, thus making the car better than new?

  2. I have never heard of any structural problem with the “A-types,” (Muni cars 1-43). Some of the homebuilt Market Street Railway cars had problems through use of soft wood instead of hardwood in framing, etc., but Car 1 has always been solid.

  3. This sort of rebuilding gives new meaning to Diane Feinstein’s admonition (when she gave the go-ahead to the trolley festivals): “I don’t want to see any junk out there”. One can hope, at least, that 130 will go in next, with MSR’s last known car, 798 following at some short interlude thereafter. It’s nice that the vintage cars are now making the trip up to the Castro—or have been recently—as those of us who live here don’t really have an opportunity to ride them otherwise, unless we happen to be down at the Ferry Building, and one happens to be departing, and we can drop whatever we were doing to ride it.
    Now of course, as if we were in an entirely different economy… it would also be nice if some of the historic bus fleet could be fixed up so that bustitutions, whenever necessary, could at least be more in theme. It’s not like Muni is short on vintage and historic buses, both diesel and electric…

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