Happy Labor Day 2016! Here’s a shout out to San Francisco past and present, who built, maintained, and operated our transit system. Its history was punctuated by struggles on behalf of unions, including strikes that cost workers’ lives early in the century, that led to a solid union environment today.
In celebration of the hundreds of thousands of good jobs transit provided through the decades, two photos from the wonderful SFMTA Archives (with a hat tip to Archivist Jeremy Menzies and the staff and volunteers that have unlocked this priceless resource to the public). Above, on Kentucky Street (now Third Street between China Basin and Islais Creek) is one of San Francisco’s first electric streetcars, built by San Francisco workers at the Hammond car shop (which also built cable cars), operating on the Third and Kearny line, somewhere between 1894 and 1899. Being a streetcar motorman or conductor was a prestigious job in that era. On Saturday and Sunday, September 24-25 , you can ride its sister car 578, free, between our San Francisco Railway Museum and Pier 39. Car 578 is scheduled to operate both days from about 11 a.m. to about 4 p.m.
Below, track workers install new switches and track at Market and McAllister in 1911. Maintenance crews don’t always get the credit they’re due, because they generally work behind the scenes, but transit wouldn’t work without them. This scene will actually be replicated in a few years when, as part of the Better Market Street Project, Muni will install a track loop at this site, a single track turning off Market onto McAllister and then south onto Charles Brenham Place (Seventh Street North) to allow additional F-line service between Civic Center and Fisherman’s Wharf when needed.
Thanks to all the workers of San Francisco transit companies over the past 156 years. You’ve built more than transit. You’ve built a city!