The latest addition to the Powell Street “vintage livery” fleet hits the streets for the first time today (Monday, June 22), with a public ceremony at 10:45 a.m. at the Cable Car Barn, Washington and Mason Streets to unveil newly built car No. 15. The Chronicle touts it this morning with lots of detail on its construction. Click on the thumbnail below by Carmen Magana of the SFMTA for a big, glorious view.
Rather than repeating the Chronicle’s details, we’ll mention that the cable car shop and top Muni leadership have been very receptive to Market Street Railway’s efforts to expand the number of vintage liveries on the Powell Street cable cars. Last September, heavily rebuilt Powell car no. 25 returned to the streets in a red and creme United Railroads livery, the one the Powell cars featured on the fateful morning of April 18, 1906, when most of the cable car system was destroyed by earthquake and fire.
The yellow, red, and buff livery being unveiled today was the immediate predecessor to that red United Railroads livery, at least for the Powell-Mason cars. In the days of the Market Street Railway Company of 1893, which operated the Powell cars from that date until United Railroads took over in 1902, cable cars were color-coded by line. Since only the Powell-Mason line has survived from the lines then housed at the Washington-Mason car barn, that line’s livery was chosen for replication on car No. 15. David Dugan of Market Street Railway recreated the “owner’s logo” on the lower side panels by using historic photos to design a decal that the cable car painters installed. MSR also purchased some special paint for the red pinstripes, saving the paint crew from going through the exhaustive city procurement process.
With the introduction of car No. 15, almost all the major historic Powell Street cable car liveries are represented in the active fleet. A few of the existing vintage schemes will be tweaked in coming years to enhance their historic accuracy, and Market Street Railway hopes that the next Powell cable car to be rebuilt will be painted in the first Municipal Railway green and cream scheme, the one on the Powell cars in 1947 — when Friedel Klussman stepped up and saved them from extinction.