Harold Geissenheimer died earlier this month. He was a long-time transit executive and rabid streetcar fan who played a key role in creating the F-line.
Geissenheimer was brought in to run Muni by then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein, just as a small group of us were planning the first Trolley Festival, which began service on Market Street in June 1983.
Geissenheimer, pictured here (right) in 1984 with activist/motorman Maurice Klebolt and Klebolt’s 1954 Hamburg tram, took a huge interest in the Trolley Festival, and drove Muni staff to ensure that it performed well. Geissenheimer actually terrified many Muni employees, who were used to up-from-the-ranks general managers who generally followed a “go-along, get-along” attitude. Geissenheimer, on the other hand, would personally appear at any hour in any Muni facility to see who was doing their job and who was not. He demanded better performance and, for a time anyway, generally got it.
While the Trolley Festival would have happened anyway without Geissenheimer, I have no doubt it would not have been as successful. He left Muni suddenly in 1986 and spent most of his remaining years as a transit consultant, among the most knowledgeable in the business on how transit really works (and why it often doesn’t).
In the next issue of our member newsletter, Inside Track, we will have some recollections of Harold’s tenure at Muni, including stories of his special historic streetcar excursions. Click here to join Market Street Railway and receive our newsletter.