The streamlined design “PCC” streetcar once ran in 33 cities across North America, but many would say if the PCC had a “home” it was St. Louis, in large part because of St. Louis Car Company, which built 75% of U.S. PCCs, including every PCC streetcar Muni has ever owned.
Of the thousands of PCCs that rolled off the St. Louis Car Company assembly lines, 300 went to work on the streets of St. Louis itself. St. Louis Public Service Company (SLPS) was the city’s transit operator, acquiring its PCCs in batches of 100 in 1940, 1941, and 1946. After World War II, transit demand dropped in St. Louis as elsewhere, and the number of St. Louis streetcar lines was gradually pared back, with surplus PCCs sold off to such cities as Philadelphia, Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Tampico, Mexico.
But the biggest single batch of St. Louis Public Service PCCs came west to San Francisco in a 1957 lease deal. Those 66 cars, augmented by four more in 1962, allowed Muni to complete conversion of its five streetcar lines, the J, K, L, M, and N to the modern PCCs from their boxy antique predecessors, which had come to be known as “Iron Monsters”. St. Louis Public Service was taken over by a government agency in 1963, and the last streetcar left the streets of St. Louis in 1966.
Those 70 SLPS PCCs that came to Muni soldiered on until 1982. In fact, one of Muni’s ex-SLPS cars, No. 1128, was repainted into its original St. Louis livery and given back its original SLPS number, 1704, to appear in the San Francisco Historic Trolley Festivals through 1987. Muni still retains a number of actual ex-SLPS PCCs, but all need complete rehabilitation to run again. So, in 2016 it was decided to honor St. Louis by repainting Car No. 1050 in SLPS livery. (It had originally been painted in the Muni “Wings” livery when the F-line opened, but three original Muni cars were subsequently restored in the “Wings”, making No. 1050 available to represent another city.)
As for St. Louis Car Company, it built its last PCC in 1952. That car, Muni’s No. 1040, has been restored to its original appearance – and “Wings” livery – and still operates as part of the Muni fleet today.
Originally built for
Philadelphia Transportation Company, Philadelphia PA, 1948 (as car No. 2119)
Acquired by Muni from
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Philadelphia PA, 1992
St. Louis Car Co.
4 Westinghouse 1432J