Muni Centennial Officially Under Way

Muni’s centennial officially kicked off this morning with the rededication of streetcar No. 1 at our San Francisco Railway Museum. Since we were involved in the action, hosting VIPs at the museum and speaking at the event, we’re glad our good friends at Muni Diaries shared the news quickly. The event combined speeches to an audience of several hundred invited guests in a tent opposite the museum and an inaugural ride on Car 1, with ridership limited for security reasons. (Though the venerable flagship of the fleet was made available to guests for a ride to Pier 39 right after the inaugural ride.)
Couple of notes:
Mayor Ed Lee reprised the role of predecessors starting with “Sunny Jim” Rolph by operating the car along Market from Steuart to Eighth Street. He showed a steady hand on the controller and an excellent touch on the air brake for a first timer. Of course, he had a great teacher in operator Angel Carvajal, who stood attentively by.
Mayor Lee also got some tips from a veteran “motormayor,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, who operated a variety of cars on Trolley Festival opening days in the 1980s, including the open top Blackpool “boat tram.” (She said she hoped it was still in the fleet. “Yes, Senator, you bet!”) Around Fifth Street, Mayor Lee offered the controls to the Senator, who said, “Thanks, Ed, but that’s the Mayor’s job!”


Sen. Feinstein (on platform) graciously agreed to serve as honorary chair of Muni’s Centennial Committee. Photogs snap away at this group shot of committee members, including MSR President Rick Laubscher (next to the Senator). Mayor Ed Lee (at left on platform was joined by SFMTA head Ed Reiskin and Board Chair Tom Nolan (flanking Sen. Feinstein at street level) in leading today’s Mun’s Centennial kickoff.

Senator Feinstein showed why she has always been one of the classiest elected officials (and people) around, using her remarks to spread the credit around for the F-line when all who are closely involved know it wouldn’t have happened without her strong advocacy and constant championing.
Sen. Feinstein told a great story about riding the ORIGINAL F-line (F-Stockton that is) when she was just a tot. “We lived in a flat on Fillmore near Beach Street back then. I would get on the F-car [at Chestnut] and ride it through North Beach to 450 Sutter. [Her dad was a doctor.} I hadn’t learned to read yet, and had to ask the conductor which was the right street.”
We’ve heard countless stories from Muni riders that have some similarity to the Senator’s; it’s just another reminder of how many lives Muni has touched — and of the days when a small girl’s parents felt safe letting her ride Muni on her own.
By the way, if you haven’t had the chance to peruse the many stories about Muni history on this site, click on the “blog” tab at the top of the page, choose “History Spotlight” on the tabs underneath it, and click on titles that catch your fancy. And to see a truly funny story about Dianne Feinstein’s first encounter with a rail fan, click here.

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A Streetcar Named Undesirable

Editor’s Note: This article, by Marshall Kilduff, appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 15, 1979. Maurice Klebolt went on to become a board member of Market Street Railway and one of the forces behind the Historic Trolley Festivals from 1983-87 that led to the permanent F-Market and Wharves vintage streetcar line.

A German streetcar was trundled on the back of a flatbed truck to the front steps of City Hall yesterday where city officials fashioned a reluctant welcome for the unbidden gift.

Maurice Klebolt (left) with his pride and joy, Hamburg tram No. 3557, about 1984, some five years  <a style=

The occasion was pronounced “a triumph” by Maurice Klebolt, the portly Municipal Railway gadfly who brought the 35-year old tram from Hamburg but neglected to tell the Muni.

City officials, whose annoyance showed through their ceremonial manners, announced the unsolicited gift will be stored away on a siding at the Geneva carbarn, probably for good.

Klebolt and his band of Muni nostalgia buffs and critics—known as the Citizens Advisory Panel for Transit Improvement—had sweet-talked Hamburg officials into turning over the car, made obsolete there by a new subway system.

Klebolt, happy as a clam, raised the money—including $1500 of his own—to ship the tram from Germany. The Hapag-Lloyd shipping line carried the car at a discount rate. Klebolt was in fine fettle yesterday. Mayor Dianne Feinstein was winding up a ceremony on the City Hall steps with Canadian tourism officials from Ontario when Klebolt sidled up and presented her with a spray of red roses.

The mayor turned to her perplexed guests and explained the newcomer as though he were an eccentric uncle who had been told to stay upstairs during a parlor wedding.

“Mr. Klebolt has paid for this streetcar. But we don’t quite know what to do with it, you see,” she smiled icily.

No. 3557 participates in the parade marking the centennial of San Francisco’s first streetcar line, 1992. Market Street Railway photo. Click to enlarge.

Feinstein, who had already been presented with a gold chrome bottle of Canadian whiskey and a toy cannon, looked around for somewhere to stow the flowers. She spied a couple of French newlyweds, Jacky and Susan Baudot, who had chosen that moment in their lives to leave City Hall after being married by Judge Gerald J. O’Gara.

“Congratulations. I’m sure you’ll be very happy,” she said, handing off the roses to the startled couple.

Everyone posed for pictures while Klebolt moved off to the red tram, sitting on rusty rails on a flatbed truck.

Despite its advance billing as a “beauty,” the tram was missing its turn signals, rearview mirrors and inside light fixtures. Klebolt rubbed a dent on the tram’s flank.

Its interior was fitted in mahogany, true enough, but the slatted floor installed for the wet north German weather resembled the working area of a luncheonette.

“It’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen,” said Muni general manager Richard Sklar bravely.

“Every transit system should have one sitting in its yard for five years,” he added.

undesirable-3.jpgMarket Street Railway photo.

Sklar and Klebolt had a gentlemanly exchange about who was to pay the final trucking costs to the Muni’s Geneva yard. Klebolt assured him his group was good for all expenses.

Klebolt’s masterplan is to round up even more old discarded cars from “international centers of transit” such as Calcutta, Milan, Kyoto, and Melbourne.

The cars would be run along a proposed Embarcadero line, estimated by Muni officials to be five years off.

“Looks like we’ll need about 12,” Klebolt said.

Editor’s Note: Maurice Klebolt passed away in 1988. He is memorialized in Remembering a Trolley Titan article, from our member newsletter Inside TrackRegular streetcar service on The Embarcadero was not five years off, as “estimated by Muni officials” in the article, but 21. The F-line extension along the northern Embarcadero opened in 2000.

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