10/15/17 — Twice!

Here are two photos at the same location. One taken 100 years ago today, the other taken…today.

On October 15, 1917, United Railroads photographer John Henry Mentz shot the black-and-white photo at the top, looking north from 18th Street on what was then called Kentucky Street. Soon, Kentucky would have its name changed to match the street it connected with several blocks north at China Basin — Third Street. (To the south of Islais Creek, Railroad Avenue would get Third Street’s name as well.)

The tracks going straight belong to the 16 and 29 lines of United Railroads. A block north, at Mariposa, you can see them bend right onto a viaduct that took them over the busy Southern Pacific railroad tracks that ran east-west along 16th Street. The viaduct would last more than a half century longer before being demolished, later used by automobiles and trucks.

The tracks turning to the left belong to the 22-Fillmore streetcar line, which turned onto Kentucky and terminated in the carbarn on Third near 23rd Street. A municipal election is near, hence the campaign posters, including the one to “Re-elect George Lull City Attorney” over the saloon door to the left. A lone Model-T sits at the curb by the saloon, and a horse-drawn wagon lingers at the corner of Mariposa.

Fast forward to today. The 22-Fillmore STILL turns this corner, beginning its terminal loop (though it has been a trolley bus line for almost 70 years). The streetcar tracks on Third that disappeared in 1941 are back, carrying Muni’s T-Third line for the past ten years. There’s a track switch in the intersection again as well, but this time, it’s for the short-turn streetcar loop that was started during T-line construction and is only now being completed. The saloon is gone, replaced by a popular Dogpatch restaurant, Moshi Moshi. Can’t be sure, but it’s probably the same building, much altered. That building, though, will soon give way to new housing in this rapidly changing neighborhood, as will the venerable Carpenter’s Union hall on the right side of the photo. And the new Warriors arena, Chase Center, is now rising where the north end of that streetcar viaduct used to be.

What a difference a century makes…and doesn’t make. (Long live the 22 and streetcar tracks on Third!)

Thanks to our friends at SFMTA Archive for the historic photo.

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Boost for E-line Extension to Mission Bay, Dogpatch

Vintage streetcars already run through Mission Bay and Dogpatch on their way in and out of service, so why not run E-line historic streetcars here?

Vintage streetcars already run through Mission Bay and Dogpatch on their way in and out of service, so why not run E-line historic streetcars here?

Market Street Railway has been strongly advocating for extensions of the E-Embarcadero vintage streetcar line west from Fisherman’s Wharf to Fort Mason, and south from the Caltrain Depot at Fourth and King. The southern extension would use the existing T-line tracks via Fourth, Channel, and Third Streets to serve the proposed Giants’ Mission Rock development and Warriors’ Arena, UCSF Mission Bay, three new shoreline parks, and thousands of new residences now coming on line or in the pipeline in Mission Bay and Dogpatch.

A new opinion piece in the Examiner offers strong support for our idea. Penned by J. R. Eppler and Tony Kelly, the leaders of the influential Potrero Hill Boosters neighborhood group, it notes the benefits of the southern E-line extension to residents and businesses alike. The Potrero Hill Boosters join neighborhood and small business groups in  Dogpatch and Mission Bay/South Beach/Rincon Hill in supporting the extension. In fact, it was neighborhood initiative that led us to extend our vision for the E-line all the way through Dogpatch. (We originally envisioned an extended E-line turning back near Pier 70, but neighbors urged us to consider the projected explosive residential growth from there to Islais Creek, and we agreed.)

As the Examiner story points out, the historic streetcars currently run this route every day anyway, going to and from Muni Metro East at 26th and Illinois, where they are currently stored. maps vietnam An existing, underused loop track through that facility could provide a terminal for the extended E-line at no capital cost, or a new terminal track could easily be constructed on Illinois between Cesar Chavez and 25th Street, leveraging the existing switches at Third Street to keep costs to a minimum.

There’s no question more transit is needed in this fastest growing part of San Francisco.  We’re pleased that the Potrero Hill Boosters see the E-line as an important part of the solution.

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“The Streetcar Named Common Sense”

That’s how Joel P. Engardio, columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, described Market Street Railway’s proposal to extend the E-Embarcadero line, south through Mission Bay and Dogpatch, sharing existing tracks of the T-Third light rail line.
In his April 27 column, Engardio cited strong support for the extended line in the neighborhoods it would serve. “We are exploding with development and we need more transit options,” Engardio quoted Janet Carpinelli, president of the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association, as saying. “Putting in the E-line is a no-brainer, especially when the T-line is so inefficient.”


1856 Central Waterfront Ehrlich 2012.jpg

A Milan tram passes a T-line light rail vehicle on Third Street at 23rd Street in Dogpatch.Since October 2012, Muni’s Milan trams have been housed at Muni Metro East a few blocks away, with no incidences of them interfering with T-line operations when they enter and leave service via Third Street through Mission Bay and Dogpatch. This part of Third Street is slated for major residential and commercial development. Photo Copyright Peter Ehrlich.

The column also supported our belief that the relocation of the proposed Warriors Arena site to Third and 16th Streets makes E-line service through Mission Bay and Dogpatch even more important.
Engardio also laid out the case for extending the E-line at its other end, from Fisherman’s Wharf to serve Aquatic Park, the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Ghirardelli Square, and Fort Mason.
Again, here’s the link to Engardio’s column.

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Warriors Arena in Mission Bay Boosts Importance of Extending the E-Line

The Warriors now say their future lies on the border of Mission Bay and Dogpatch, instead of a mile farther north on Piers 30-32. The 125-foot tall, 18,000-seat arena the basketball team proposed to build over the Bay along the southern Embarcadero is now slated for a site the Warriors just bought on the east side of Third Street, between South and 16th Streets.
Unlike the Pier 30-32 site, this site fits within current zoning and would need only a fraction of the approvals and reviews of the pier site. Prominent opponents of the pier site, including former Mayor Art Agnos and former Supervisor Aaron Peskin, are cheering the Warriors’ choice of the Mission Bay site, so while no proposed development ever encounters totally smooth sailing in San Francisco, this one looks to have a strong chance of actually getting built.


KSheridan 3rd St photo.jpg

A vintage PCC streetcar, in special service, pauses at the station on Third Street that would serve the new Warriors arena, as a T-line light rail vehicle heads in the other direction. Market Street Railway advocates permanent E-line vintage streetcar service through Mission Bay and Dogpatch by the time the Warriors arena opens, slated for 2018. Copyrighted photo by Kevin Sheridan.

That makes the extension of the E-Embarcadero historic streetcar line even more important. Muni’s parent, SFMTA, now says they’ll begin preliminary weekend service on the E-line next year, but only between the Caltrain Depot (Fourth and King Streets) and Fisherman’s Wharf. As our members and readers of this blog know well, Market Street Railway is joined by a growing number of neighborhood and business groups in advocating the extension of the E-line, west from the Wharf to Fort Mason on new track, and south from Caltrain along the existing T-line tracks on Third Street, terminating at Muni Metro East at Cesar Chavez and Illinois Streets.
This southern extension would connect the rapidly multiplying residential developments in Mission Bay and Dogpatch, the fast-growing UCSF Mission Bay campus, the Giants’ mixed-use development just south of China Basin and the large proposed developments at Pier 70 with all the waterfront attractions to the north, including the Ferry Building, the Exploratorium, and the Wharf area.
The E-line extension was already justified, in our view, by the existing and in-process developments alone. Add a new arena that will host in excess of 200 events a year, and an extended E-line becomes a necessity to avoid gridlock in the neighborhood.
Remember that the T-Third light rail line, which currently turns east at Fourth and King to follow the waterfront before dipping into the Market Street Subway, will be rerouted into the Central Subway when it’s finished in 2019. That’s great for those moving between the arena and Moscone Center, Powell Street BART, Union Square, and Chinatown, but it also means no more direct rail service from Mission Bay and Dogpatch to the southern Embarcadero. An extended E-line would provide that service and continue to popular destinations to the north, up to and including Fisherman’s Wharf. The E-line makes it easy to combine a day or meal at the Wharf with an evening event at the arena.
You can read about, and download our comprehensive vision for the E-line here. Note that since we published our vision last year, we’ve joined Dogpatch neighbors and businesses in advocating that the E-line extend farther south than shown in the document, all the way through Dogpatch.
We’ll continue to work with neighborhood and business groups along the E-line to make our vision a reality. It’s clearly needed more now than ever.

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Our E-line Vision Gaining Attention

In the wake of several successful weekends of vintage streetcar service the length of The Embarcadero on the E-line, the Curbed website posted a story on our vision for an extended E-line service today. That, in turn, spawned a post on SFist. Curbed drew on the document we’ve been distributing around town, which you can download here. Recently restored E-line PCC streetcar No. 1008 switches off the F-line tracks onto the connector track that will take it the rest of… — Read More

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