The LA Times Finds Streetcar Magic in San Francisco

melbourne496.whiteman.pngLast weekend the LA Times ran a nice article in its Sunday travel section about the simple pleasures of the F Line, and how San Francisco’s vintage streetcar fleet adds such color to everyday life in the city.


I always imagined a trainspotter as an English eccentric in an anorak,
lurking about railways junctions and scribbling down train numbers in
notebooks. I found this an inexplicable pastime until I discovered the
joy of spotting different F trains as they glide about San Francisco.
Now the simple act of catching public transport in this city has become a
treasure hunt. There’s New Orleans! Melbourne, Australia! Los Angeles!
With antique streetcars from dozens of cities around the world, it’s a
transport museum on the streets.

She also throws in a nice mention of MSR’s museum:

I went to the San Francisco Railway Museum to find out more about the F
fleet. The museum, a single room on Steuart Street at the Embarcadero,
is not much bigger than a streetcar, but it is crammed with artifacts
such as vintage fare boxes and traffic signals. The museum is free, but
any money you spend in its gift shop helps fund restoration of the
historic trams.

Although Melbourne, Australia trams that are now part of the F Line fleet, she also takes note of other unique vehicles, like the Milan streetcars and the Blackpool boat tram.

Most importantly, though, the article is a nice reminder of the “halo effect” vintage streetcars have on San Francisco’s streets, because they have the curious ability to make even mundane moments seem exotic and magical.

“The green-and-gold [Melbourne] tram trundled down the road, a small Australian flag
hanging out the driver’s window,” “I stared in amazement, momentarily
forgetting my morning coffee.” For many San Francisco locals and visitors alike, that’s a familiar experience.

Image: Melbourne car No. 496 enters service via Dolores Park and the J Line. Photo by Jeremy Whiteman.