Knowing that fans of San Francisco’s vintage streetcars have lots of related interests, we’ve been venturing a bit afield on this blog … last post was vintage amphibious vehicles. This time it’s toy trains in an airplane palace. That would be the International Terminal at SFO, where through early April there’s a great exhibit of toy trains spanning the 20th century, mostly Lionel, but with plenty of variety thrown in.
While I was a Lionel kid myself (and still set ’em up for my kids every Christmas), I never knew that the company made toy trolleys early in the century. As the exhibit notes:
“At the turn of the century, trolley cars served as the major form of mass transit in many American cities, and Lionel mirrored this trend by selling a variety of toy trolleys. In 1916, the Pay-As-You-Enter Trolley [pictured here] came in motorized and trailer versions in cream, olive green, or orange. Lionel abandoned its extensive trolley line by the mid-teens due to the increasing popularity of toy trains.”
But not completely. The exhibit also includes the Lionelville Trolley from the 1950s, modeled on a Birney. Overwhelmingly, though, the exhibit is trains, and it is glorious to see. It’s only up through early April, so don’t delay.
While you’re there, walk a few steps to see the Louis Turpen Aviation Museum near the train exhibit, set in a wonderful recreation of the passenger waiting room at old Mills Field, SFO’s predecessor. The current exhibit is called, “Painted Wings, A HIstory of Airline Identity” with great brand and marketing materials from such bygone carriers as PanAm, PSA, Braniff, and Hughes AirWest. The Turpen Aviation Museum is open 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m Sunday through Friday, but closed on Saturdays.
Combine the two museum exhibits with a BART ride direct to the International Terminal, and who needs to fly?