TBT: Roaring ’20s 33-Stanyan

Market_Street_Extension,_original_condition_at_switchback,_Mono_and_Caselli_1921_AAB-6185

Does this look familiar to our 33-Stanyan (er, 33-Ashbury/18th) regulars?

Today, it’s the scene of unparalleled Muni operator skill — the Market-Clayton switchback is srsly no joke. These same streets back in the day, 1921 to be exact, weren’t easy to navigate for ye olde streetcars, either. But operators came up with a creative solution to a problematic switchback. More on the Market Street switchback at Mono, Caselli, and Clayton from FoundSF.org:

This sharp turn from Clayton to Market was not negotiable by early streetcars so operators would “switch” the backs of the passenger seats at Market Street, thereby “switching” the streetcar in the reverse direction.

Before, in 1925:
Market-and-Clayton-switchback-(Market-called-Falcon-until-1927)-c-1920_SFDPW

After, in 2010:

Castro1$switchback-1919
Photo: Michael Greene, San Francisco, CA

Thanks to reader Robert Holt for the tip.

More #TBT:
Ever heard of Muni’s 1-Sutter?
Awesome vintage video documents fight to save cable cars

2 comments

  • Dexter Wong

    The 33 Line is one of the oldest streetcar lines in the city, having been built as 18th and Park branch of the San Francisco & San Mateo Railway in 1894. (The railway later became part of the Market St. Ry. which was absorbed into Muni in 1944.) The streetcars used on this line had bench seats that ran along the walls (longitudinal or “bowling alley” seats) so no one had to sit backwards. In 1935, the Market St. Ry. converted the 33 to trolley coach (first in the city), producing the famous hairpin turn at Market & Clayton.

  • Over time the road has changed a lot. Before it was a deserted road, now houses had sprung up and become a modern street.
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