Market Street rails turn 150!


Image by Market Street Railway Blog

There’s another anniversary happening today. One that we transit nerds at Muni Diaries HQ feel deserves as much pomp and circumstance as Independence Day.

SFGate’s Carl Nolte has a story up that details the background of why putting a streetcar on Market Street was so revolutionary in 1860:

Surveyor Jasper O’Farrell had laid out Market as a grand boulevard in the 1850s, but the infant San Francisco grew up around Portsmouth Square not far from Telegraph Hill. If San Francisco had a main street it was Montgomery, where all the best businesses were located. […]

The route of the pioneering Market Street rail line went through “wild country, the middle of nowhere,” [Emiliano] Echeverria said.

The rail line changed all that. “It set the wheels in motion, if you’ll pardon the expression,” Echeverria said.

And Market Street Railway Blog celebrates this glorious day in transit history thusly:

Eighty-four years after the Declaration of Independence was, er, declared on July 4, 1776, the first street railway on the Pacific Coast opened. It was an odd-looking railroad-type coach, powered by steam, running from Third and Market (pictured below) to 16th and Valencia. By 1867, the noisy steam engine aroused enough neighbors’ ire to be replaced by horsecars. (Guess they preferred the manure.) Cable cars took over as the predominant Market Street transit in 1883, succeeded by electric streetcars in 1906, which endure today as the F-line.

Both stories are worth a read.

Happy SF Transit Independence Day!

One comment

  • Carlos

    ahh history.. i dont know what it is but i love looking into san francisco’s past. thanks for posting this 🙂

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