San Francisco Municipal Railway

by Joe Thompson

Where Should I Go from Here? Visit the Map


Muni herald
Muni 100 Years -- 1912-2012

28-December-2012 was the 100th birthday of the San Francisco Municipal Railway. Please visit my new page on the 100th birthday
Muni worm


Washington/Mason Powell/Hyde and Powell/Mason cars meet by the Washington/Mason powerhouse and car barn. Photograph courtesy of the Artcom Museum Tour. Jun, 1998 Picture of the Month.

line: Powell/Hyde

opened: 07-Apr-1957. Powell St from Market to Jackson, Jackson from Powell to Hyde. Hyde to Beach St, to off-street turntable. Southbound, Hyde to Washington, Washington to Powell.

powerhouse: Washington & Mason.

grip: Eppelsheimer bottom grip, lever-operated

gauge: 3'6"

cars: single-ended California cars.

turntables: single track.

crossings:
IntersectionCompanyStatus
Powell/CaliforniaCSCinferior
Powell/Mason Sign Powell/Mason (Route 59) dash sign. Note the hinge in the middle, allowing crews to switch from this sign to the Powell/Hyde sign. April 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.
Powell/Hyde Sign Powell/Hyde (Current route 60) dash sign. April 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.
Old Powell/Mason Sign Old Powell/Mason dash sign. Note that this sign is not hinged like the current one. Instead, this sign hung on two pegs. From the collection of Val Lupiz.
Washington/Jackson Sign Washington/Jackson (Former route 60) dash sign, on the other side of the Powell/Mason sign above. From the collection of Val Lupiz.

notes: The San Francisco Municipal Railway was the first significant muncipal transit company in the United States, opening its first electric streetcar line, the A Geary, on 28-December-1912.

San Francisco voters approved a Municipal Railway on Geary Street in 1909. The Geary Street Park & Ocean Railway was taken over by city in 1912. The last cable cars ran 12-May-1912. Here are two San Francisco Chronicle articles about the last of the Geary Street cable cars:

Muni operated no cable cars until it took over the Market Street Railway in 1944, when it inherited the former Ferries & Cliff House Powell/Mason and Washington/Jackson lines.

Muni sent several cable cars out of San Francisco to help promote the city of San Franciso. In September, 1948, car 514 went to the California State Fair. In 1949, car 524 went to the Chicago Railroad Fair. In 1950, car 524 went to Los Angeles to ride down Broadway as part of a parade for the Shriners convention.
514 in Sacramento Car 514 at the San Francisco exhibit in the California State Fair, Sacramento. Walt Vielbaum photo. All rights reserved.
524 in Los Angeles Car 524 at the Shriners Parade in Los Angles, 1949. Ray Long photo. All rights reserved.

In 1952, Muni acquired the California Street Cable Railroad's California Street, O'Farrell/Jones/Hyde, and Jones Street shuttle lines. Muni killed the shuttle on 06-Feb-1954 and the O/J/H on 15-May-1954.

Muni decided to close the Cal Cable barn at California & Hyde and consolidate all operations at Washington & Mason. Muni converted the California Street line to use the Eppelsheimer bottom grip between 29-December-1956 and 27-December-1957. Muni combined the Washington/Jackson and O'Farrell/Jones/Hyde lines into the Powell/Hyde line, which opened on 07-April-1957.

PH anniversary Val Lupiz created this image to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Powell/Hyde line. 507 was the first car to run on the new line on 07-April-1957. All rights reserved. April, 2007 Picture of the Month.

The crossing at Powell and California is controlled by a manned signal tower. Read Emiliano J Echeverria's article about the tower.

Muni assigned route numbers to its cable car lines:

  • 59 - Powell/Mason (read a 1974 Powell/Mason schedule - warning LARGE images)
  • 60 - Washington/Jackson (until 01-Sep-1956)
  • 60 - Powell/Hyde (since 07-Apr-1957)
  • 61 - California Street
  • 62 - O'Farrell/Jones/Hyde
  • 63 - Jones Street Shuttle

San Francisco's cable cars were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, as entry #66000233.

According to Muni's 2003 draft Short Range Transit Plan, the three cable car lines carried 21,500 passengers in Fiscal Year 2002. The plan contains many interesting items, including some of Muni's plans for the near future: Installing Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) Systems on the cable cars; Installing an improved Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) system in the cable car barn; Renovating the Cable Car Museum; Upgrading the terminal at Bay and Taylor by installing a new ticket booth, operator convenience station, and operator restroom; Addressing the "downturn in Cable Car performance" by improving physical training of operators, assigning dedicated inspectors, doing better strength screening of applicants, and adjusting schedules. It also lists the goals of the FY1998-FY2009 Cable Car Infrastructure Rehabilitation Program, which include: Overhauling all four turntables, and redesigning and replacing the outdoors ones in 2008-2009; Implementing more signal preemption; Replacing the computer system in the control room; Replacing track and slot rail in many locations. Thanks to Matt Lee for pointing out the report.

Roster of active SF Cable Cars

Muni's official home page.

NextBus offers live maps of Muni's cable car lines:
Powell/Mason (line 59)
Powell/Hyde (line 60)
California (line 61)

Friends

The Friends of the Cable Car Museum, the organization that runs the museum at Washington/Mason has a brand new web site. Thanks to them for including a link.


Help Wanted Ad Joe Lacey preserved this 1967 help wanted ad for cable car crew members. $3.22 an hour. Joe Lacey collection. All rights reserved.
Chinatown Sign Chinese-language sign at Powell and Jackson. January 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.
Hyde Street Hill Powell/Hyde car One climbing the Hyde Street Hill in San Francisco. Photograph courtesy of the Artcom Museum Tour. Dec, 1997 Picture of the Month.
WM truck Cable Car Division service truck parked on Mason, across from the barn. Read more about Wreckers and Service Trucks. March 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.
WM exit Car 21 waits inside the Washington and Mason barn exit on Washington. March 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.
WM exit Car 25 pauses as the conductor lifts the lever that releases the lock which is supposed to prevent cars from rolling out the door unattended. March 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.
WM Mason entrance Mason Street entrance. March 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.
Warning Sign Warning sign at the Jackson Street entrance to the Washington/Mason yard. March 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson. June, 2002 Picture of the Month.
WM Jackson entrance Washington and Mason barn Jackson Street yard entrance. March 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.
Replacement bus A bus covers the inner portion of the Powell Street lines during an outage. January 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.
Car 2 Car 2 turns from Washington to the outbound tracks on Powell during a service interruption on the inner part of the Powell Street lines. January 2002. Photo by Joe Thompson.

More Muni Pictures

California Street Cable Railroad/ More California Street Pictures

Ferries & Cliff House Railway/ More Ferries and Cliff House Pictures

Go to SF cable car lines in detail.

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Copyright 1996-2012 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.

Last updated 01-December-2012