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On Track: A Field Guide to San Francisco's Historic Streetcars & Cable Cars

Cliffhouse DVD

NEW! This is the definitive guide to San Francisco's historic streetcars and cable cars. Written by Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher, this 128-page guide tells you the story of each vintage vehicle, gives you riding tips, lists the historic sites you'll pass on each route, and shares insider secrets for great walks that link to your historic ride.

It includes a concise history of transit in San Francisco and the story of how vintage streetcar service came to be, and grew in popularity. There's even a trainspotter's guide to let you record the vintage vehicles you ride or see.

At 4.5" by 9", it slips right in your pocket, so it will always be at the ready as you ride or watch the cavalcade of cable cars and streetcars in the City.

It's full color and there are great graphics of every car, and loads of current and historic photos as well.

All proceeds from this great guidebook support Market Street Railway.


The Cliffhouse and Sutro Heights DVD

Cliffhouse DVD

NEW! The historic Cliff House stands perched on a headland atop the cliffs on the northwestern edge of San Francisco, California. Originally built in 1863, it is now a key part of the Sutro Historic District. That district, now a park, included the lavish gardens and structures of Sutro Heights and the home of Adolph Sutro, entrepreneur, real estate developer, and populist mayor of San Francisco. The ruins just north of the Cliff House housed the world-class swimming pool and museum complex called Sutro Baths. A major amusement park, San Francisco's Playland at the Beach, once spilled over more than five city blocks south, across from Ocean Beach. The Cliff House has been rebuilt and remodeled many times through its century-and-a-half of operation. This full-length documentary film tells the story of the Cliff House, Sutro Heights, and the attractions surrounding them, both a nostalgic look back and overview of the area today.

Run Time 84 minutes, DVD includes the short: "A Trip to the Cliff House," by Mark Twain


Remembering Playland at the Beach DVD

Playland DVD

NEW! A full length documentary about San Francisco's famous 10-acre seaside amusement park, Playland at the Beach. Located next to Ocean Beach, it was torn down in 1972 to make way for a condominium development. Gone now for more than 3 decades, it remains one of the city's lost treasures. Go back in time to see Laffing Sal, the Fun House, the Carousel, the Big Dipper, the Diving Bell, Dark Mystery, Limbo, Fun-tier Town, and much, much more, all through the eyes of the people who were there. Packed full of historical photos and footage, a treat for any amusement park fan. The first and only documentary ever made about Playland.

DVD Includes 3 short subjects on Playland at the Beach.


Sutro's The Palace at Lands End

Sutros DVD

NEW! A full length documentary film about San Francisco's privately owned swimming, ice skating and museum complex built in the late 19th century. Once the world's largest swimming pool establishment, the building burnt down in 1966. The ruins remain today. Journey back in time to revisit Sutro Baths when it was in full operation. See: The Seven Pools, Sutro Railway, Merry Way, Sutro's Cliff House, Ice Skating Rink, Egyptian Mummy Museum, Tom Thumb Exhibit, Musee Mecanique, Torture Museum, Lord's Last Supper, Ito, Giggling Ghost, 1963 & 1966 Fires, Sutro Ruins, and much, much more. A nostalgic trip back in time told by historians and the people that were there.

Through interviews, film footage, and hundreds of photographs, this film not only allows us to relearn and finally understand Sutro Baths' history, but also to feel and experience it. 84 minutes in length.


Exclusive Narrated 1906 Trip Down Market Street


Just days before Earthquake and Fire destroyed much of the West's greatest city, pioneer filmmakers the Miles Brothers bolted a hand-cranked camera to the front of a cable car and rolled down San Francisco's Market Street, unknowingly filming the end of an era. The story of this miraculous 1906 film has been told on "60 Minutes." One of the experts Morley Safer interviewed is Market Street Railway President Rick Laubscher, a fourth generation San Franciscan and local historian. Rick applied all his expertise to create this fully narrated version of the fabled 1906 "Trip Down Market Street, using the best available restoration of this historic film by the Prelinger Archives, which reveals myriad visual details unseen until now. Our narrated version provides the social, political, and transportation context for everything you see in this remarkable 12 minute trip from Eighth Street to the Ferry Building. Available exclusively from us here online, or at our San Francisco Railway Museum, where you can also watch the film on our audio-visual display. Here's a preview of the DVD that we put on YouTube. Region 1 encoding, playable in North America.

Trip Down Market Street

San Francisco Municipal Railway Scrapbook DVD


Look back in time to the Muni" after WWII to the 1980s. See the days when the "Iron Monsters" were the rule on Market Street and watch the Muni PCC cars of long ago when they were run as double-ended cars and the newer single-ended fleet as it expanded and replaced the Iron Monsters by the late 1950s. We bring the J, K, L, N & M lines from a long-lost era.

We bring examples of the long-forgotten Market Street Railway streetcars after the Muni took over those lines after WWII. Early examples of the A, B, K and L type streetcars abound in this presentation when they ruled Market Street and all the outbound lines. Don't miss the old B, C, D, F and H lines and how Market Street looked generations ago. Learn the Muni's history over the years up to the BART subway project and more! See firsthand the effects of the Market Street Subway construction and all the changes to the West Portal Tunnel, the Phelan Loop of earlier times and the Transbay Transit Terminal..

Visit the old Transbay Transit Terminal operations in the 1950s to the 1970s. learn How the Eastbay electric trains of the Key System, and the SP IER, used the Bay Bridge to the San Francisco Transbay Transit Terminal. Hear the city and rail sounds to better appreciate the way San Francisco was over the decades. This video has narration to bring a better understanding of the way things were and how they were shaped into the present day. Review the expansion of the PCC fleet and see these cars in the 1950s from other cities before they were bought by the Muni. Examples are from cities that sold PCC cars to the Muni such as St. Louis and Toronto as well as those that almost became Muni cars. The early beginnings of the Historic Streetcar fleet will bring a wealth of visual surprises..

When the LRVs came to the Muni we show the sister LRVs in Boston and review the similarities, differences and the startup problems. See cable cars of the California Street Railway long ago and the Muni and from post-WWII to the early 1980s in great color.

San Francisco Municipal Railway Scrapbook DVD

San Francisco's Municipal Railway: Muni


This book chronicles the first century of America's first big city publicly owned transit system with a great array of photographs, many never before published, from a variety of sources. The commentary, expressed largely through incisive photo captions, is first rate, as you would expect given the deep expertise and passion of the authors: Market Street Railway board member Walt Vielbaum; Grant Ute, founder of San Francisco Railway Archives; historian Bob Townley; the late Philip Hoffman, Market Street Railway historian and board member; and the late Cam Beach, SFMTA board member and former Market Street Railway vice president. The authors are donating all their proceeds to Market Street Railway in support of our historic preservation efforts.


California Trolleys Vol 2 - In Color: San Francisco

By Market Street Railway Member, Donald V. Jewell

California Trolleys Vol 2

A new book by Market Street Railway Member, Don Jewell. This beautifully illustrated hardcover book details over 100 years of trolleys in San Francisco. With hundreds for full color photographs and detailed information, the high quality glossy paper makes you feel like you are back in time. But this book also includes up to date trolleys and lightrail vehicles currently in service in San Francisco and is current up to 2013!


San Francisco Then and Now


There's no denying the charm of San Francisco, a city perched on rolling hills, where "little cable cars climb half-way to the stars." With dramatic vistas at every turn, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Bay to the east, its cityscape is like no other place on Earth. Discover the "City by the Bay" in this all-new edition of San Francisco Then and Now. Filled with amazing then-and-now photographs, some previously unpublished.

San Francisco's Lost Landmarks


With long-forgotten stories and evocative photographs, this collection showcases the once-familiar sites that have faded into dim memories and hazy legends. Not just a list of places, facts, and dates, this pictorial history shows why San Francisco has been a legendary travel destination and one of the world's premier places to live and work for more than 150 years.

Women and the Everyday City


Women and the Everyday City explores the lives of women in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Working at the nexus of urban history, architectural history, and cultural geography, Jessica Ellen Sewell offers a revealing portrait of both a major American city during its early years and the women who shaped it and the country for generations to come.

Historic San Francisco


No American city has a more colorful history than San Francisco. In this unique book, author Rand Richards not only provides a vivid narrative of this special city from its very beginnings all the way through the modern era, but also tells where to find the historic buildings, sites, museums, and artifacts that make that history come alive. Illustrated with over 70 photographs, maps, and engravings, Historic San Francisco also has capsule biographies of ten San Franciscans, and historical walking tours of downtown San Francisco, Chinatown, Nob Hill, and Haight-Ashbury.

For anyone interested in San Francisco and its past, for residents and visitors alike this is an indispensable book.

Historic Walks In San Francisco


Historic Walks in San Francisco will take you back in time as you follow 18 self-guided walks down city streets. Besides vivid stories about the sites and buildings along the way and anecdotes about the colorful characters associated with them, you will read tales about such well-known figures as Jack London, Mark Twain, Ulysses S. Grant, the Emperor Norton, Lenny Bruce, and Janis Joplin, all of whom played roles in San Francisco's vibrant history. Illustrated with easy-to-follow maps and dozens of historic photographs, many of them rarely seen, the book covers more than 400 locations in 18 walks each lasting two hours or less.

Brimming with insight and the odd fact, laced with humor and drama, Historic Walks in San Francisco sheds new light on the history of one of America's most renowned cities.

San Francisco Giants

Baseball Season is in Full Swing

San Francisco Giants

In 1958, San Francisco welcomed its first major league baseball team when the Giants left New York and journeyed across the country to the Bay Area. Steeped in tradition, the orange-and-black team has captivated fans for decades with rosters including Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Will Clark, Barry Bonds, and Tim Lincecum. This book provides a look into the team's history, highlighting the players and other notables who were instrumental in shaping the Giants organization.

San Francisco Seals

Baseball Season is in Full Swing

San Francisco Seals

For more than half a century, San Francisco Seals baseball was a fertile source of future major league players, with a legacy firmly grounded in the annals of Pacific Coast League baseball. Paul and Lloyd Waner, Ping Bodie, Earl Averill, William Kamm, Ferris Fain, Harry Heilmann, Smead Jolley, "Lefty" O'Doul, Frankie Crosetti, the DiMaggio brothers (Joe, Vince, and Dom), Larry Jansen, and others all launched their careers as Seals. From 1903 to 1957, the Seals were the toast of the town, offering tight pennant races and intense games with the Oakland Oaks' "while playing at Recreation Park and Seals Stadium. In almost 6 decades, the Seals won 11 pennants and 4 Governor's Cups. They survived the earthquake and fire of 1906, the Great Depression, and two world wars. Never forgotten will be Smead Jolley, who in 1928 had what many consider the best all-around season in PCL history by hitting .404 and winning the Triple Crown; Gus Suhr's record-breaking 51 homeruns in 1929; Joe DiMaggio's 61-game hitting streak during his 1933 rookie season; and pitcher Bob Joyce's 31 victories and 35 complete games in 1945.

1906 San Francisco Earthquake


The Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 is an unparalleled disaster in the history of San Francisco. More than 4.5 square miles of San Francisco burned and crumbled into a windswept desert of desolation. We will see this scene from behind the camera, covering before the earthquake through the fire and into the rebuilding of the city. The waterfront in the east to Golden Gate Park in the west and the marina in the north to Mission District in the south will be viewed. City hall and along Market Street through the center of the city will be covered. Stories from survivors and new information, like doctored photographs, will be included. Thirty years of research will be merged to give you an accurate account.

San Francisco's California Street Cable Cars

California Street Cable Cars

San Francisco's internationally recognized cable cars are the symbol of the individual character of a great city. The California Street cable car line is one of only three remaining lines in the city. The California Street Railway, or Cal Cable, was developed and opened by Leland Stanford, one of the builders of the transcontinental railroad and later founder of Stanford University. Indeed, the iconic line, intimately connected with some of the West's pioneer businessmen, was sold, expanded, and reached its peak mileage just after 1890, only to be destroyed in the great earthquake and fire of 1906. As resilient as the city it served, Cal Cable was rebuilt and lasted as an independent business longer than any other private San Francisco transit operation. Cut down to its present form in 1954, that remnant and its double-ended cars survive as an integral part of today's cable car system.

Railways of San Francisco

Railways of San Francisco

It may be hard to believe now, but San Francisco was once dominated by railways. Before private cars crowded this hemmed-in city, rail was the only way to get around the challenging terrain, and the rail industry rose to the task with many innovative systems. Some of these were herculean, with massive bores through rocky hills, or elaborate cable and counterweight systems to handle steep inclines. Others were simpler, horse-drawn affairs that took passengers from the downtown and waterfront areas to outlying districts. The distinct flavor of San Francisco's neighborhoods owes much to the early rails, as these cars enabled residents to form their own enclaves and still interact with the commercial heart of the city. Some rail systems presaged today's commuter lifestyle-one even ran all the way down Mission Street to far-off San Mateo. Only a few of the many rail systems that once served this city remain.

San Francisco's Market Street Railway

Market Street Railway

The Market Street Railway Company thrived in an age when rails ruled San Francisco. Spanning the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and the boom times of World War II, it had a long and legendary lifetime that is deeply ingrained in the city's Franchise competition and city regulations undid MSRy, and its assets were absorbed into MUNI in 1944. However, the name lives on as the nonprofit Market Street Railway organization, dedicated to preserving the history of this company and also to retrofitting early streetcars from across the globe, putting them back in service on Market Street.

Ferries of San Francisco Bay

Ferries of San Francisco

Decades before San Francisco Bay was crisscrossed by bridges, an extensive network of ferries plied these green waters, moving passengers, vehicles, and freight between San Francisco, Alameda, Marin, Solano, Sonoma, and Contra Costa Counties. Very few of the ferries survive today, but at one time, elegant and sturdy vessels like the Santa Clara, Sacramento, Encinal, Eureka, Oakland, and Tamalpais ruled the waves and supported the critical commerce of this region. From the early days of single-enders, double-enders, stern-wheelers, and side-wheelers burning coal and crude oil, to more modern designs of diesel-powered craft, these vessels have long been an important link in Bay Area transport, along with their railway connections. Equipped with up to four decks, the ferries' cargoes included commuters, livestock, automobiles, mail, convicts, express packages, and even entire railroad trains.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco California

On January 30, 1847, the small harbor village of Yerba Buena was rechristened "San Francisco." As the Gold Rush quickly propelled the population to over 50,000, fortunes made in the silver Comstock lode and the railroad transformed the area into the financial and cultural center of the West. Captured here in over 200 vintage images are the life and times of the city's earliest residents and their livelihoods. Spanning the mid-1800s through the early decades of the 20th century, this book offers a visual account of early life in San Francisco, from family outings at Golden Gate Park, to the images of San Franciscans rebuilding their city after the devastating Earthquake and Fire of 1906. Also pictured are the joyous occasions, including the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915, the openings of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges, and the 1939 World's Fair. Early views of the city's landmarks capture the magic of the Bay area, such as the Ferry Depot, Nob Hill, turn of the century Chinatown, and Fisherman's Wharf.

San Francisco Postcard History Series

San Francisco Postcard History Series

The golden age of postcards coincided with several momentous events in San Francisco history, including a major earthquake and fire destroying over one third of the city, rapid reconstruction, strikes, political upheaval, parades, festivals, and a world's fair. From World War I through World War II, jazz-age San Francisco experienced a building boom of houses, skyscrapers, and engineering marvels such as the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge, creating a marvelous Bay Area landscape documented on thousands of ubiquitous, inexpensive picture postcards popular with both visiting tourists and local residents.

The Key System: San Francisco and The Eastshore Empire

The Key System

It is difficult now to imagine San Francisco Bay without bridges, but not too long ago, a complex system of ferries and trains helped span the waters in an elegant way. The Key System was a huge portion of this network; it was part of businessman's fierce competitor, then later an ally, before it was vanquished. Thousands of commuters rode the system for years, until a ridership decline eventually doomed the Key when bridges finally crisscrossed the bay.

Alameda by Rail

Alameda By Rail

Across the great bay from San Francisco, the city of Alameda evolved into an island hometown of fine Victorian and Craftsman architecture and a port containing a naval air station, shipbuilding center, and the winter home of the long-gone Alaska Packers fleet of ships. But Alameda also was a busy railroad town. In 1864, a passenger railroad with a ferry connection created a commute to San Francisco. In 1869, the city became the first Bay Area terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad. Alameda became an island because a railroad allowed construction crews to dig a tidal canal, separating it from Oakland in 1902. Later generations rode steam, then electric, trains to a grand ferry pier where ornate watercraft guided them the 20 minutes to San Francisco. An auto tube, and later the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, hastened the demise of ferry, then rail, operations before World War II.

Caltrain and the Peninsula Commute Service

Caltrain and the Peninsula Commute Service

The rail line now called Caltrain was started in the 1860s to create a faster alternative to stagecoaches and ships between the key cities of San Francisco and San Jose. Operated by Southern Pacific for many years, the Peninsula Commute Service is the oldest continuously operating passenger railroad in the West and boasts seven depots in the National Register of Historic Places. This indomitable iron horse has filled a vital transportation role, from evacuating San Franciscans during the 1906 earthquake to getting commuters to work. With the dawn of the 21st century, Caltrain reinvented itself yet again with its innovative Baby Bullet express trains.

San Francisco's Interurban to San Mateo

San Francisco's Interurban to San Mateo

It's strange to think that an electric commuter rail line rivaling BART in efficiency, speed, and comfort ran over 100 years ago between San Francisco and San Mateo, but run it did. The 40 Line, or San Mateo Interurban, began in 1892 with an initial segment operating between Market and Steuart Streets out to the county limits on San Jose Avenue. Three years later, the line reached Baden in present-day South San Francisco, and by 1903 service was opened all the way to downtown San Mateo. During the line's Mission Street, El Camino Real, and Caltrain, the San Mateo Interurban carried over four million passengers a year along its main and spur lines until 1949, when the system was shut down amidst much fanfare.

Pacific Electric Red Cars

Pacific Electric Red Cars

Of the rail lines created at the turn of the 20th century, in order to build interurban links through Southern California communities around metropolitan Los Angeles, the Pacific Electric grew to be the most prominent of all. The Pacific Electric Railway is synonymous with Henry Edwards Huntington, the capitalist with many decades of railroad experience, who formed the company and expanded it as principal owner for nearly its first decade. Huntington sold his PE holdings to the giant Southern Pacific Railroad in 1910, and the following year the SP absorbed nearly every electric line in the four county area around Los Angeles in the "Great Merger" into a "new" Pacific Electric. Founded in 1901 and terminated in 1965, Pacific Electric was known as the "World's Great Interurban."

Ocean Shore Railroad

Pacific Electric Red Cars

With one of the world's most scenic backdrops as a brilliant seascape for passengers, the Ocean Shore Railroad skirted northern California's coastline to service communities south of San Francisco for the first two decades of the 20th century. As impressive as it was idealistic, the line was held prisoner by natural forces that eventually took too much of a toll to keep its striking route churning. Today's Highway 1 traces the passage once paved with tracks, and points to the few remnants of one of California's most well-known excursion lines.

Daily Public Transit Ridership: The Inside Scoop

Daily Public Transit Ridership: The Inside Scoop

Author, former San Francisco Raiwlay Museum employee, and Market Street Railway Member, Peter Felton's book Daily Public Transit Ridership: The Inside Scoop offers a unique insight into San Francisco's public transit system. Picking up from where other San Francisco public transit historians left off, Peter Felton's Daily Public Transit Ridership: The Inside Scoop gives readers an acute internal perspective as to the routine external operations of the late 20th-early 21st Century-era San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (or "Muni" as it is more commonly nicknamed). Ranging from vehicular characteristics to urban development above and below ground level, Felton provides intricate details into the life and times of the "average Joe" public transit rider traveling around the City of San Francisco by bus or subway train. With a majority of the information taken strictly from a young lifetime of permanent public custom, Felton colorfully outlines the awe and wonder arising from riding this means of public service day-in-and-day-out, acknowledging realities and comparing-contrasting past, present, and future transit modalities drawn completely from personal experience and observation-yet portrayed entirely on a "general basis."p>