Happy 150th Birthday Market Rail Line

The only known photo of the Market Street Railroad train was taken around 1860 at Market and Third streets. Courtesy: Market Street Railway

Last Sunday, July the 4th, was a historic day not just for our country but also for the rail line running along Market street. Did you know that the first street railway in SF was a two-cars steam train first created in 1860?

Before that, the young cities inhabitant only had the option of walking, cycling (thank God it is making a come back!), or horse riding. Omnibuses, pulled by horses, seated only 10 to 12 passengers and were prohibitively expensive ($1 per ride!).

After the steam train, in 1867, horses returned to the scene and began pulling rail cars.  By 1883, the horses were again replaced, this time by cable cars. The 1906 earthquake destroyed the former cable car system on Market which was subsequently replaced by an electric car system with four rails. The rest is more familiar history – BART, MUNI, et al.

If nothing else, it is remarkable that Market Street has had rail transit on its surface longer than any other main street in the United States. It certainly makes me proud.

Learn more from the SF Gate article that tipped me off.

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