Images of Rail Railways Of San Francisco By Paul C. Trimble
Images of Rail Railways Of San Francisco By Paul C. Trimble
Images of Rail Railways Of San Francisco By Paul C. Trimble
Images of Rail Railways Of San Francisco By Paul C. Trimble

Images of Rail Railways Of San Francisco By Paul C. Trimble

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Images of Rail Railways Of San Francisco By Paul C. Trimble
Images of Rail Railways Of San Francisco By Paul C. Trimble
127 Pages Softcover
1.In the Beginning
2.The New Electric Streetcars
3.The Municipal Railway
4.The United Railroads and the Market Street Railway
5.Down Market Street to the Ferries
6.Special Cars and Special Rides
7.Into Modernity

Many are the images of street railway vehicles that grace libraries, museums and private collections, including the author's. To employ a well-known adage, any of these pictures may be worth a thousand words; yet they may say very little.
A photograph is an inanimate object, merely a capture of light reflected upon a piece of glass. The picture needs the story to be complete. What was this streetcar doing? Where was it from and where was it going? And sadly, why were the streetcars abandoned if they did such a wonderful job? To a certain degree, local photographers have answered these questions through their cameras, and rail historians forever shall be grateful to them.
The streetcars and their antecedents in San Francisco existed for a variety of reasons, including the raising of real estate values, as well as providing efficient and inexpensive transportation for workers, shoppers, students, and tourists. In so doing, these railways contributed to the city so profoundly that they could never be repaid, even if the fare had been doubled or tripled. In fact, fares that were kept artificially low by franchise requirements, along with the prosperity that enabled urban dwellers to purchase automobiles, were direct factors in the railways' own demise.
From the time of San Francisco's founding in 1776 by Spanish colonists until the Gold Rush Era, the city's urban transportation problems were solved by either walking or utilizing beasts of burden over streets that were little better than dirt trails.
The introduction of the horsecar in 1862 allowed for municipal expansion since the average speed of the horsecar was double that of walking, and not everyone owned a horse. The cable car made its debut in 1873 and almost doubled the speed of a horsecar, enabling citizens to travel four times the distance within the same amount of time.
At that time, vast acreages of San Francisco real estate could be developed simply because there was adequate transportation, provided there were sufficient investors to finance the construction of a street railway line. An 1887 study showed that real estate values within 200 feet of a cable car line jumped anywhere from 14 percent to 40 percent a year after commencement of service. That in itself was an incentive to invest in an urban railway.
The fact that the electric railway industry in the United States was a money loser after the year 1926 does not diminish the job the American streetcar services did-and did well. Why these mostly privately owned street railways lost money and were, for the most part, eventually abandoned is the subject for another book.
T t may be hard to believe now, but San Francisco was i 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-me 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.
Here, rail historian Paul C. Trimble, author of Interurban Railways of the Bay Area and The Platform Men, draws from his extensive collection of vintage photographs to tell this unique story. Along the way, Trimble beautifully illustrates the symbiotic bond between San Francisco's early railways and the riders and communities they served.

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