Wednesday, November 23, 2011

San Francisco Railway Museum

I've lived in San Francisco for 4 years, but have never rode on one of San Francisco's historic streetcars. I've rode on plenty of cable cars, but never the cute streetcar that runs the length of Market Street. So last Saturday, John and I headed out on a mission to ride the streetcar and it was fabulous. We hopped on the F line car at Van Ness and Market. We didn't take the first one because it was packed with tourists and I wanted my ride to be perfect. So we waited a few more minutes for a nice empty street car with only two passengers, one of which was a total Asian cougar with yellow thigh-high patent leather boots. I knew we picked the right car for my first time when I saw her.

The streetcar ride is a completely different experience than the cable car. It's not as loud and much more comfortable. The inside of the cars have the "history of streetcars" plastered on the inside which makes the ride not only entertaining but educational. Plus once you hop on, you feel like you've been magically transported back to the turn of the century.

We took the car all the way to the end at the Embarcadero and magically at that same spot is the San Francisco Railway Museum. The museum serves as a visitor center that tells the history of streetcars and cable cars and how they are used today in San Francisco. The museum is small but very entertaining. We spent about a half-hour looking at all the historic pictures, watching a historic film of a streetcar on Market street days before the big 1906 earthquake, and playing conductor on the full-size replica streetcar. We also managed to buy a streetcar magnet. A new treasure.

Next time you are looking for something random to do in the city or want to learn a bit of history stop by the San Francisco Railway Museum on Steuart across from the Ferry Building. It's best to pretend you are a tourist so that the docent will give you his entertaining spiel on the history of the streetcar.

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