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History in Motion

Happy Birthday, Muni - A Year of Centennials

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dec. 28, 2017, marks the 105th birthday of the San Francisco Municipal Railway, our city's public transportation provider.

On a crisp December Saturday in 1912, thousands of San Franciscans crowded onto Geary Street to behold the opening of the People's Railway, which was the nation's first publicly-owned transit system in a major city.

As we approach the close of 2017, here's a look back at that day in December and the other Muni centennials we commemorated this year.

1912 photo of opening day of SF Municipal Railway.  Links to blog post "105th Year in Review"
Opening Day of the San Francisco Municipal Railway on Geary Street and Grant Avenue in December 1912. Thousands of people turned out to see the shiny new gray and red streetcars. (SFMTA Photo Archives)

One hundred years ago in July 1917, Muni marked an important milestone for the then fledgling system – the completion of tunnel work on the Twin Peaks Tunnel. At the time, this tunnel was not only the longest street railway tunnel in North America but a crucial piece of infrastructure that provided public transit access to the largely undeveloped West Portal, Sunset and Ingleside neighborhoods.

crowd of people around SF city engineer MM O'Shaughnessy in 1917
City Engineer M.M. O'Shaughnessy and Mayor James Rolph drive a ceremonial rail spike at the western portal of the Twin Peaks Tunnel to mark the completion of the bore in summer 1917. (SFMTA Photo Archives)

In August 2017, we marked the centennial of service on the J Church, which commenced Aug. 11, 1917, to great fanfare in Dolores Park. The opening of the J line expanded Muni's rail service into the Mission District and Noe Valley. Today, the line serves an average of more than 16,000 riders a day.

  J Line streetcar on church street in 1934
A J Line streetcar passes by 17th Street on its way to Dolores Park in 1934. (SFMTA Photo Archives)

In September, Muni's bus service turned 100 years old, with the first line opening to passengers Sept. 1, 1917. To mark this centennial, we rolled out several vintage buses for Muni Heritage Weekend, including a 1950s Mack bus currently undergoing restoration.

bus and streetcar with people
Muni's first motor bus (#01) meets streetcar 101 at the end of the A-Geary streetcar line on Fulton Street and 10th Avenue in December 1917. Three months earlier, Muni started the city's first major bus service with the 1-Park route. (SFMTA Photo Archives)

We hope you enjoyed this year in review of major Muni milestones. Here's a "Happy Birthday" to Muni and to another year of providing equal access to affordable transportation for all San Franciscans.

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