Monday, October 16, 2006

Streetcars in San Francisco

While San Francisco is most famous for the cable cars that go up and down Nob Hill, we are becoming equally well known for our fleet of historic streetcars. Known as the F Line, these cars from around the country and the globe run from the Castro District (Castro and Market Streets) to Fisherman's Wharf (Taylor and Jefferson Streets) via Market Street and the Embarcadero.

Now you can learn about the history of streetcars in San Francisco and our historic fleet by visiting the new San Francisco Railway Museum at the Steuart Street streetcar stop (77 Steuart Street, between Market and Mission Streets). Operated by the non-profit Market Street Railway, the inaugural exhibit is "Vehicles of Recovery: How San Francisco├é’s Street Railways Led the City├é’s Response to the 1906 Earthquake and Fire." The museum also contains streetcar artifacts, videos on San Francisco's street railway systems, and a gift shop. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Admission is free; although, donations are appreciated.

The Market Street Railway is the City's nonprofit partner that does much of the restoration work on the historic streetcars. In addition, the group advocates for the expansion of the streetcar system. In the near future, streetcars may run directly from the CalTrain Terminal and AT&T Park to Fisherman's Wharf. Longer term plans call for expanding the streetcar line from Fisherman's Wharf through the Fort Mason tunnel to lower Fort Mason. You can learn more about this wonderful organization by visiting their website at

If you would like to take a private San Francisco tour that includes a stop at the San Francisco Railway Museum, call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Diego Rivera Murals in San Francisco

The great Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera, painted his first commissioned mural outside of Mexico in San Francisco starting in 1930. "Allegory of California" was completed in 1931 and is located in The City Club of San Francisco, 155 Sansome Street, 10th Floor. The mural is usually open to the public from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, if there are no events scheduled.

Shortly after completing "Allegory of California," Rivera began work on "The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of A City." This mural is located in the Diego Rivera Gallery of the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut Street (between Leavenworth and Jones). The most accessible of the three Rivera murals in San Francisco; the gallery is open daily from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. and is located just two blocks from the bottom of the "Crookedest Street in the World" (Lombard Street).

Perhaps the most impressive of the three murals painted by Rivera is "Pan American Unity." This mural is "about the unity of the North and the South on this continent," according to Rivera. Originally painted in 1940 at the Golden Gate International Exposition, the mural is now housed in the Diego Rivera Theatre at San Francisco City College. Hours to visit the mural vary from sememster to semester. You can check the mural's website,, for current hours. A guided tour of the mural can be arranged by calling (415) 452-5201.

Admission to all three murals is free.

If you would like to take a private San Francisco tour that includes stops at one or more of these murals, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Murals of Balmy Alley

One of my favorite spots to take people when I am doing my More of San Francisco or A Day in the City Tour is Balmy Alley. This small street is the birthplace of San Francisco's contemporary mural movement.

Murals have been a part of Mexican culture since the early twentieth century. In 1971, local muralists began creating beautiful paintings on the fences and garages of Balmy Alley. Many of the murals have political themes. The styles range from very traditional to cartoonish. Today there are an estimated 600 murals throughout San Francisco with many located in the Mission District, home to many of San Francisco's Hispanics.

Balmy Alley runs parallel to Treat and Harrison Streets between 24th and 25th Streets. Precita Eyes Visitors Center at 2981 24th Street is near the alley and has information on San Francisco's murals. They also sponsor mural tours, some of which include walks through Balmy Alley. You may call the center at (415) 285-2287 for more information.

If you visit Balmy Alley, stop in at one of the nearby restaurants for lunch. Roosevelt Tamale Parlor, 2817 24th Street (at Bryant) and St. Francis Fountain, 2801 24th Street (at York) are good bets.

If you would like to take a San Francisco tour that includes visits to Balmy Alley and other mural sites, please call me at (866) 326-4237 or e-mail me by clicking here.