Life in Colour

To find out more about this year’s photo challenge here on Travel Words, please read this post.

This week I am going to look at San Francisco Streetcars. Red ones naturally.

Birmingham, Alabama, PCC Car, 1077, built in 1947. This car’s exterior commemorates Birmingham, Alabama, which operated PCC streetcars from 1947 to 1953. When streetcars were a new technology, around the turn of the 20th Century, it was common for systems to be owned by the local electric utility.

Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co. PCC Car, 1007, built in 1948. This car commemorates Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Co. (PST)–the ‘Red Arrow’ lines serving Philly’s western suburbs–which ran interurban cars with some PCC features from 1949 to 1982.

If you want to learn more about San Francisco’s historic streetcars and cable cars then please visit the Market Street Railway Museum.

Do you have any red transportation?

Flashback Friday #30

Back in 2015 I used to take part regularly in a monthly challenge hosted by Dawn from ‘The Day After’ who invited participants to post pictures of any windows that  they find curious, inviting, photogenic, or in some way tell a story.

Painted Ladies of San Francisco

The “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco sounds quite scandalous, but is actually a nickname for the city’s Victorian and Edwardian mansions with their genteel pastel hues and feminine façades, lacy wooden mantles and perfectly pitched roofs.

Postcard Row

One of the most photographed vistas is from Alamo Square on the corner of Hays and Steiner where you get a background of the modern city that contrasts with these lovely ladies. It is sometimes known as “Postcard Row.” The houses were built between 1892 and 1896 by developer Matthew Kavanaugh, who lived next door in the 1892 mansion at 722 Steiner Street.  The definition of a painted lady is a Victorian with three or more paint colours. So, even though the seven on Steiner Street are the most famous — there are several other painted ladies in the neighbourhood to enjoy.


Explore the streets, parks and vistas around Scott Street, McAllister, Haight Street, Steiner and Pierce that tell the story of a Victorian era and discover more beautiful mansions, but be warned, it is very hilly around here so it can be quite a strenuous walk. Alamo square is a great place to sit and rest and admire the view after your walk around the neighbourhood.

I walked about 10 blocks from the Misión San Francisco de Asís on 16th Street which is some distance away, through Duboce Park. You can of course take public transport to Alamo Square, but then you’d miss an awful lot of this wonderful architecture. And don’t forget to look up!


This post is a contribution to Fandango’s Flashback Friday. Have you got a post you wrote in the past on this particular day? The world might be glad to see it – either for the first time – or again if they’re long-time loyal readers.

Life in Colour

To find out more about this year’s photo challenge here on Travel Words, please read this post.

We are back in San Francisco this week with a another look at the Historic Streetcars, this time in blue.

San Francisco Municipal Railway (1940s), No.130, built in 1914, is currently awaiting restoration after 102 years of service with the original wiring. Car No. 130 was among the the last ‘Iron Monsters’ to leave passenger service. In 1958. Muni shop foreman Charlie Smallwood saved it from the scrap heap by hiding it in the back of Geneva carhouse while its mates met their fates.

Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company, No.1060, built in 1947. This streetcar is an actual Philadelphia streetcar painted in that city’s original PCC livery, dating from 1938, of silver with cream window area and electric blue striping. The similarity to the packaging of Kraft’s famous ‘Philadelphia Cream Cheese’ did not go unnoticed, providing the car a nickname — the Cream Cheese Car.

San Francisco Municipal Railway (1940s), No.1010, built 1948. This car is painted in tribute to the ‘Magic Carpets’, as Muni’s first five modern-design streetcars were known.

If you want to learn more about San Francisco’s historic streetcars and cable cars then please visit the Market Street Railway Museum.

Can you find any blue transport?

Flashback Friday #13

The City of Love: How I left my heart in San Francisco

(This is a long post about my love affair with San Francisco which started in 1965)

San Francisco first hit my radar way back in 1965 when “California Dreamin’ ” by the Mamas and the Papas hit the British charts. Knowing nothing about LA or indeed California, anywhere that offered warmth in winter seemed like a good place to be to me. By the time Scott McKenzie was singing “San Francisco (be sure to wear some flowers in your hair)” a hit in the spring of 1967, I was hooked. This was one USA state I had to visit. Haight-Ashbury frequently featured on the television with its flower-power, incense-burning, acid-dropping, tie-dye-wearing, peace-and-love-vibe hippies during the summer of love (1967) and I fell in love with the whole enchilada. As the ‘60s turned into the ‘70s I too became an incense burning, peace-loving hippy myself, though it was an awful lot more years before I would get to San Fran.

The next time the city nudged its way into my life was in 1972 when I was working for a brief spell in Zürich as an au pair and came into contact with a group of Americans from California who were over in Europe to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam War. Falling in love with a gentle, flute-playing, blonde haired surfer from San Francisco made me yearn to visit that golden state again. All too soon he took off for India and I returned home to the UK, alone. The years passed and the USA was no longer on my ‘must see’ list and San Francisco faded from my dreams. The summer of love was long past… Continue reading Flashback Friday #13

Life in Colour

To find out more about this year’s photo challenge here on Travel Words, please read this post.

This month we will be looking for Green. Green signals new life in spring, fresh green leaves, the shoots of new bulbs emerging from the soil. It is a cool and soothing colour, bringing us moisture and shade. But there is more to green than the colour of nature. This week I am going to look at San Francisco Streetcars. Green ones naturally.

Melbourne (Australia) 496, built in 1928. The famed W-class trams dominated Melbourne’s transit system, with a layout that reversed San Francisco’s ‘California’ design, by putting closed sections at both ends, with the lowered section for boarding and alighting placed in the middle.

Los Angeles Transit Lines 1080, built in 1946. This car is painted in the livery of Los Angeles Transit Lines (LATL), which operated PCC streetcars after World War II

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1062, built in 1948. The “Steel City”, as Pittsburgh has long been called, was also one of the great PCC streetcar cities as well. It operated the world’s first PCC carrying passengers, in August 1936. Car No. 1062 now honours Pittsburgh’s extensive PCC operation, after spending its first 21 years in Muni service painted in tribute to Louisville, Kentucky, a city that bought, but never operated, PCCs after World War II.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1055, built in 1948. The ‘City of Brotherly Love’ first ran PCC streetcars in 1938. This car, numbered 2122 in Philly (now Muni No. 1055), was delivered in 1948 and wore this livery of green, cream, and red from 1955 to 1968.

St. Louis Public Service Company 1050, built in 1948. Here it is painted in its original  Muni green and cream “Wings” livery. In 2016 it was decided to honour St. Louis by repainting Car No. 1050 in SLPS livery (red and cream).

Chicago, Illinois 1058, built 1948. This streetcar is painted to honour Chicago, which ran PCC streetcars from 1936 to 1958. Chicago had the largest PCC fleet ever purchased new by one city–683 cars. At 50′ 5″ they were the longest single-end PCCs ever built, and boasted three sets of doors to swallow crowds quickly.

Milan, Italy (1930s 1970s) 1818, built 1928. The second most common type of streetcar in Muni’s historic fleet is an American classic with an Italian accent. This type of car is named for Cleveland street railway commissioner Peter Witt, who designed it for his Ohio city around 1915.

If you want to learn more about San Francisco’s historic streetcars and cable cars then please visit the Market Street Railway Museum.

It’s easy to find shades of green in nature, but what else can you discover?