Restored, Re-Dedicated Harvey Milk Streetcar Returns To The Streets

Photos: David-Elijah Nahmod/Hoodine
By David-Elijah Nahmod - Published on March 16, 2017.

Harvey Milk wasn't just the first openly gay supervisor in San Francisco history, say representatives of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. He was also the first supervisor to use a Fast Pass.

During a ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday morning to rededicate a fully restored and refurbished car #1051 to the late supervisor—which was first dedicated to and named after Supervisor Milk in 2008—several agency representatives recalled that the former District 8 supervisor rode the F-Market streetcar from Castro and Market streets to Civic Center every day during his one year in office. (Milk and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated at City Hall in November 1978.)

The F-Market makes daily runs from Jane Warner Plaza to Pier 39 along Market Street and the Embarcadero. The popular Muni line is comprised of historic streetcars, most of which have been in use since the 1940s, though the line hosts a few older cars as well. Car #1051 was returned to service after the ceremony at Jane Warner Plaza.

"It's so lovely to be here," said District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who, like Milk, is openly gay. "These refurbished street cars have done so much to bring people to the Castro—this is glorious!"

Sheehy noted that many businesses in the Castro benefit from the F-Market line, as many tourists ride the historic vehicles into the neighborhood.

SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin added that Muni has one of the most diverse transit fleets in the country. In addition to the historic streetcars, Muni offers traditional bus and underground subway service, as well as San Francisco's legendary cable cars.

Reiskin was also one of several speakers at the ribbon cutting who pointed out that car #1051 has been in use for 69 years. "We should all look so good when we reach our 69th birthday," he said. "Car 1051 honors the history of San Francisco. We're insuring that it remains in use for another generation."

Placards within the car discuss Harvey Milk's life and legacy.

Daniel Bergerac, president of the Castro Merchant's Association, called the F-Market a "lifeline" for the Castro. "The line lets people come to the Castro in a unique way," he said, also mentioning that people brought to the neighborhood on the F-Market often spend their money with local businesses.

Bergerac also recalled his first visit to the city as a child, when he rode a streetcar just like the Harvey Milk. "Seeing this car floods me with memories," he said. 

After the brief ribbon cutting ceremony, people were invited to board and inspect the spotless streetcar. Frames inside the car, once reserved for paid advertisements, now hold placards telling the story of Harvey Milk's life and legacy.

Andrea Aiello, executive director of the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District, said she was delighted by the restoration. "Being able to ride up to the Castro in the Harvey Milk is an educational experience. We need to keep the F line going."

Muni operator Kevin Sheridan then took to the driver's seat and prepared to take the Harvey Milk out for it's inaugural run.

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