One of the coolest gifts I’ve ever received was a copy of “The People’s Railway” by Anthony Perles a few months ago from “Mason Powell.” This is not always an easy book to find, especially one in such nice condition, so to finally own a copy, much less have one that only has a few dings from shipping (via a bookstore in Georgia!) is nice.
Perles’ book covers Muni from its inception up until the LRV era and slightly beyond. It’s particularly interesting because it isn’t just a book about trolley cars and nostalgia – there’s some detailed coverage about the politics surrounding Muni and the many changes it went through over the years, and its interactions with the old Market Street Railway, United Railroads, etc.
It’s also useful to read as we discuss things like the Central Subway, the bazillion dollar project that has the unquestioned support of certain politicians and politicos, regardless of any facts that suggest there may be more cost effective ways to serve Chinatown.
How, you ask? Well there’s a particularly fascinating read on the creation of the original F-line (not to be confused with our awesome F-Line of today), which served Stockton Street, and went through the tunnel (built for the line) all the way to Chestnut and Scott for the Exposition.
In other words, we had a line there, we ripped it out, and are now rebuilding a half-assed part of it for a bazillion dollars and it won’t serve nearly as many people as a Geary underground would, etc. etc. etc.
I suppose in 50 years we’ll be blowing up the Central Subway for another bazillion dollar rail project. That is, if dollars are even used anymore.
Anyway, the book is worth reading sometime, you can find copies in the library that you can examine on the premises. Check it out!