Calling All Volunteers: Earth Day With a Class 1 Streetcar!

Earth Day in San Diego is always a big deal— we should all be concerned with our environment and carbon footprint, but when you live in a city surrounded by natural beauty the imperative of “being green” becomes all the more apparent. On Sunday, April 22nd, America’s Finest City celebrates environmentalism with the 23rd Annual Earth Fair in Balboa Park! We’ll be there from 10am ’til 5pm with Class 1 streetcar #138 and we hope you’ll come down to a look at the past and, if we have our way, future of San Diego’s energy efficient public transportation. There will be lots of great exhibitors to check out, so be sure to come down, have fun, and learn how we can all do our part to make our world a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable place.

Considering that there will be an estimated influx of 60,000 attendees during this event (wow!), we’re also hoping we can round up a couple volunteers to help us out on Sunday. If you have some time to contribute, please send us an e-mail at contact@sdstreetcars.org or give us a call at (619) 752-0151… we’d love to have you on board!

Mr. Chaffee Goes to Tampa

San Diego Historic Streetcars, Inc. Board President Christian Chaffee and TECO Streetcar #163

Back on February 10th, San Diego Historic Streetcars, Inc. president Christian Chaffee took a trip out to Tampa, Florida to get an up close look at the wildly successful TECO historic streetcar line. As one of our organization’s primary inspirations and models for development, the TECO line holds a special place in our hearts, so this was an especially exciting visit for Mr. Chaffee.

First stop was the central TECO maintenance yard where Christian met with Joseph Delgado, Streetcar Maintenance Supervisor for Tampa Historic Streetcar, Inc, and a streetcar mechanic who went by “K.B.”. These two gentlemen provided a thorough tour of the facilities and shared some interesting tidbits on the task of maintaining a historic streetcar line. The 11th Street car barn was an impressive sight, full of beautiful old style streetcar replicas made in the image of an antique Birney car. Mechanics were performing regular upkeep on the vehicles and K.B. was in the process of working on a set of antique 1920’s era trucks, which was his maintenance specialty.

Joe and K.B.

Joe walked Mr. Chaffee through some of the streetcars, drawing attention to the beautiful oak woodwork and the distinct character of the cars. They discussed not only the artistic quality of the cars, but also how the system had spurred growth and development, notably improving the neighborhoods that the Tampa streetcar runs through. They even went out to look at the Birney streetcar that the system is modeled after. That restored original also runs on the TECO line for holidays and special events, providing a window into the charm of a time long since past. A little later, Mr. Chaffee took the opportunity to ride on one of the streetcars and chatted with the motorman, who spoke fondly of his job and the popularity of the line.

A beautiful Tampa streetcar runs on the rail

After returning from Tampa and having been reminded of how many benefits a streetcar project could provide to our urban neighborhoods, Christian spoke to me with a renewed excitement. As we move forward, the TECO streetcar line remains an important inspiration for our organization and represents the kind of success we aim to bring to the streets of San Diego.