Class 1 #138 at the North Park Toyland Parade & Little Italy’s Tree Lighting

Mayor Bob Filner (middle), First Lady Bronwyn Ingram, and San Diego Historic Streetcars board president Christian Chaffee (right) [Photo by Betsy McCue of La Vida Creations Photography]

On Saturday, December 1st we had a full schedule here at San Diego Historic Streetcars, spreading holiday cheer throughout the city with Class 1 Streetcar #138. We started the day on Utah Street in historic North Park with the streetcar wrapped up like a present for the 49th Annual North Park Toyland Parade. At 10:30 am, our invited guests boarded the decorated streetcar on University Avenue. We were joined by many civic and community leaders, our board, and our friends and family.  We’d like to give a special thanks to Mayor Bob Filner and First Lady Bronwyn Ingram, as well as Balboa Park Centennial Celebration Steering Committee chairpersons Ben and Nikki Clay for joining us. And, as always, a big thanks to Betsy McCue at La Vida Creations Photography for documenting the morning. We appreciate you and your serious skills! Last but not least, we’d like to thank Brenda at Victoria House Corp for her huge help in organizing the day’s logistics.

We were thrilled to wave, smile and laugh our way through the parade route. Afterward we hung out for a while and thoroughly enjoyed the ensuing procession of vintage cars, marching bands, dance groups and of course the big guy himself— Santa Claus. No offense to Kris Kringle, but we thought Todd Gloria looked best in red rollin’ down University in that ’63 Ford Falcon. Keep it up, Council President!

It really was a blast… and the proof is in this slideshow below. Betsy got some great shots, so be sure to check it out in full screen.

Following the end of the parade, we wove our way through University Heights, Hillcrest and downtown to our destination in Little Italy so we could join in on the festivities of the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Village from 4 to 8pm. Our streetcar, still wrapped up as a gift from San Diego’s past to San Diego’s future, served as the site for a scavenger hunt as children and adults searched for hidden candy canes on board the streetcar. A big thanks to Chris at the Little Italy Association for hosting us!  You can also see photos from this event in the slideshow below.

Tired but happy, we ended our day and let the streetcar catch some zzz’s. Thanks to all who boarded the Class 1, reminded us that history matters, and helped us get in the holiday spirit.

The Historic Class 1 Streetcars in the North Park Toyland Parade!

On Saturday Dec. 1st at 11am, historic Class 1 streetcar #138 will take a ride down University Ave.  for the North Park Toyland Parade, carrying our newly elected mayor Bob Filner and host of community leaders, friends, and family.

Hope you all are ready to enjoy a truly festive holiday celebration with the wonderful folks of North Park— I know we are! Come down and picture these streetcars running on the rail in San Diego once again, reconnecting and revitalizing our city’s urban neighborhoods.

You can see the full parade route right here. See you Saturday!

The 1915 Panama-California Exposition

Photo of the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Panama-California Exposition

The opening of the Panama Canal was an event that was expected to usher in a new era of growth and prosperity for the West Coast. As such, San Diego’s leaders began to plan a grand exposition to advertise San Diego as the first U.S. port of call for ships traveling westward through the Panama canal. The 1915 Panama-California Exposition not only helped elevate San Diego’s international profile, but it also led to the development one of San Diego’s most treasured resources, Balboa Park.

Of course, there was another historic treasure of San Diego that was designed and  built for the 1915 Exposition. John D. Spreckels had already donated the first $100,000 (nearly $2.5 million in today’s dollars) to kick off the fundraising drive for the development of the Exposition site, but he knew that they would also need to facilitate transportation for this event. Spreckels directed the engineers of his San Diego Electric Railway Company to design a special new streetcar to carry patrons to and from the Exposition. Homer MacNutt and Abel A. Butterworth drafted the designs for the Class 1 streetcar, a new model that combined the strengths of previous streetcar designs and uniquely refashioned them with the mild climate of San Diego in mind. These cars would serve both the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 and the California Pacific International Exposition of 1935 during their 1912-1939 run in San Diego. You can read more about the history of our Class 1 streetcars over at our website.

Recently our organization acquired a number of original antique items from both of the Expositions and we thought we’d share some photos with you all here! We’ve got a few postcards, souvenir tickets, an original menu, commemorative coins, and even medals from the groundbreaking ceremony of 1911. In the photo above you can actually see the men who wore those very medals! [1] Take a look at the slideshow below to get a glimpse of our collected turn-of-the-century relics.

Update: Video from the Bob Filner Press Conference

San Diego Historic Streetcars, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) and endorses no political candidate. However last Sunday, Congressman Bob Filner did endorse our project and we greatly appreciate his support and the visibility it can bring to our efforts. Check out the video footage of the event above!

We hope to continue to have the leaders of our city and our region recognize the Class 1 streetcars for what they are  — beautiful historic treasures — and also for what they can be: practical people movers on a national historic streetcar line, connecting and revitalizing our downtown and uptown neighborhoods.

If you’d like to get involved, please take a moment to find out how you can over at our website.

A Big Endorsement for the Class 1 Streetcars!

Bob Filner shows his support for the Class 1 streetcars

Last Sunday our project was paid a visit by the Bob Filner mayoral campaign at Old Trolley Barn Park! Congressman Filner took time to address attendees and the press on the merits of our streetcars and what bringing a historic Class 1 streetcar line to San Diego could do for our city. Thanks a ton, Bob! We’re glad to have your support.

We invited Councilman Carl DeMaio out as well, but unfortunately his schedule was too packed this weekend. We hope to get you out to the streetcar soon, Carl!

We’d like to thank all of our supporters who made it out to this event on short notice. We couldn’t be where we are today without you all.

Take a peek at a few more shots from the event, courtesy of Charles Best from the Congress of History of San Diego and Imperial Counties, down below.

Class 1 #138 in University Heights!

Class 1 #138 at the University Heights Arts Open / Taste of University Heights

Thanks to those of you who joined us this past Sunday, September 16th at the annual University Heights Arts Open & Taste of University Heights. And we’d like to give a special thanks to Ernie Bonn of the University Heights Community Development Corporation for having us! You can check out some snapshots of the event below.

Class 1 streetcar #138 arrived before the events started at 11am to curious onlookers and excited questions of “what is that!?” During our breaks, our staff enjoyed a sampling of pizza slices, basmati rice, hummus, chicken satay, iced coffee and more from a range of excellent participating vendors. After a wonderful day of talking to people in front of Small Bar, Lei Lounge, and Bourbon Street Bar & Grill on Park Avenue, we were reminded that uptown residents chose to live here so they could walk and spend locally. Virtually everyone we talked to knew just how much bringing the Class 1 historic streetcars back to San Diego would help us connect our communities and enrich local life and culture.

Thanks for coming out and showing us you share the same vision for San Diego! For those who couldn’t make it, join us Saturday, October 6th for the Taste of North Park where Class 1 #138 will make its next appearance.

University Heights Arts Open 2012

Don't miss out on the Sunday Funday on September 16th!

Calling all streetcar enthusiasts! We’re bringing out Class 1 #138 again and we’d love it if you could make it!

On Sunday, Sept. 16th we’ll be at the annual — and always excellent — University Heights Arts Open & Taste of University Heights from 11am to 5pm. Come enjoy some visual and performing arts, music, delicious food, and then board a genuine historic streetcar built for San Diego and the Panama-California Exposition of 1915. You’ll be able to find us on the 4600 block of Park Blvd, out in front of Bourbon Street and Lei Lounge. Plus, we’ll have some of our charming staff on hand to inform you about the history of these streetcars and our efforts to return them to the rail in San Diego. Not to be missed!

Orchids & Onions

We’re very proud to announce that Class 1 streetcar #138 has been nominated for an Orchid Award from the San Diego Architectural Foundation in the category of historic preservation! This is truly an honor for our organization.

It’s hard to deny that these streetcars are absolute architectural marvels. The Class 1s were designed and built at a time when everything was crafted with much thought and exquisite artistry. These Arts & Crafts originals were streetcars on the technological cutting edge, but the true spirit of their epoch can be found in the fine details of their construction. From their fine cherry wood interiors, warm yellow paint jobs, solid bronze hardware, gold-leaf decoration, and mother-of-pearl push buttons, the Class 1 streetcars were truly designed as both practical people mover and beautiful works of art.

Our organization has put in a lot of work in restoring Class 1 #138 to reveal that beauty, as you can see from the before and after photo below— but our work isn’t done yet! We take this nomination as a much appreciated recognition of our work thus far, but we hope to see these historic landmarks serving San Diego once again as a practical form of transportation.

Until then, be sure to follow our Orchid nomination and give us a vote for the People’s Choice Award on their website. I’ll be sure to remind you once the voting begins!

Before & After: Compare Class 1 #138 when it was re-discovered in 1996 to what it looks like today!

South Park Walkabout

Yep, historic streetcars are this much fun.

We had a blast at the South Park Summer Walkabout. These events are always a great time in one of San Diego’s best neighborhoods. Special thanks to Marsha Smelkinson of the South Park Business Group and to Sam Chammas, owner of The Station and The Whistle Stop, for helping make this happen— we hope to see you again soon!

Seeing Class 1 #138 back in a community it used to service always rekindles our drive to keep pushing forward on our goal of returning these San Diego historic treasures to the rail in our uptown and downtown neighborhoods. We hope you’ll all join us in those efforts. Find out how you can get involved over at our website and check out the photos from the Walkabout below.

Summer Fun With the Class 1s

Summer fun with Class 1 streetcar #138

We’ve got some fun summer community outreach events coming up here at San Diego Historic Streetcars. We hope you’ll come get a look at beautiful Class 1 # 138 and learn about the progress in our efforts to restore these San Diego historic treasures to our streets!

Friday, July 13th / 20th / 27th, August 3rd, Summer in the Park Concert Series. The concert series at Trolley Barn park in University Heights is always a good time. We’ll be working a table there each Friday from 6pm-8pm, so come out and enjoy some free live music and talk streetcars with us!

Saturday, July 14th, South Park Summer Walkabout. Class 1 #138 will be out on the corner of Ivy and Fern in South Park for the South Park Summer Walkabout from 6pm-10pm. This event is always a blast and will feature a lot of great local vendors, artists, restaurants, and bars. Don’t miss it!