Looking to the past...
to carry us into the future
San Diego Historic Streetcars, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization
Table of Contents
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The Project pg 1
The History pg 3
The Details pg 6
The Environment pg 9
The Bottom Line pg 11
The Game Plan pg 13
San Diego Historic Streetcars, Inc.
P.O. Box 34581 San Diego, CA 92163 | (619) 752-0151
sandiegohistoricstreetcars.org | facebook.com/sdhistoricstreetcarproject
...standing near the historic Santa Fe Depot enjoying
the sights of the waterfront. You hear a bell and turn to see a
historic Class 1 streetcar arriving to transport riders through
downtown into Balboa Park. Heading up Broadway, the Class
1 streetcar travels through the Gaslamp, by Horton Plaza, the
U.S. Grant,contemporary and classic coming together. Visitors
and residents alike jump on and off, enjoying the charms of
the sunny yellow streetcar as they explore new shops and old
haunts. The Class 1 turns to head up to historic Balboa Park
- the very same destination these beautiful cars were built for
nearly 100 years ago...
...Imagine San Diego’s own
Historic Class 1 Streetcar Line.
At the San Diego Historic Streetcar Project
we want to do more than just imagine. We are
working to get these historic treasures back on
the rails from the waterfront to Balboa Park and
on to our historic urban neighborhoods. The
sooner San Diego comes together to get this
project moving , the sooner we can all benefit. We
appreciate you taking the time to read through
this packet. It is our hope that it will inform
and inspire you to join the effort in support of
restoring the historic Class 1 streetcars.
“People experience the environment by traveling through it. Transportation
systems set the character of the cities.”
- Temporary Paradise?
How the Class 1s came to be...
In 1910, John D. Spreckels kicked off the fundraising cam-
paign for the Panama California Exhibition by donating the first
$100,000 ($1.2 million by today’s standards). There were still
five years before the event, but there was a lot of work to be done.
Spreckels set his sights on transportation, a natural choice for the
San Diego Electric Railway Company President.
At the time, public transit in San Diego was fairly limited
and Spreckels wanted something new and beautiful that would not
only serve the crowds, but also enchant them as they made their
way to the exposition grounds at the newly christened Balboa Park.
The SDERy designers went to work and soon the designs
were sent to the renowned St. Louis Car Company for construc-
tion. When they were done, a brand new, state-of-the-art streetcar
was born. The fleet of 24 Class 1 streetcars arrived in 1912, marvel-
ing the crowds that came out to view them. The Arts & Crafts style
streetcars were bright yellow with gold-leafed car numbers, red pin
striping, and green trim. There were huge windows across the entire
body, half without glass to give the feel of an open-air structure. The
interiors were dark cherry wood with gold and silver-leafing on the
ceiling, and push buttons inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
The quality of design and craftsmanship was clearly visible
but there were techno-
too. The SDERy design-
ers created a new “center-
entrance” style car that
led to the “Pay As You
Enter” (P.A.Y.E.) system.
Passengers would board
the streetcar and hand
their fare directly to the waiting motorman in the center of the car,
then choose either the enclosed side or the open-air side to ride in.
Another motorman would conduct the streetcar, which was con-
trollable from both ends. When it was time to head in the opposite
direction the motorman would simply walk to the other side of the
car, turning the seats as he went.
The Class 1s were designed to carry 44 seated passen-
gers, though it wasn’t uncommon to see up to 100 riders dur-
ing rush hour. They served the city from 1912 to 1939, run-
ning throughout Downtown, North Park, South Park, Golden
Hill, Kensington, Normal Heights, University Heights and
beyond into Coronado, Chula Vista and even the border. Af-
ter running exclusively in San Diego for over 20 years, the Class
1s were retired and replaced with the mass-produced, alumi-
num-bodied Presidents’ Conference Committee (PCC) Cars.
Once they stopped running on the rails, the streetcar bodies
were sold to the public as homes for $50 per car. This practice did
not last more than a few months due to a number of complaints to
the city. Residents were not allowed to sell the homes, and as they
moved out the streetcar bodies were destroyed. As years passed it
seemed that all 24 had been lost.
But that was not the case.
One couple had remained in their streetcar for over 55
years. In 1996, after her husband had passed away and the street-
cars had become too much work, the woman who owned the last
of the streetcar homes decided to move. She tried for many years
to have the cars removed but was unsuccessful and the only other
option was to have them destroyed. In a twist of fate local business-
man Christian Chaffee came across three gentleman in University
Heights asking for donations to save the streetcars. His intrigue led
him to the owner’s home, where he fell under the enchantment of
the streetcars and soon after purchased all three. One year later the
Class 1s were given the official status of San Diego Historic Land-
We at the San Diego Historic Streetcars, Inc. don’t plan on
ending the story there. As we near the centennial of the Exposition,
it is our vision to see the Class 1 streetcars restored and running
again on the streets of San Diego.
An Official Treasure
In 1997, bolstered by a detailed report from historian Alexan-
der D. Bevil, the three remaining Class 1 streetcars were offi-
cially designated San Diego Historic Landmark #339 by the San Di-
ego Historical Resources Board. In meeting the strict criteria
for historic designation, it has been clearly demonstrated that
the Class 1s are an important resource for understanding a key
element in San Diego’s transportation history. But historic des-
ignation does not have to end there.
Once the streetcars are running on any part of their original line
they become eligible for National Historic Landmark status. Meet-
ing these criteria can open the door to unique federal funding
provided by government organizations, such as the Federal
Highway Administration’s historic preservation funds.
After thorough inspection by experts, the Class 1s were deemed
good candidates for restoration due to their structural form and
integrity. They are wood-bodied, just like the historic street-
cars that have been running in Portland for over 20 years. Like
Portland and many other cities across the country, our Class 1s
could be beautifully restored and replicated by the renowned
Gomaco Trolley Corporation in Ida Grove, Iowa.
The following is a cost breakdown of restoring the streetcars, as
quoted by the Gomaco Corp:
• The three original car bodies can be fully restored in 12 months
at the approximate price of $650,000 to $700,000 per car.
• The first replica can be built in 9 months, with an additional
replica following every 60 days, at the approximate price of
$750,000 to $800,000 per car.
The Class 1s are compatible with the red trolley lines, as well as
other electrified rail systems currently being proposed for the
city. The Class 1s, however, are the only historic option.
Streetcars by Gomaco:
P h o to s
c o u rt e sy
o C o rp o f
o ra ti o n
& S te v e
M o rg a n
Laying the Rails to 2015
The streetcars originally ran through several historic urban
neighborhoods in San Diego, and we want to see that happen
again. First, however, we need a “Phase 1” that will provide a
strong foundation for a larger system. In addition, we want to
see the streetcars run on one of the many historic routes they
ran on 100 years ago in order to meet the criteria for State and
National historic designation.
An Ideal Route
Like the Class 1s, the Santa Fe Depot train station was built for
the Exposition in 1915 (by none other than JD Spreckels) as
the first stopping point for tourists coming into Balboa Park.
Our ideal route would connect these three historic landmarks
once again, taking passengers from the waterfront area at Santa
Fe Depot, through downtown, and up to Balboa Park.
The most obvious choice may be the historic Broadway line,
which would meet the criteria for state and national designa-
tion, provide high ridership access, as well as spur business
growth in an underdeveloped area.
A route like Broadway would certainly be ideal, however, it is
not the only option. To learn more about other proposed routes
please visit www.sandiegohistoricstreetcars.org and click ”Today”.
Riding the Rails to a Greener San Diego
When properly implemented, public transportation can have a
drastic, positive effect on a city. A fun and efficient streetcar
system could bolster what is currently a lacking interest in pub-
lic transit here in San Diego. The solutions to the city’s needs
will be multifaceted, but by moving more of our population via
streetcar and light rail we can help significantly cut down on
our energy inefficiency and reliance on fossil fuels. Consider
• About 86% of San Diegans use cars as their primary
form of transportation
• The average car emits .65 lbs of carbon dioxide (CO2)
• Rail is only responsible for about .35 lbs per mile.
• Public transit generally consumes about 3.4 times
less energy than cars.
San Diego politicians have caught on to these issues in recent
years. In March 2011, State Senator Christine Kehoe introduced
legislation to focus on meaningful public transit solutions be-
fore we commit to further freeway expansion, specifically cit-
ing the cost efficiency and environmental benefits of expanding
public transit. Duncan McFetridge, director of transitsandi-
ego.org, and Jim Mills, former State Senate president pro tem,
recently wrote an article dismantling the arguments for the ex-
pansion of I-5 and suggesting that city leaders fulfill their con-
stituents’ desires for a more efficient public transit system.
Leave the Car at Home
Though it may not solve all of our transit problems, the devel-
opment of a historic streetcar line as part of a symbiotic over-
arching system is a great way to help get people excited about
public transportation. Studies have shown that streetcars are,
by far, the form of public transit used by riders from the widest
range of socio-economic backgrounds. Riding around town
in a historic, open-aired, Arts & Crafts-style streetcar simply
sounds like a whole lot of fun - for everyone.
Photo: Betsy McCue
By building a historic streetcar line, we can provide the kind
of accessible, easy, and fun transportation that will help drive
up ridership, expand efficient and useful public transit, curb
environmental pollution, and encourage redevelopment and
economic revitalization in our communities.
The Bottom Line
The Big Business of a Historic Streetcar Line
We’ve talked about the history, we’ve talked about the environ-
ment, we’ve talked about the hopes and dreams... Now, let’s
talk about the numbers.
Photo: Bobak Ha’Eri
The city of Tampa, Florida, is one of the most notable exam-
ples of the fiscal success of a historic streetcar line. Connect-
ing downtown Tampa with a robust cruise industry, the Tam-
pa Convention Center, the historic Ybor City district, and a
number of outlying parking structures, this streetcar system
shattered ridership projections in its first year, carrying over
420,000 people (20% over original predictions) up and down
its 2.4 miles of track.
Since its inception, the Tampa Downtown Partnership has
identified over $1 billion in private development within two
blocks of the TECO streetcar line. As a result, other Tampa
neighborhoods have been heavily lobbying the city to expand
the system into their areas so they can enjoy similar benefits.
The Bottom Line
Other cities like San Francisco and New Orleans have iconic
streetcar systems that reflect the lifestyle, history and culture of
their communities. They help bolster the towns’ cultural heri-
tage tourism industries and create a sense of place, while pro-
viding an efficient transit system for locals and visitors. In fact,
the historic F Street Line in San Francisco has the highest ridership
of any streetcar line in the country.
Photo by Listgod
It isn’t hard to imagine the multitude of benefits our local econ-
omy would enjoy if the Class 1 streetcars connected San Diego
citizens and tourists to downtown, the cruise terminal, the wa-
terfront, Balboa Park, and beyond.
“The streetcar is awesome. It brings foot traffic.
I want to see a downtown where people don’t
drive, they walk.”
New Orleans Business Owner
The Game Plan
The streetcars can provide many benefits to the areas through
which they run... but first they really need to get running! We
need your support to get the Class 1s off the ground and on the
rails. Here are a few ways you can help make this project happen:
Financial Support We are seeking to build a coalition of in-
dividuals and businesses large and small, working together
to create a transportation system that will benefit all of us.
To make a tax deductible donation please visit us online at
www.sdstreetcars.org and click the red “donate” button. Or, if
you would like to become a committed donor to the project,
please call or email us.
Spread the Word Getting the word out is key to the success of
this project, and we have many ways for you to share the story
of the Class 1s with customers, colleagues, and friends. You can
learn about all the easy ways to help inform others by visiting us
Become a Friend Let us know that you would like to be listed
on our website as a “Friend of the Class 1s”. Just send an email
to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your full name and busi-
ness name if applicable.
“This is no time to think small. Great cities are built with great
ambitions and with great effort.”
-- Mayor Jerry Sanders
San Diego Historic Streetcars, Inc. was formed to
restore historic streetcars and return them to the rails
as a fun and dynamic public transportation service for
visitors and locals alike, while preserving San Diego’s
history for the community.
San Diego Historic Streetcars, Inc.
P.O. Box 34581
San Diego, CA 92163
San Diego Historic Streetcars, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization.