tv Second Look FOX March 11, 2012 11:00pm-11:30pm PDT
. up next on a second look. america's first publicly owned transit system turns 100 years old. and we look back at the rich history of the san francisco municipal railway, from their historic trolley cars to the world famous cable cars. all straight ahead on the second look. hello everybody, i'm frank somerville, tonight we say happy birthday to san francisco's public transit system, the municipal railway. over the past century, muni has carried people on cars' buses,
metro trains, taking them to work, school, shopping or just a tour of the city by the bay. it was on december 28th, 1911 that 50,000 people turned out to witness the start of this system. the full slated centennial events are still in the works. one of the first, the re- introduction of street car number one, the very first one that muni ever bought. they set off to pennsylvania for a 1.9 million work, now it is back in the city and will soon be put back into service on the f-line, the line filled with the historic trolley cars, running between the wharf and up market street, joining other historic street cars like this one. it was made to look like the one that harvey mill, the first
openly guy supervisor, rode in to go to city hall. and this one was born in sidney, australia, muni acquired it a century ago. and the f-line, it became a perfect attraction years ago. and ktvu rita williams was there. >> reporter: there was something new, rather something old and new on market street in san francisco today. >> number 130, it was really great. >> reporter: it was back to the future, san francisco put together the first new street car line in 67 years. but the f line runs only old cars. one transit bus came all the way from new york just for a ride. >> san francisco knows how to -- move their feet and do things. that is the only thing i can say. >> reporter: new york has not yet? >> not yet, they're lagging behind. >> reporter: the city hopes the old cars will draw tourists just like the cable cars do. the idea for adding energy to
market street with the vintage cars happened during diana feinstein's tenure in the early '80s, she says it was not popular with the engineers. >> everything was going underground, they didn't want anything above ground on market street. and there were a few people that worked at it. >> reporter: that paid off. it took millions to lay the track and make the old cars wheelchair accessible. >> thank you very much. >> reporter: the cars called the president's conference committee street cars and design designed in the 30s are from cities across america, they worked on them and they are in cities where they once ran. >> well ladies and gentlemen this is the beginning. >> reporter: today, all rides were free. starting tomorrow, a dollar, with all the troubles of muni, the drivers on the street cars
who volunteered for the f line say it feels good to be aligned with something most people like. >> well, in the past they had so much fun with them. and talk about them like an old friend that i wanted to enjoy some of that. >> i enjoyed riding them when i was a kid. and a young adult. i am glad they have it back out. >> i love them, i mean they're great. >> reporter: but old is not better for everybody. >> the trains are as slow as when i grew up here, 20 years ago. i still like the ones underground multiple better. >> reporter: the vintage street cars have really been popular. and that is the pay off for the restoring program that took decades and a lot of expertise. ktvu's bob mckenzie brought us this report in 2004. >> muni's team of restoration experts proudly posed this morning, next to their handywork, the newly restored
cars from the '20s and '30s, all looking perky. they will be added to san francisco's ever more popular f line, running up and down market street. the vintage cars collected around the world are a tourist attraction, rivalling the cable cars. some of the vintage cars were originally muni street cars that did service in san francisco, where they were replaced by modern cars. >> muni ran these cars up until the '50s, and did away with their neat. and then they realized, hey, we need these back. because we have something here, they're fun the public loves them. >> reporter: a volunteer group helped to relocate and buy the cars. then muni restored them to working condition. >> you need a world class maintenance crew, a body shop that can remove the mother of
all dents and make a 50-year- old car look brand-new. you need this car that -- a sheet metal shop, for which no job is too tough. and you need a paint job that is the pride of any american transit paint operation in the country as far as i'm concerned. >> reporter: the vintage cars of the f line are such a hit, even with every day commuters that it is not unusual to see people let several buses pass by, in order to catch one of the old timers. >> still to come on a second look, what happens when a career criminal steals a muni bus. and later, how the cables came to be in the city by the bay
buses from shootings to assaults. in year's past, it has sometimes been the bus itself. in 1985, san francisco police say they arrested a man with a long criminal record after he took control of one of the buses at the terminal, and then took it on a wild late night ride through the financial district. along the way, according to police, he hit 13 other vehicles leaving behind a trail of bent metal and broken glass. police finally caught him at geary and grant streets just after midnight. and years later, a 14-year-old boy was arrested, accused of stealing a muni bus, and in that case, the officer ended up accused of shooting and wounding the person. >> the 14-year-old boy shot by police after allegedly stealing the muni bus and trying to force the pursuing officers off the freeway. the youth is in stable condition tonight at san francisco general hospital. the bus was reported stolen at
5 temperature. a short time later it was spotted by two officers in the squad car, chasing it for several miles. they say that after trying to run them off the freeway, the driver returned to the muni yards and ran into the darkened shopping center. the officer said that steven glickman chased him, and made a gesture. he said they didn't know the youth was 14, and that the shooting was justified under the circumstances. the check of the records disclose the boy had been arrested six times in the past two years for the theft of buses or other muni property. >> reporter: the muni security officials say its an old problem, buses can't be locked, no keys needed to stop them. >> i don't think there is any bus that can be locked with an ignition key. they started by pushing a button, located on the dash. >> reporter: it is not quite that simple. but people figured out how the start and drive them. the 14-year-old who took this one joy riding yesterday knew
how. >> he has been on muni buses in the past on several occasions, he was well known in the muni yard by the workers there. apparently part of his probation was to do community work at the muni yard. >> to me that is like taking a thief and putting him or her in the finance bureau, or working in a bank. i do not know who put the individual there, what court or what agency. but -- we did not know about it. >> reporter: the boy lives near here, likes buses and wanted to work on them. he was one of several juveniles assigned by the court to wash them on saturdays. muni said at one point the boy got clothing to look ache like a mechanic, and somehow got a badge. >> he was always asking questions, i got information for him, trying to help him
out. he wants to work on them, its good, you find somebody that wants to do did -- he is doing wrong by driving them. he is a good kid. >> reporter: they want to make the buses more secure, adding surveillance video. but that it is not practical to lock them up. >> you just can't have one exit for all of these mass vehicles going out into the street at one time during the rush hour. they have tried putting up fences prior to the time that i was here, and it did not work. >> reporter: the stolen bus was spotted by police officers, they said during the chase, the boy tried to run them off the road. the boy returned the bus back and tried to around. police say the officer who shot him thought the boy was reaching for a weapon. the investigators say the youth will be charged with bus theft and aggravated assault. >> eight years later, police arrested that same young man, gavin fuller on charges of stealing a chp patrol car. his probation from the bus
theft had included a job washing chp cars. and investigators say he stole the car and then drove to sacramento, even stopping a few drivers along the way to actually write them safe tickets. when we come back, the history of how san francisco's cable cars came to be. and a bit later, it was a famous san francisco landmark that was nearly blown up years ago sweetheart. we need to talk.
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. over the years, you may have seen a very famous film shot at the beginning of the 20th century. called a trip down market street. for years it was thought to have been shot in 1905. until a local expert examined whether car license, registrations and newspaper accounts to conclude that it was actually shot in 1906, just a few days before the great san francisco quake and fire. the film was shot from the front of a cable car. and in 2000, ktvu's george watson gave us a look back at
the rich history of san francisco's historic and world famous public transit. >> reporter: if it was not so dangerous, this ordinary trip down market would be extraordinarily like key stone cops. the wagons crawl down one side of the street. the horse and buggies start up by the automobiles. bike riders go in and out of traffic. pedestrians don't seem to be worried about the inherent dangers of this fading 19th century transportation in the emerging technology of the coming years. people are dashing behind the electric street cars, dodging horses, wagons, cars, bikes. you can see one century turning into another, and in this adventure, you can also find the cable car. in 1973, british born expert started this line in san
francisco. he manufactured wire cable, used it to haul the cars out of mines. he took the next step of adapting cable to street cars. it worked. in 1925, there were 26 cable cars in san francisco, and nothing handles the city's hills better than a cable car. but at 12 minutes past five, the morning of april 18th, 1906, the cable car was almost gone. some six hours after the quake, and the glow of the ashes cooled, only three of the cable city car lines remained together. remains of the once proud fleet were scattered about ocean beach, used as housing for the newly homeless quake survivors. but it didn't end there. the cable cars that survived remained in form and spirit, almost unchanged today. the principles behind the operation have not changed for
almost 125 years. they have changed from steam to electricity, but the basic principle is that it pulls through the streets at a speed of nine and a half miles per hour. the cable cars grab on, things have not changed, but believe me, the cable car system is not an expensive name. still in the 1940s, the cable cars were on their way out. electric street cars and buses were in. but a nose for business gave the cable cars new life, with the tremendous push from the city, they came to realize that was part of the city's history. an efficient form of transportation, and a great tourist attraction. >> people think of this as a ride out of disney land. but at the same time they're bumping elbows with a grandmother or older asian lady who is going downtown to do her shopping. and it is a community transportation system.
and always has been. >> reporter: san francisco not only had the first, now it has the only cable car system in the world. there is a compelling modern reason behind this. >> they're very simple cars and providing a did transportation service in san francisco. we're carrying on the order of 26,000 riders a day, just on the cable cars. which is more than -- caltrans for example, carries into san francisco. >> reporter: most of today's fleet is about 100 years old. 1982, the system was shut down for two years so it could be completely re-built. in tracks were laid. and the old power house of washington and makes son streets was rebuilt. the only part still standing from the 1877 original was the smoke stack. the cable cars themselves were re-built, and the municipal railway even began to build new ones. >> the city changes made on this in the last 100 years, we built them, used the same
building techniques in the last 100 years. >> reporter: it takes 3000 man hours or about 18 months to build a single car at a cost of 275,000. there have been eight of them built since 1986. this one is the ninth. the brakes are made of wood, the body itself is put together mostly of oak, but the ceiling is hand-crafted alaskan yellow cedar. >> it is 3 million each, and at the most, they last about 15 years. that is the difference between -- how they made things 100 years ago, and how they make them today. >> reporter: the cable car has survived earthquakes, fires, and even old age. what is the secret? it could be something far less tangible than traditional nuts and bolts. it could be something old fashioned for the cable cars themselves. >> i have 22 years here, i feel it is my watch.
. over the past century, folks traveling over the san francisco area have been greeted by the ferry building. but there were times when that world famous building almost didn't survive. and ktvu's george waterson first brought us back to the history of san francisco's ferry building in 2001. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> reporter: more than 100 years, the ferry building has stood here, solidly rooted on its perch. all this time, throughout its
life, the ferry building has been abused, covered up, and almost blown up. turn of the century, san francisco was the most important and rich city on the west coast, and fitting its stature, the officials wanted the grand entrance to market place. they approved a bond measure to approve san francisco's landmark. >> they were excited by the electricity coming in. they wanted a steel frame building to deal with the tension or stress. and when this was built, it has the largest foundation in the world. >> reporter: when finished in 1898, the new ferry building rested upon more than 5000 pine, each one 16 inches in diameter, the graceful arches underneath the water gave the grace. this was to be a welcoming station, well beyond the expectations with the 10s of
millions who would pass through it. inside, they were greeted, power not withstanding, perhaps the ferry building's most wonderful statement. 66669 feet long, by day, bathed in natural light from above, and by night, softly turned into a magical hall of lights. >> it will be white and gold at christmas time, pale blue at christmastime. if you had a thousand bucks and gave a party in the '20s, they would change them to any chore -- color you want. >> reporter: but years later, it was almost destroyed. withstanding the quake of 1986. it was spared from the decision when they worked on the water costs, after the quake, and the fire cooled, the army corp of
engineers decided it was unsafe and should be dynamited immediately. calmer heads prevailed, and only the stone facing actually needed to be replaced. the beacon would survive. ♪ ♪ ♪ san francisco began to rebuild efforts after the quake, with the ferry building at the hub of the re-birth. the ferry boat service was like new blood being pumped by the heart of the ferry building into the veins of the healing city. the passengers came in from marin and vallejo to the north, and from oakland across the bay. if you were going to san francisco, the ferry boat was the last leg of your journey. people would step out of the ferry building, smashing the broad based excitement of market street, to be greeted by still more -- >> that was the person you would see when you walked out of the ferry building, the muni
railway, all of them had tracks. >> reporter: and all of it being fed by the ferry building. the ferry system had 43 ferry boats carrying 47 million passengers a year by 1932. and things began to change. what happened? by the mid-30s, the ferry building had two brand-new rivals. the bay bridge opened in 1937, the golden gate bridge, 1934. that took center stage. the traffic began to fall off dramatically. by 139, service began to disappear altogether, the life giving ferry building was falling apart. in 1957, the embarcadero freeway was built, a child of the ferry. and there were suggestions it was time to tear do down the aging beauty. the st. embarcadero freeway
lasted for 35 years, but the ferry building survived as it always did, altered and re- defined many times, but still the beautiful, under stated entrance to the city of san francisco. >> this has been the people's building. and the people felt great pride and joy, they love the city, it is the natural entrance, and hey it lived through two quakes. >> reporter: durable, beautiful, perhaps most important, the ferry building not only survives, but we're always glad it does. >> and that is it for this week's second look, i'm frank somerville, we'll see you again next week