So as at end of Cage Aux Folles ‘for all those pieces that have flown apart to come together again’, our finale. That appropriately is what was affectionately referred to for generations as the Toonerville Trolley or Wooden Axle Line. More officially, it was the San Francisco Belt Line Railway. It was the link for nearly a century of all we have surveyed on our north shore as well as the link to our waterfront as it turns south. It ran along San Francisco’s waterfront from China Basin to the Presidio, moving goods from ships and trains to warehouses and trains to inland bound ferries.
It lasted until the 1990’s and we still see signs of it everywhere expect in parks like Marina Green and lands returned to marsh like the Presidio. It’s pinnacle was World War II when it moved goods from ships and trains north through Fort Mason tunnel to piers for Pacific shipment or beyond to Presidio. In earlier years, it moved goods in and out of Pioneer Woolen Mills, Ghirardelli, Cannery and Haslett warehouses. By 1914 a trestle crossed Aquatic Park and tunneled under Fort Mason. As the Marina was filled for the Fair, it went on to the Presidio. As with trains everywhere, roads and trucks took over and we now have only tracks left in roads, an abandoned tunnel and a new rail system along the old Belt Line tracks.
San Francisco Bay Area 1870's........................ San Francisco Looking South 1880's
And so we are left now with almost the best of everything: Beautiful restored marsh wetlands of Presidio to replace asphalt and resemble original; gracious residences and open shoreside parks of Marina as lasting beauty following temporary splendor of Fair’s magic pavilions; Fort Mason open, green and welcoming to all; historic ships and maritime reminders of Aquatic Park; Pioneer, Ghirardelli, Del Monte as tasteful shop restorations; and even Fisherman’s Wharf being anchored on East by Pier 39 replacing the rotting timbers of a dying port warehouses.
Fort Mason West to Golden Gate........................ Palace of Fine Arts West to Golden Gate
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