Pizzahacker Attacked by Runaway Streetcar! (in 1907)
So you are on 29th Street walking from Goood Frickin’ Chicken to Rock Bar when you hear a strange sound. You’d swear it’s one of the historic streetcars along Church Street and the Embarcadero, but… that can’t be right.
The streetcar is hurtling down 29th St, but no one is on board.
The ghostly 9 rips past the Front Porch and the 3300 Club.
It’s going way to fast to make the turn onto Mission Street. It jumps the tracks and plows into Pizzahacker!
Other than the time warp, this is basically what happened in 1907 during a streetcar strike that was so violent, it was sometimes referred to as a war. The consolidation of private transit companies over the years led to poor service and the union went on strike for better hours and pay. (The strikes and crappy service eventually led to the creation of Muni a few years later.)
In short, a strike-breaking conductor and motorman were shot up the hill at Noe Street. While a second crew tended to the wounded, the gunmen sent their streetcar racing down 29th unmanned. It crashed into a candy store (where Pizzahacker stands today):
The injured men were taken in their own car by the crew that followed them to St. Luke’s hospital, the unmanned car being left at the top of the Twenty-ninth street hill. A person supposed to have been one of the three strike sympathizers who shot at the crew, started the car down the hill. “[The streetcar] sped over the six blocks between Noe and Mission streets, left the rails at the Mission street curve and crashed into the Mission Toggery and Warren’s candy store…”
More from the July 21, 1907 San Francisco Call:
[The conductor] heard a shot and immediately felt the pang of a bullet wound in his uplifted elbow… The man on the sidewalk near the front of the [streetcar] fired two shots and [the motorman] sank to the platform with a bullet in his thigh…
The car with the injured reached Mission street… but on the other track, car 1664 [was] gathering speed rapidly as its 26 tons of smoothly turning wheels came flying down the grade. Quickly the turn was made from Twenty-ninth street into Mission. Warning shouts were given and the crowd which was strolling in Mission street gave way to the green electric vehicle which came racing down the tracks.
With a bound the wheels of the runaway struck the flanges of the rails at the turn. The car swerved on the pavement. The trolley flew off. The car struck the curb and half turned, but could not he stopped and sidled over the sidewalk and crashed into the glass fronts of the stores.
The people In the store had heard the shouts in the streets and were turning to the door when they saw the car coming upon them with the almost animated ferocity of a dragon. They fled toward the rear of the store, but the car was too quick. Through the brittle glass and the thin wood frame the mad car smashed its way.
Here’s the 1900 Sanborn Maps site of the crash (and where Pizzahacker is today).
Here’s a GIF of the change from 1886 to 1950. The candy shop became a bank, probably in the 1930s.
And here’s the color Sanborn map from 1905. Looks like the kindergarten may have shut down by that time.
I’m not entirely sure if the lines were numbered in 1909 — those maps above are from the 1920s and 1940s. This one is from 1905, and seems to show destination names instead of numbers.
In case you were wondering what a “toggery” was, it apparently sold “men’s furnishings, women’s wear and dry goods“:
Anyway, the crash led to no end of lawsuits.
@Pizzahacker is already looking to get in on it.