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BART To The Future

October 10, 2009

Oh man. Eric Fisher bums us out by scanning this 1961 GE ad of what BART could have been.

Golden Gate Bridge BART

(Note the timely inclusion of the USS Saratoga, CVN 60.  But I have no idea where that chopper could be coming from – oh, wait, 85th Avenue.)

BART to the future

Note the above-ground tracks in Berkeley.  And holy lots of white people on that train. Sex Pigeon, if your telepathy trucker hat has an alternate history setting, what are they thinking?

white people can't drive

In all honesty we got a pretty good deal of this, though BART along Geary/Broadway and on the Golden Gate Bridge would have been a pretty epic ride. (And a crosstown BART down Divisidero-Castro-Noe-30th Street-SFO would work for me too. Just don’t turn off that tunneling machine, Gavin.)

bart bart 1961

Makes you wonder what the bullet train to LA will actually look like 50 years from now.  Some space-blogger will be all, “Ha ha, look at this Burrito Justice idiot who said the train would go just 250 miles an hour when in fact it arrives in San Francisco BEFORE IT ACTUALLY LEAVES LA!”

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Concerned Guajolote permalink
    October 11, 2009 5:56 pm

    This Eric Fisher guy is on a tear, his flickr stream is like a counterfactual urban history of the region. One thing that would be fascinating — and I know he is a software guy and you seem like one and there are many among your readers — would be to create population models to go along with these maps. Since these maps were made, say the 1960 census, the CA population has gone up a bit over 150% — whereas the subject of this map, trainless San Mateo and Marin, have gone up a bit over 50%, and especially in Marin growth really flattens about 40 years ago. Say infrastructure investments had kept up in the original settled counties (ie all the regional growth was not in Solano County). BART to San Rafael and Mountain View would have changed everything — we could easily have been double our current size. Say we just take existing census tracts, and fill them in with some model for organic growth up to those possible population figures — what would these cities look like? What if all the people who were forced to move to Nevada and Arizona had stayed? What is the average distance between a current California grandparent and their grandchildren, and how far would it be if we had actually let ourselves urbanize?

    There are probably people in your audience who can make shapefiles or some sort of GIS polygon and line datasets from these maps — imagine going to google and seeing a set of maps with alternate transit options. Not just the stuff that was proposed and not built, but the stuff that has already been torn down. It would also be a good thing for advocacy of new transit — next to a jocular or painful map showing the transit time from Mountain View to San Rafael by BART you could show the existing 101 + Van Ness + Golden Gate + Marin traffic, there would be a tagline like “Which of these itineraries will you give to your grandchildren?” Somewhat scattered thoughts but I would be happy to contribute some database and high-level programming work, if other people are interested.

  2. Eric G permalink
    October 12, 2009 4:48 pm

    Can we please go back in time and have them build all of this? Thanks!

    BTW, supposedly the reason for Bart’s extra-wide tracks was that they didn’t want it blowing over when it went across the windy golden gate.

  3. October 12, 2009 10:19 pm

    Guajolote: of course, that cuts both ways. I’m sure that many people in Marin are entirely aware of your scenario, and feel that they dodged a bullet. :-b

  4. October 13, 2009 8:22 am

    I don’t know what’s worse, the traffic on 101 or the Marincello planned community that almost got built by Gulf Oil in 1965 next to Tennessee Valley.

  5. Cranky Old Mision Guy permalink
    October 13, 2009 12:09 pm

    If you go back and look at what was planned back in the late ’30s, you’ll find elevated tracks on Market Street, as then existed in Chicago and New York. Urban planners try to do what they can with what little they know, and always fuck it up. Notice that in your fabulous plans from the past, which I partially endorse, there is no provision for a San Jose BART station (unless I’m missing something). That’s just stupid, and Philip K. Dick could have told you so, even then.

  6. Concerned Guajolote permalink
    October 13, 2009 4:54 pm


    Santa Clara County supervisors voted against BART in 1957 in favor of spending the money on expressways, so this plan reflected that. Of course it would have made sense to go all the way to San Jose and maybe Almaden — this one looks like it stops exactly in Menlo Park, Santa Clara Co actually juts out and includes Palo Alto.

    Doctor Memory–

    Of course there are many people in Marin who don’t want our daughters (yours and mine, January for me) cluttering up their viewshed. And many people in San Mateo Co think 7 figures is an appropriate minimum for a decent place to live. I just disagree, I don’t want my kids to join the tens of thousands per year who are forced out of the area, and as far as I can see the only ways to prevent that is either to push existing people out, or make new dwellings and infrastructure. And if they are fortunate enough to be IPO’d it would still be nice for their friends and cousins to be able to stay.

  7. Concerned Guajolote permalink
    October 13, 2009 5:30 pm


    An alternative future lede: “””Architectural historians and neighborhood activists are decrying what they call the bull-dozing of Marincello, which critics say could be the consequence of plans for a new shopping center. Described by spokeswoman Debra Pannetone as “a unique expression of midcentury modernism”, the pricey neighborhood, known for gorgeous views, excellent schools, and its nuclear-free policy, is up in arms over the planned conversion of one of only three remaining 60’s era falafel drive-thrus. “I can’t stand this tacoburger aztec strip mall crap,” fumed resident Johnny O’Higgins. Comments on local blog FalafelJustice were equally scathing: “The good old days were so much better”, read one, “I used to get laid all the time, and houses only cost $50,000. And we went to the Falafel drive thru all the time.”…”””


    “UPDATE: They are fucking ruining Falafel Drive-Thru!


    Fucking developer bastards! Why can’t they leave Marincello alone! I like it just like it is, actually not as much as I liked it in the 90’s, because we had raves and Barbara Kruger posters, definitely more authentic Marincello than what they are trying to pass off as Marincello these days.”

  8. October 13, 2009 6:18 pm

    A falafel drive-through would be pretty awesome.

  9. Concerned Guajolote permalink
    October 13, 2009 6:35 pm

    It is a bay area institution, worth a stop if you are ever down there. The drive-in part of the name is more notional and historical than actual.


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