The other is the trim Red Baron, a survivor of dozens of powerful tram cars that Hamburg built to resurrect the city's streetcar system, which was devastated by World War II bombs. When the German city's last tram line shut down in 1978 the long, narrow car was donated to San Francisco. Forgotten in storage, it eventually was put back into shape by Muni workers who had sharpened their skills on intricate restoration jobs on San Francisco's cable cars.
The favorites of most riders, though, are the festival's two Blackpool trams. Topless and with waist-high sides, they resemble elongated whale boats as they roll up and down Market Street. When San Francisco's fog rolls in, though, it is almost as if they are back home again in the English seaside city.
These twin open-air trolley "boats" were built in 1934 and for many years helped perpetuate the tradition of sightseeing excursions along the coast that Blackpool tourists have enjoyed since 1885.
Despite their ages and years of hard use, the festival's streetcars are clean and well-maintained.
The Melbourne trolley, for example, is a 1930 jewel with polished wood interior, shutter-like roll-up windows and center boarding platforms. The car served for more than 50 years on Melbourne's extensive tramway system before it was retired from service last year and shipped across the Pacific to join the festival fleet.
A Portuguese Trolley
Another international favorite boasting even more years of service is the tiny trolley from Porto, Portugal. About the size of a San Francisco cable car, it operated along the coastal Portuguese city's narrow streets, which aren't wide enough for standard streetcars, for 70 years. The car underwent a complete overhaul 50 years ago, but its mahogany and oak interior and decorative scrollwork still retain some luster half a century later.
Like all the festival trolleys, the little car from Porto is getting a workout. A festival official says they're all carrying "swinging loads." In transit talk, he says, that means they're full.