As historic streetcars glide along San Francisco’s waterfront, Australian travellers can be forgiven for staring.
Streetcar Number 496 – with its distinctive green and gold colours – is a former Melbourne ‘tram’, which operated in the southern Australian city for more than 50 years before joining San Francisco’s colourful fleet of cars.
One of the famed ‘W Class’ trams, No 496 was built in 1928 and ran through Melbourne streets until it was purchased by the San Francisco operators in the 1980’s.
The streetcar clearly bears the logo of the City of Melbourne and carries signs that explain its pedigree and background.
A second Aussie ‘tram’ – this one a more modern SW6 class – was donated to San Francisco in 2009.
Ofter overshadowed by San Francisco’s famous cable cars, the bay city’s vintage streetcars are wonderful to watch in action as they run up and down the F-Line and Market Street alongside the dock of the bay.
Besides the Australian ‘trams’, there are others from Italy, Japan, Portugal, the UK and several other US cities.
Restored to sparkling condition, the often brightly-coloured vintage streetcars are an eye-catching sight passing San Francisco icons such as Fisherman’s Wharf and Union Square – and providing travellers and locals with a memorable glimpse of a romantic transport past.