As the city expanded, there was a need to provide residents of the Sunset District with rapid access to that portion of the city east of Buena Vista Hill. In 1922 the city decided to build a streetcar tunnel under Buena Vista Hill.
The successfully implemented streetcar tunnel that the city built under Twin Peaks in 1918 proved to be very popular and it became a model for the Buena Vista tunnel. On 18 April 1925, Mayor James Rolph formally approved the $1,000,000 project. Construction of the 4,200-foot tunnel began in June of 1926. The tunnel was ready for its first passengers on 21 October 1928; the tunnel was named the Sunset Tunnel. Today, the N Judah light rail line which is the sole user of the tunnel is the busiest line in the city. It served an average of 45,000-weekday passengers in 2015. Visitors to Buena Vista Park are seldom aware that streetcars are rumbling through a tunnel far below the hill.
|NOW This photo was taken from Buena Vista Park. It shows the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit Catholic university located on Lone Mountain. Lone Mountain was at one time the location of the Calvary, Masonic, Laurel Hill and Odd Fellows Cemeteries. St Ignatius Church is visible on the campus of the University. On the far right is a keyhole view of the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. Magnificent Mount Tamalpais overlooks the scene. The view is looking northwest. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.|
|THEN The cemeteries are visible at the base of Lone Mountain. This photo was taken in 1898. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.|
|This is a view of the East Portal of the Sunset Tunnel. Buena Vista Hill is above the tunnel. The view is looking west. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.|
|On 21 October 1928, Mayor James “Sunny Jim” Rolph piloted the first N Judah streetcar through the Sunset Tunnel. This is a view of the streetcar exiting the Western Portal of the tunnel. The view is looking east. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.|
|NOW Mount Olympus has an unusual history; the 570-foot (174 meters) hill is topped by an empty pedestal. Until 1955 there was a twelve-foot-high cast concrete statue on top of the now empty pedestal. Titled “Triumph of Light,” it showed Lady Liberty. The statue was given to the City of San Francisco in 1887 by Adolph Sutro. The statue was on the top of Mount Olympus for sixty-eight years, and it had a hard life. The concrete weathered and crumbled; water got to the statue’s metal supports and in 1955 the city decided to remove the statue because it was deemed to be a hazard. All that is left on the crest of Mount Olympus today is a massive pedestal; its inscription is defaced and illegible. Mount Olympus is located at the geographical center of San Francisco. This location provides a good point from which to view the city’s beautiful vistas of bay, peaks, ocean, parks, and bridges. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.|
|THEN The Triumph of Light statue as seen on the top of Mount Olympus in 1947. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.|
|An illustration of the Triumph of Light statue. The sculptor was Antoine Wirtz (1806 - 1865). Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.|
|This is a view from Mount Olympus looking southeast; three hills are visible. From left to right they are: Potrero Hill, Bernal Heights Hill, and Bay View Heights. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.|
|This is a view is from Buena Vista Park looking north. The Tiburon Peninsula and the city of Tiburon are visible across San Francisco Bay; a portion of Angel Island can be seen on the right side of the photo. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.|
A Panasonic GX7 camera body mounted with a Panasonic 14-42mm lens was used to take these photographs.
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