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Long-Vacant Landmark Muni Substation at Fillmore and Turk

Welcome to The Landmarks, where Curbed takes a look at one of the many San Francisco landmarks, listed either locally or on the National Register of Historic Places. Landmarks will be chosen at random, but do drop us a line if you'd like to see a certain landmark highlighted

Curbed has covered the Muni substation at Fillmore and Turk before, but it's been sitting vacant for so many years that we thought it deserved to be in the spotlight again. Listed as Local Landmark #105 in 1979, this was one of the first and one of the largest substations built at the turn of the century when street cars were first converted to electric power.

San Francisco gets to lay claim to the first street railway on the Pacific coast. The Market Street Railway Company was established in 1857, with its first cars powered by steam and later by horses. Most of it was converted to cable power in 1882, but turned electric 20 years later. When that happened, all the various street railroads were consolidated in the United Railroads of San Francisco.

The Fillmore substation was built sometime around 1902, and managed to survive the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. Good thing, because it was instrumental in making the Fillmore Street line the first to go back into service - in turn turning the formerly sleepy neighborhood into a bustling commercial corridor.

In 1944 all the street lines were absorbed into the Municipal Railway that we know and love today. The Fillmore substation fed power to streetcars in the western half of the city until 1978, when a new substation was built at Sutter and Fillmore and the old one was declared surplus. That's also when it became a local landmark.

You'll notice there are no windows or anything on the south side of the building - that's because originally there was another building there. It's since been replaced by the Fillmore & Turk Mini Park.

The building has been sitting vacant and in bad shape - the ventilation tower collapsed and for a while the back wall was held up with posts.

Over the past decade, there's been a bunch of ideas for reuse of the building. At first the Redevelopment Agency bought it about a 11 years ago with hopes to convert it into a kids venue/community center. The plan didn't go anywhere, so five years ago they sold it back to the city. Then three years ago, grad students from USF took on a project to assess the future use of the building. There's been no word from the city since, so who knows if any actual projects plans are in the works.
· City Landmark #105 [SF Planning]
· Previous coverage of the Fillmore Substation [Curbed SF]