San Francisco (Calif.). Board of Supervisors.

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for reproduction with our stories and articles.

The opportunity,' thus presented for giving in-
valuable publicitN' of a constructive nature to
our city was too urgent to be overlooked. It was
apparent that the scope of the publication must
be enlarged to meet the demands being made
upon it.

We point with pride to the record of achieve-
ment which has led, step bv step, to the position
which we hold in the official life oif San Fran-
cisco. Our publication has taken an active and
constructive part in the several recent bond cam-
paigns and our work has won recognition in
many letters of thanks and acknowledgment
from the public-spirited citizens and officials
who instituted these necessary moves for the
growth and well-being of this great city. Mem-

bers of our staff, meeting continually the leading
business men of San Francisco, are looked upon
as sources of information regarding the many
important projects in which San Francisco is
engaged. A large and constantly increasing
number of voluntary subscriptions have been
received from leading citizens who wish to keep
informed of the progress of San Francisco and
find this publication the most authentic and
ready source of regular information.

The Sax Fraxcisco Municipal Record
therefore takes its place in the municipal pub-
lishing field with a background of accomplish-
ment and a future of promise. With its larger
scope it expects to go forward with San Fran-
cisco and to offer, issue by issue, a record of the
contemporary history of this great city.

We are in the midst of an era of tremendous
public works and an orderly record of this work
must be kept and made available. Our citizens
desire to be informed, in an official way, of the
plans of San Francisco's City Government, of
the manner in which those plans are worked out
and of the periodic progress of that work. De-
partmental Reports should be published as ren-
dered and made available to the citizenry in
toto. More than this, they are of great historical
interest and posterity must be enabled to refer to
them with a minimum of search. The S.AX
FR.ANCISC0 Municipal Record, as its name im-
plies, intends to supply this need in an unbiased
and orderly manner.

During the past year this policy, rigidly ad-
hered to, has brought us many new friends. Men
of prominence have come to us with words of
encouragement and advice and assistance. We
are deeply appreciative of these facts. They en-
courage us to renew our pledge to give our best
to our city, ^^'ith the proper cooperation of all
Governmental Departments and of the citizenry
in general the Sax Francisco Municipal
Record will not fail San Francisco, but will
clearly, truthfully and regularly portray to the
world the great things this cit)- is doing and her
progress month by month.



The Most Difficult

Traffic Problem

in the United States

By Miller McClintock

Director, The Albert Russel Erskine Bureau
for Traffic Research



EVERY city has its prize traffic
problem which it considers the
champion of all traffic problems.
Sometimes it is a single complex inter-
section such as Columbus Circle in
New York City, Governor Scjuare in
Boston or First and Glendale in Los
Angeles. Sometimes it is a difficult
and crowded street length such as
Broadway in New York City. Wash-
ington Street in Boston, or Canal
Street in New Orleans.

After a considerable acquaintance
with the most aggravating traffic prob-
lems in the United States, the writer
nominates Market Street in San Fran-
cisco as the most "cussed" traffic street
in the United States. If you feel that
your city has been slighted, don't hesi-
tate to speak up, but first read the rea-
sons. It is not because it is crooked,
for it is straight as a string. It is not
because it is hilly, for it has no notice-
able grade. And it is not because it
is narrow, for it has a width of one
hundred and twenty feet between prop-

Reprinted from Moiorland

erty lines, and a uniform roadway
width of seventy-six feet.

For almost two miles Market Street
runs through the central business dis-
trict of San Francisco. But it runs in
such a manner as no downtown busi-
ness street ever ran before. In this
tlistance thirty-seven streets enter from
the north and nineteen from the south
in such a manner as to form a series
of twenty-four irregular intersections
no two of which are alike. So irreg-
ular are the intersections that at but
thirteen is it possible for traffic to

Arrangement Inherited

This peculiar physical arrangement
was inherited from the days of '49
when a hitching post was the nearest
approach to traffic control that had ever
been needed or contemplated. When
the gold rush town of Yerba Buena,
which lay to the north of the present
Market Street, began to expand, the
city fathers extended the rectangular
street plan southward until they came
to a problem. This was in the form

Signal .









1 1 1


3 KOwaRO


I |. {






of the old road that connected the Mis-
sion Dolores with the water front.

It was a problem because it inter-
sected the proposed plotting at an
angle of about forty-five degrees. To
have made it conform would have been
a violation of tradition and without
doubt the convenience of those few
who had built along the old mission
road. It was left, and with the gold
business rushing and the future bright,
a more generous planning policy was

Streets Parallel

Streets to the south of Market Street
were laid out parallel with it and blocks
of 825 by 550 feet, with streets of 82
feet in width, were used instead of
skimpy blocks of 275 by 412 feet and
streets of 68 feet which had prevailed
to the north. The resulting pattern
is shown in the pattern map of a sec-
tion of Market Street accompanying
this article.

On top of all these troubles some
years ago the city had a fight with the
private traction company, went into the

San Francisco's Market Street,
tlic most "cussed" traffic street in
the United States, is the junction
of t^ao districts, the block patterns
of <which differ in size and shape,
creating irregular intersections,
no tiuo of <which are alike. In
this sectional map, ten of the six-
teen intersections are shoivn in
white to indicate the deadened
traffic streets.



street car business, and today Market
Street has four car tracks for its full
length through the business district.
These have not helped to relieve the
problem. For pedestrians to cross
Market Street has been about as inter-
esting as playing tag with switch en-
gines in a busy freight yard.

Although Market Street is a natural
approach to the Central district for
vehicular traffic, the street cars have
just about discouraged the automobile
driver. The four street car tracks
take up forty-three feet of the road-
way width, leaving room for only one
line of moving vehicles on each side, in
addition to the parking. Despite this
handicap the street carries 10.000
vehicles per business day.

Not only do the street cars have
plenty of track in the street, but they
keep it busy. At the heaviest traffic
point 6300 street cars pass from 7
a. m. to 7 p. m. and 2150 at the lightest
point. Seven street car lines cross
Market Street, and at nine points lines
turn off the street.

Pedestrian Traffic
Being in the heart of the business
district, and having many of the
largest stores. Market Street has a
large volume of pedestrian traffic. An
eight hour count showed 110,000 per-
sons walking through a single inter-
section. Pedestrian movements are
complicated by the design and use of
the street. The width of the roadway
and the four busy car tracks cause con-
fusion. Pedestrians have frequently
been stranded in the middle of the
street between moving street cars, a
situation not necessarily fatal to slen-
der persons but one which affords at
least a close shave for those who are
plump. The irregular intersections
have often made it necessary for pe-
destrians to cross Market Street at
places where it is impossible to give
signal indications. The same irreg-
ularity has resulted in cross-walks of
very great length, especially along the
north side of the street. One of these
cross-walks from sidewalk to side-
walk is 320 feet in length.

Jay-Walking Dangerous

f.ots of things can happen to an un-
protected pedestrian while walking
through heavy traffic for a distance of
320 feet. Lots of things have. Many
of the other cross-walks exceed 200
feet in length.

Certainly Market Street is enough to
give any traffic ex])ert high blood pres-

For the past three years a citizens'
committee, the San Francisco Traffic
Survey Committee, with a staff of en-
gineers, has been working to reduce
this world's worst traffic problem to a
point where citizens can use Market
Street with less fear and trembling
and with a preservation of at least a
part of their personal dignity. In this
work the California State Automobile
Association, the California affiliated
club of the American Automobile As-
sociation, has taken a leading part.

These endeavors are now beginning
to bear fruit. How the relief has been
accomplished may be worth relating,
for while it is doubted if any other city
has a comparable problem. Market
Street in its various problems is a kind
of encyclopedia of alHraffic ills.

The most pressing problem was pe-
destrian protection. Some way had to
be found to keep Market Street from
becoming a barrier to the movement of
shoppers in the business district. In-
dividual citizens were very helpful with
suggestions, popularity being divided
between pedestrian bridges, and tun-
nels, and far less practicable methods.
Perhaps some of these devices will still
have to be called into ser\"ice.

Policy of Conservatism
The committee, however, believed in
a policy of conservatism. The first
step was to designate a system of cross
walks for the entire street. These
were as few in number as was con-
sistent with handling the crowds, but
each cross-walk was placed where it
would serve the greatest number,
where the crossing distance was short-
est, and where there would be the
greatest protection from vehicles and
street cars. The cross-walks were

Examples of Market
Street pedestrian regu-
lation. (Left) Beyond
the I'ehiclcs, pedestrian
ftow across Market ;_ in
the forei/round, vehicu-
lar signal, pedestrian
signal and beacon.
(Right) Pedestrian floiu
with traffic along Mar-
ket at the busy inter-
section <u.-ith Stockton
and Ellis. The four
lines of street cars along
Market are also lirll

Painted traffic lanes, to channelize vehicular

floiu, have doubled the capacity of many of

Market Street's complicated intersections. In

the foreground is a safely island beacon.

marked with metallic marks and broad
bands of yellow paint.

At best some of these cross-walks
were over 250 feet in length, entirely
too long for a non-stop pedestrian
flight. Hence emergency landing fields
or safetv islands were Iniilt at the more
difficult points. These resulted in one
instance in reducing the maximum ex-
posure of pedestrians to traffic from
320 to 65 feet. These pedestrian
islands also serve to channelize vehic-
ular traffic. They are protected at
night by flashing beacons.

The loading zones for street cars
had been placed wherever it seemed
most expedient. Some of these were
in places where riders found it neces-
sary to cross dangerous street areas,
and others were so located that stopped
street cars blocked the flow of traffic
from entering streets. Many of these
have been relocated and strong pro-
tective loading platforms have been
constructed for the protection of those
boarding or alighting from street cars.



Innovation in Traffic
The irregularities of the street and
the necessary location of the cross-
walks necessitated an innovation in
traffic control signal practice. At many
places the ends of the cross-walks were
more than 100 feet from the location
of the traffic signal which would nor-
mally be followed by the crossing pe-
destrian. Obviously these could not
be seen. In many other places the
traffic signal while in line with the
cross-walk, was as far as 300 feet from
the pedestrian about to leave the curb.
This condition necessitated the speci-
fication of a special system of pedes-
trian signals.

Installed on Market

Along Market Street 180 of these
signals have been erected. Each cross-

Typical of Market Street's
"safety Islands" are these
tnuo •which reduced the
former 300-foot "non-stop"
pedestrian crossing along
Market at Battery and also
serve to channelize 'vehicu-
lar traffic fioiu from enter-
ing streets.

walk has been completely covered so
that no pedestrian need be confused as
to the time when it is safe or unsafe
to cross. These signals differ in design
from the regular vehicular signals and

I'ieivs of the City's neiu traffic signals, designed by Chief Ralph J!', tl-'iley of the

Department of Electricity. Upper left: One of the pedestrian signals. Upper right :

Combination pedestrian, traffic signal and street sign. Lower left: .Inolher <vieiu of

the pedestrian signal. Loiver right: .4 close-up of the pedestrian

"Stop" and "Go" signal.

are so located that there can be no con-
fusion between them. In operation
the pedestrian signals work with the
vehicular signals, but in such a man-
ner that pedestrians can be given added
warning of the expiration of their
crossing period. This element gives
pedestrians a maximum safe crossing
period and at the same time causes a
minimum interference with vehicular
and street car movement.

First Instance in U. S.

This is the first time that a system
of pedestrian signals has been designed
to work as a part of a coordinated sig-
nal system. It is probably the only in-
stance in the United States where such
a system would be needed or justified.
At the same time the principle is a very
valuable one and could properly be ap-
plied at any irregular intersection
where the cross-walks are so located
that it is difficult for pedestrians to
follow the regular traffic signals.

The next big problem was to design
some plan for vehicular movement
which would keep automobiles and
street cars rolling at a reasonable speed
without rolling into one another. This
problem was not without its complex-
ities. In addition to the peculiarities
of Market Street itself, it should be
recalled that the street patterns to both
sides have their own irregularities.
The fact that the block lengths dii?er
results in throwing unbalanced loads
against Market Street. Since only
half of the streets to the north are so
located that traffic can cross, these
streets are heavily loaded, while the
others are practically unused.
Left Turns Prohibited

Left turns of vehicles off Market
Street across four busy car tracks
early proved impracticable and had
been prohibited.

Such traffic as could cross the street
from the north and south had hard
going. The corresponding streets on
the opposite side of Market rarely
matched, off-sets being as great as 200
feet. This winding movement usually
resulted in but one vehicle being able
to get through at a time. This situa-
tion has been remedied, and in most







Chief, Department of Electricity,

San Francisco

cases the capacity has been doubled by
the placing of lane markers of paint,
by the cut back of obstructive curbs,
and by channelizing the flow of vehi-
cles by the location of the safety islands
already mentioned.

The big job came in attempting to
work out a system of trafific signals
which would move traffic along and
across Market Street, and at the same
time would harmonize these move-
ments. The design of a progressive
control system for such a district as
the loop in Chicago is comparatively
simple because the blocks are of fairly
equal length.

Different Picture

Market Street and the adjacent
streets to the north and south present
a far different picture. There are three
distinct patterns with many local vari-
ations and irregularities. Despite these
difficulties, a progressive timing con-
trol plan for the entire district has
been evolved and put into operation.
The street intersections with the short
blocks to the north of Market Street
operate on a short cycle, the medium
blocks to the south on a medium cycle,
and the long blocks on ]\Iarket Street
with a long cycle.

While the irregularities of the pat-
tern make a perfect progression of
movement impossible, the system has
resulted in a great reduction in delays
throughout the central district.

These advantages are clear gain in
addition to the greater protection and
convenience which is afforded to pedes-

The Market Street problem is by no
means solved. There is no magic in
traffic control engineering which can
convert complex intersections into
simple crossings, or cause four-car
tracks to vanish in thin air. It is hope-
ful for San Francisco and other cities,
however, that traffic problems of such
difficulty as that represented on Mar-
ket Street can be so greatly relieved
by such easy and inexpensive methods.

Solving San Francisco's
Garbage Problem

By M. M. O'Shaugnessy

City Engineer

AT the election of November 5, 1929,
/a. the voter of San Francisco was
asked to express his opinion on five
separate propositions relating to the
disposal of garbage. Four of these
were questions of policy, placed on the
ballot by the Board of Supervisors to
aid it in coming to a decision on this
question, which has been before that
bodv for manv a vear and has not been

satisfactorily solved. The fifth ques-
tion was an initiative proposition pro-
viding a hard and fast method of dis-
posing of the city's wastes.

The four questions of policy were :
1.' Shall garbage be disposed of by
incineration ?

2. Shall the city establish a munic-
ipally owned and operated system for
the collection of garbage?


Vpfer left: Toronto, Ontario. ICellington Street destructor plant. Vpper right: -Vmi
York City, 73rd Street destructor plant. Center left: Nev: York City, ramp entrance,
139th Street destructor plant. Center right: White Plains, Xev; York, \ye Incinerator.
Bottom left: Miami, Florida, Nye Incinerator. Bottom right: Sev.' York City, 139th

Street destructor plant.




3. Shall the city establish a munic-
ipally owned and operated system for
the disposal of garbage ?

4. Shall the city enter into an agree-
ment with some party to construct a
privately owned and operated inciner-
ator with a recapture provision in the
permit ?

The initiative proposition provided
for municipal disposal by a fill and
cover method on tidelands of the bay
shore near the southerly boundary of
the city.

The vote on the propositions is indi-
cated below:

No. For Against

1 42,570 33,291

2 13,102 58,002

3 ■■ 13,266 55,756

4 22,163 46,622

8 .'.' 25,065 49,467

Two Questions

The campaign on these garbage ques-
tions narrowed down to the question of
incineration as against fill and cover,
and Proposition No. 1, endorsing in-
cineration, carried, while all the other
propositions lost; in other words, the
Board of Supervisors has been in-
structed by the electorate to provide
incineration for disposal of the city's
garbage, and it is left to the judgment
of that body whether this incineration
shall be municipally or privately owned
and operated — whichever may be the
better bargain.

The circumstances leading up to this
campaign have been quite interesting.
Until 1896, garbage was collected and
disposed of by scavengers who were
controlled but little by city officials.
Dumps existed on the various low-
lying areas of the city, and to these the
refuse was hauled. The dumps were
picked over by scavengers looking for
junk or other material of value, and
these men burned the greater part of
the combustible matter in the dumps.
A large portion of the dumps consisted
of material excavated from construc-
tion work. Most of these ancient
dumps have since been occupied by

Franchise Granted

After the most available dumping
places had been filled, the Board of
Supervisors, in 1896, granted to cer-
tain interests a SO-year franchise for
disposing" of all the city's refuse by in-
cineration, and an ordinance was passed
fixing a rate of 60 cents a ton to be
paid to the incinerator interests by the
collecting scavengers for all material
which should go to the incinerator.
This company built a Thackeray de-
structor with a nominal capacity of
400 tons daily. The plant consists of
thirty-two furnaces or burning cells in
two nests, each of which has a flue to

— Photo by Chaffee


a central stack. There is no combus-
tion chamber in this layout. The plant
is still being operated, although it is in
a woeful state of dilapidation. It is
being operated for the city, which owns
it now, by the Scavengers' Protective
Association, which also controls the
greater part of the garbage collection.
The association is paid a dollar a ton
by the scavengers for all refuse re-
ceived at the incinerator, and, at pres-
ent, it is destroying about 600 tons
daily in a very incomplete manner.

The plant is conceded by practically
everyone to be inadequate, insanitary,
obsolete, and generally unsatisfactory.
Some of the landowners in the neigh-
borhood, under the title San Francisco
Development Company, brought suit
against the city as owner, and the Scav-
engers' Protective Association as oper-
ator, to obtain relief from the unpleas-
ant conditions, asking that operation of
the plant be discontinued, and that they
be reimbursed for court costs. This
action was filed in the Superior Court
on October 4, 1926.

Demurrer Filed

On November 15, 1926, the city
filed a demurrer, which was overruled
on January 7, 1927. On May 17.
1929, the action was heard before

Superior Judge Edmund P. Megan.
Some members of the Board of Su-
pervisors testified, admitting that the
plant was very much as noted in the
complaint. It was not even denied that
partially burned or burning matter was
passed out of the chimney to lodge on
adjacent roofs. It was admitted that
excessive smoke and noxious smells
were emitted. On June 5, 1929, the
court held that the incinerator was a
nuisance and should be replaced by a
modern plant, but withheld final judg-
ment to allow a determination of policy
by the citizens in the forthcoming elec-

Engineer Engaged

After the great fire of 1906, an emi-
nent sanitary engineer of New York
was engaged as consulting engineer to
prepare plans and specifications for the
construction of three modern high tem-
perature incinerators in various parts
of the city to dispose of the city's
wastes in a modern manner. In 1908.
after a campaign initiated largely by
the Chamber of Commerce, the elector-
ate authorized a bond issue of a million
dollars with which to construct two of
these incinerators, and to buy the old
Thackeray destructor and the fran^'-'se
which had been granted in 1896 for
garbage disposal. Contracts for the



construction of two Heenan-Froude
incinerators were let, and land was pur-
chased in two sections of the city upon
which to build them. During the con-
struction of the first incinerator, the
writer became City Engineer.

Engineer Convinced

After inspection of a similar plant in
the East, he was convinced of the im-
practicability of the plant under con-
struction as applied to San Francisco's
refuse, so he notified the contractor to
discontinue work on the second plant,
and to bring the first plant to comple-
tion so that it could be tested as soon as
possible. Upon test, the plant failed
to live up to the specifications, and was
rejected by the Board of Public Works,
but subsequently the contractor ob-
tained judgment against the city for the
cost of his work, on the grounds that
the guarantees did not mean exactly
what they had been construed to mean,
and that he had done the best he could,
considering the state of the art. It was

Online LibrarySan Francisco (Calif.). Board of SupervisorsThe municipal employee (Volume v.3 (Jan. - Sept. 1929)) → online text (page 43 of 84)