Christian Chaffee & San Diego Historic Streetcars, Inc.
On the Right Track
In 1915, twenty-four streetcars in San Diego were acquired by J.D. Spreckels for the coming Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. Developed and designed exclusively for the city, the wooden Class 1 style streetcars were painted a cheerful yellow with green trim, red pin-striping and gold-leafed accents. They quickly became a beloved symbol of the city and remained in operation on Spreckels' San Diego Electric Railway until 1939, when some were sold off to the public to be converted into houses and the rest destroyed.
In 1996, the last three known remaining Class 1's, which had been consolidated into a single-family home more than fifty years earlier, were purchased by an antiques and art specialist. Since then, armed with a dream of returning historic streetcar service to Balboa Park from downtown this passionate individual has succeeded in having all three cars historically designated by the City and has formed a non-profit organization to support this visionary project. So far, one of the three Class 1's has undergone significant restoration and appears regularly at community events, reminding us of our city's rich transportation history and acting as ambassador for the remaining two cars that have yet to be brought back to their former glory, and for the greater goal of bringing these cars and this line back into active service and to fuel our city's historic & cultural tourism economy.
This is the stuff of preservation, by rescuing these cars that otherwise would likely have been lost forever a personal journey was also started and has evolved from one man's vision into a community wide dream. SOHO recognizes the tireless, ongoing commitment of Christian Chaffee and San Diego Historic Streetcars, Inc. in rescuing the last of the Class 1 streetcars and advocating for a green transportation option that calls for the return of an exciting aspect of our celebrated past.
PAST PEOPLE IN PRESERVATION AWARD WINNERS