Ajax Underground

When the young Ajax Penumbra first arrives in the City by the Bay, he finds that “the great central artery of Market Street is a trench”—a trench eventually to be filled by the Bay Area Rapid Transit, a thoroughly modern subway that would boast, when it started running in 1972, electronic turnstiles that took tickets instead of tokens, and some fancy, futuristic-looking cars. But in 1969, they were still digging away, and apparently promoting the hell out of the wonders that the BART would bring.

As part of our ongoing, Ajax-inspired tribute to San Francisco, check out this “Progress Report” video from 1968, which features a song with these decidedly 60s-era-optimism lyrics:

Over the hills and all along the way,
We’re building a dream for tomorrow (x2)
Where trains that cross the hills and land
Go through the town by night and day
And sunshine touches every hand
In parks where children play

And around 3:45 you’ll catch a glimpse of the very tunnels that Ajax finds himself scouring, deep below the ferry building where the BART snakes around the buried sailing ships that rest beneath the city. More on that later.

For a bit more information about BART’s construction:
- Up from the Deep, the source of all these great photos, shows you the rich history of San Francisco’s Market Street, including an amazing number of legendary buildings that Mr. P may (or may not) have passed by on his journey through the city.
- The Bulletin‘s 1972 article about the soon-to-be-opened BART and the “2nd great subway boom” in America.
- And if you’re really, really interested in how BART came to be, the official BART website has an amazingly detailed look at the process of construction, from concept to the day BART first opened its doors.

The BART was originally conceived as a kind of air tram, suspended over the bay along the Golden Gate Bridge. It would have looked something like this:

Posted 10/03/13 Posted October 3, 2013