Hyperlapsed Muni Metro ride along San Francisco’s eastern waterfront. Starting from where the T-Third Street line exits the subway just north of the Bay Bridge, around the Ballpark to Third & Mariposa.

Castro Street’s Coming Together

After six months construction is starting to wind down on Castro Street. The new corners are being poured, work is starting on the decorative brick pattern in front of the Castro Theatre, the last ginkgo trees are being planted, the king palms are up next and arrived this afternoon.

Yesterday the pedestrian scale lights arrived and the construction crew had a block’s worth up within a few hours. The 15’ foot lights have a hood that reflects the light down on the street (nobody likes bad lighting, especially the gays) and the idea is once the trees have started growing in they’ll also start lighting up the canopy.

The pedestrians lights will alternate with taller utility light poles which will support the overhead electric Muni busses. The poles and improvements to Jane Warner Plaza at the corner of Castro Street and Market Street will happen the second week in October, after the annual Castro Street Fair.

Earlier Castro Street Updates.

A Brief History of the T-Line

When San Franicsco’s Central Subway opens in 2019 it will have been a full thirty years from the time voters approved first the four-corridors plan in 1989. Together the subway and surface section of of the T-Third Street Muni Metro line are two of the corridors, dedicated Muni busways Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard are the other two.

The Muni Metro light-rail (shown in orange) opened in 1980 with five former trolley lines converging into the upper level of the Market Street Subway (BART runs on the lower level and opened in 1973) and extended in 1995 on the surface along the waterfront to AT&T Park (Go Giants!) and Caltrain. The lines were configured so the JKLM lines ended at the last subway station at waterfront and the N-Judah alone traveled along the surface.

In 2007 the first phase of the T-Third Street light-rail line (red) opened. The subway section was still at least a decade off so the new line running up the eastern waterfront was connected up with the existing trackway running into the Market Street Subway. This turned out to be a disaster that had delays upwards of 20 minutes on a daily basis for the first six months.

T-line trains were to turn-back at Castro Station, while the rest of the lines continued on. Without a third track for T-line trains to layover on, trains had to switch directly from the outbound to inbound track before it could board and heading back. Switching over blocked traffic in both directions, having to wait for the track to clear made it even worse. This created an unavoidable delay a few minutes long, every 8-10 minutes.

After six months the whole thing was rejiggered. T-Line trains no longer turned around at Castro and the solution was just to extend K-Ingleside line the entire way down Third Street. Trains change name entering the tunnel at either end which created the current KT-Ingleside/Third Street.

The turn-back at Castro was only one of the problems, Muni still doesn’t have enough vehicles (only last week did Muni order more trains for the T-Line) and the 90 degree turn at by the ballpark is still creating an extra signal phase that stops car and rail traffic so KT trains can make the turn.

In 2019 the Central Subway is planned to open and the T-line will no longer make that ninety degree turn. They will instead continue north, entering a tunnel to Chinatown.

At that point the K-Ingleside will go back to stopping at the Embarcadero subway station (along with the JLM lines) and the N-Judah trains running along the waterfront will cross the T at a right angle. The lines have separate platforms in the medians and trains will be able to with car traffic (and without extra signal phases) so neither one will be getting in the other’s way. With the new trains that takes care of the three biggest delay sources of delays on the KT and N lines.

Even the naming starts making more sense; the consecutively lettered JKLMN lines will run through a different subway than the T line runs through.

Cliff’s Variety & Freak Show

A few months ago a car drove into the front of our neighborhood variety store. Nobody was hurt and in order to rebuild the front window they had to build a temporary box around the entrance that can be secured.

Cliff’s Variety already has a lot of fun with the window displays (such as a drag queen passed out drunk in a puddle of sequin vomit to celebrate Pride) and the temporary construction box is now home to the Cliff’s Freak Show.

A Currenter iPhone Product Lineup

Apple's iPhone product line: the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5S and 5C.Last year Apple released two new phones instead of one with the iPhone 5C taking over as the top of the line along with the 5C as the low cost phone instead of just moving the iPhone 5 down to $100-with-contract spot.

The 4S then slid down to be the free-with-contract phone which meant Apple was competing at the low end of the smart phone market with a device already two years out of date.

For customers it meant their brand spanking new phone will be four years out of date by the time they are eligible for an upgrade.

With the introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus yesterday, last year’s 5S and 5C move down to the cheep and free price points. Both the 4S and 5 are gone with the oldest iPhone in the lineup only one generation back.

Before the old street trees were cut down on Castro Street for the sidewalk widening project, posters were taped to them asking they be kept and incorporated into the new design.

Besides being year late, it’s a compromise the city made in rebuilding Valencia Street and proved to be a problem. The trees that were once sat near the edge of the edge of the sidewalk are now right in the middle of the walkway.

During the community design process for Castro Street, the City botanist didn’t have to do much advocacy for starting over. It’s only a short walk down to Valencia Street where we can see examples of it set up each way on different blocks. We also didn’t have very many trees before anyway. Many of the tree-wells were empty and those that were filled had a mismatched set of trees ranging in species, age, and health.

If history is a guide, the street won’t see a major overhaul for at least a century. The trees will be mature enough to be above us and providing share within a decade. At least in my groups at the community workshops, most people took the 10 year view of what the new Castro Street will be like once it’s grown in a bit.

After six months of construction on Castro Street the sidewalks are nearly done, most of the utilities have been replaced or rebuilt, a new foundation for the street is being laid (the crown of the street had been so extreme the center of the hump in the middle of the street was a few feed above the sidewalk), and now that the essentials are winding down, the extras are going in.

Last week the Rainbow Honor Walk plaques were unveiled and today the new street trees began to arrive.

The widened sidewalks on the rebuilt Castro Street have nearly all been paved. Even though the street and sidewalk have been the bulk of the work, it’s only now that the sidewalk is finished the amenities that make this a redesign and not just a repaving can be added.

Over the last few days the first Rainbow Honor Walk plaques have been placed along 19th and Castro Streets. It’s an LGBT walk of fame that will eventually stretch down Market Street about a mile to reach the LGBT as more are added.

More Castro Street Updates.

Instagram has brought time lapse to the iPhone with its new app hyperlapse. The app is incredible simple as described by Wired,

The elegantly bare UX belies the complexity of both what’s going on in the app, and what it replaces.

The first screen has only a record button. Once you’re done recording, the only thing you can do is choose what speed you want your video to run—the slider goes from 1x to 12x. Once that’s set, you can share the video directly to Facebook or Instagram.

I was given a sticker shortly after adopting my dog Disco saying a dog lived here, but it was badly designed with blanks for the number of cats (0) and dogs (1) living here.

I designed my own based on the Transport for London’s design standards, lifting the flames and phrasing of the first line directly from the Tube signage manual. I also wanted to add his name and gender so any first responders can call to him by name.

I was given a sticker shortly after adopting my dog Disco saying a dog lived here, but it was badly designed with blanks for the number of cats (0) and dogs (1) living here.

I designed my own based on the Transport for London’s design standards, lifting the flames and phrasing of the first line directly from the Tube signage manual. I also wanted to add his name and gender so any first responders can call to him by name.

Blurb Stories

I’m very happy to see the launch of a recent design project: a marketing blog for the independent self-publishing service Blurb.

The old Blurb Blog (still live) was a typical corporate blog that had become a dumping ground for news, product announcements, events, and partner promotions that can all quickly become dated or even incorrect.

What they needed was a place to share all the fun and creative ways Blurb’s customers were using to share their stories, tips, advice, provide inspiration, and examples of what customers are doing with Blurb.

This needed more than a fresh visual design, this was a tear down.

Enter Blurb Stories, built from the ground up around that core idea of sharing what authors are doing with Blurb.