Geneva Car Barn celebrates 120th anniversary


John McQuaid '22

The Geneva Car Barn has survived the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes, and is now 120 years old.

The Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse located on the corner of San Jose and Geneva avenues,  has served the city of San Francisco for over 100 years, and today celebrates its 120th anniversary. 

 It first opened in 1901 and its powerhouse inside provided electricity to the city’s first electric streetcars. The Powerhouse is one of the last physical remainders of San Francisco’s first electric railway system.

The Geneva Barn, which is just a few blocks away from Riordan, was owned by a private railway company from 1901-1944. It was then taken over and used by Muni until 1981, but it was severely damaged by the 1989 earthquake. 

After the earthquake, the Geneva Barn was red-tagged and the building was vacant for a decade.

“ . . .it’s the last remaining piece of architecture from the bygone streetcar era of San Francisco, and it helped San Francisco grow.””

— Alexander Key ’21

In 1998, Muni announced its plans to demolish the historic Car Barn.  Before the plans went through to demolish the building, those who lived in the community formed a neighborhood citizens group and succeeded in halting the demolition plans.  

Alexander Key ’21, known for his knowledge of public transportation, explained what the Geneva Car Barn means to the community, saying,  “It means history because it’s the last remaining piece of architecture from the bygone streetcar era of San Francisco, and it helped San Francisco grow.”

After halting the demolition and saving the building, ownership was transferred in 2004 to the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. 

 In 2010, the Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse was recognized as a historic landmark by the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2018, the San Francisco Park & Rec announced the $14 million renovation of the historic Geneva Car Barn. The renovation seemed beneficial for a lot of people and many around the community supported the renovation of the Car Barn and Powerhouse.


Today, the Geneva Car Barn and Powerhouse serves as recreational use and will host a variety of youth arts classes in dance, theater, music, spoken word, and more once the Covid restrictions subside. 

Roy Sanchez ’22 said, “The renovation was well worth it because it helped provide space to do fun activities for children around the neighborhood and city.”