Long before the existence of BART, AC Transit or even the Bay Bridge, the Key System connected the Bay Area through a network of electric streetcars and ferries. Over the years, I’ve heard many stories about how the Key System made local travel quick and convenient, so what happened? This is a question I’ve pondered countless times, usually while sitting in gridlocked traffic, so I finally decided to investigate.
On July 27, I’ll be sharing my findings in a presentation about the rise and fall of the Key System at the Cal Academy of Sciences. Come to the African Hall at 7:30 PM (Doors open at 6PM) to hear all about a history characterized by land grabs, rivalries, and even a notorious “conspiracy theory.” Although the Key System disintegrated after World War II, the legacy of this network still looms large, so I’ll also be discussing the long-lasting influence of its infrastructure. Plus, the lessons of its demise still hold relevance, as the Bay Area faces an ongoing emergency of various mass transit systems facing fiscal crisis. Tickets are now available here.
In addition to the presentation, I’ll be debuting my new collaboration with Oaklandish. To honor one of the Bay Area’s earliest public transportation systems, this new line of shirts and hats will feature a riff on the iconic “flying key” logo of the Key System. This design was adopted in 1925 and was emblazoned on the electric streetcars that transported millions throughout this burgeoning region before automobiles conquered the roads. This limited edition line of gear will celebrate the Bay Area’s long legacy of mass transit – and look hella cool.
There’s more! My Key System presentation is just one part of the festivities happening at Cal Academy of Sciences on July 27. Pendarvis Harshaw of KQED’s Righnowish will also be giving a talk and Olivia Allen-Price of Bay Curious will be hosting a trivia event. DJ Fresh and Drew Banga will be spinning tunes, Oakland Puzzle Company will have an interactive display, and there will be much more going down. Find out more details and get your tickets to “Nightlife: Hella” here.
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