Carville, the Lost Neighborhood
In the 1870s the emergence of the cable car and street cars like this one meant the end for horse-drawn railcars. As rail companies updated their rolling stock the old cars were abandoned as obsolete. In 1895 Charles Stahl had the idea to buy three abandoned cars and move them out to the ocean where he assembled a make-shift summer house for his family on the remote dunes. The idea caught on and soon other cars were being purchased, hauled out to the dunes and recycled into a little neighborhood. Carville, as it came to be called, include cars turned into homes, shops, a real estate office, a children's playhouse, and a "coffee saloon."

The remote location in the dunes, near the water lent a romantic and bohemian air to the community. The Falcons, San Francisco's first bicycling club had a clubhouse in Carville as did an all-female social club and another for local musicians. Some cars were rented as sites for romantic trysts while one even served as an Episcopal church. Eventually by the 1930s the city limits of San Francisco had spread out to the Ocean and 'real homes' absorbed the neighborhood of Carville. Some new homes were simply built around the old cars, hiding their history behind the new facade. Today a few homes by the ocean still retain a secret rail car within, the last hidden evidence that Carville ever existed.
[ Photo: MAP D-14 Carville: MAP K-2 to N-2 ]