On a rather perfect day, a photographer captured a San Francisco-bound Key System train approaching the terminal. It was 1957 and the trains would operate until April 1958. Signed as the "A" train, it could have been coming from either the "A" line or the "F" line as the same equipment alternated routes upon departing San Francisco for the East Bay. Third rail (600v) was used across the Bay Bridge and in the City. The overhead wire was strung for the SP (IER) and Sacramento Northern trains, both of which operated transbay service across the bridge briefly between 1939 and 1941.
No wayside signals on this railway, as the trains ran by cab signals between Oakland and San Francisco. While the rest of Key's trackage was rough, this portion (including the bridge and Oakland yard) was first class, built for the January 1939 opening of the Bridge Railway by the state toll bridge authority. When the Bay Bridge opened for rail service the railroad-owned ferryboats were discontinued. However, SP ran ferries connecting with main line trains until 1958.
The Folger's Coffee Company was still roasting beans when the photo was snapped. Hills Brothers and MJB were also in the neighborhood. The folks that began Starbucks were likely not even born yet.
The Embarcadero Freeway was under construction and is visible over The Embarcadero, where it would cast a shadow for over thirty years before being demolished. Main and Beale Street had freeway ramps, visible to the right of the Key System elevated trackway. While the freeway was under construction, a famous "freeway revolt" by the citizens of San Francisco abruptly ended construction along The Embarcadero north of Broadway. Between those freeway ramps, not visible in the photo, was an SP team track that ended at Mission Street.
Identifying landmarks that remain in 2009 are the administration building and Pan Am clipper hanger on Treasure Island, the highway ramp on Yerba Island and the Bay Bridge. Folger's is still there, but the coffee company is long gone along with the rest of industrial "south of Market." The old Transbay Terminal survives as a bus station with a long range plan to build a Caltrain route to the building along with high-speed rail. Even the elevated terminal railway ramps have been torn down, replaced with newer roads for bus access, presumably safer in the next big earthquake.