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Scenes of the City: San Francisco Cable Cars

Most of us who live in the city see cable cars every day, or at least their tracks–but how many locals have actually ridden one? We spent a day looking into the background of SF’s world-famous cable cars, and what makes them work.

The idea for the cable car system was built from Andrew Smith Hallidie after he witnessed a horrible horse-drawn carriage accident, where five horses were dragged to death after slipping on a wet, steep, San Francisco hill. That was 1869; by 1873, cable cars were already being tested. Over the years, the system has expanded and gone through a series of changes, including a mayor in the 1940s who tried to shut the whole system down. Thanks to the people of SF, it is still around today.

There are three cable car routes throughout the city: Powell-Mason Street and Powell-Hyde Street lines, and the California Street line. Check out a map of them here

Be sure to visit the Cable Car Barn and Powerhouse at 1201 Mason Street. They have a great website help answer any other questions you may have.