San Francisco’s Cable Cars

San Francisco Wine ToursThe San Francisco cable cars is the world’s last manually operated cable car system.

An icon of San Francisco, California, three remain:  two routes from downtown near Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf, and a third route along California Street.  They are among the things visitors love most in the city, and they’re the only mobile National Monument in the world listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The cable car system was launched in 1873, with its inventor Andrew Halladie riding in the first car.  After seeing a horrible accident—a horse-drawn tram slipped down a hill, dragging the horses with it—he was determined to give San Franciscans another choice of transportation.  His goal was to get people safely up the city’s steep slopes, and his system was a success.

By 1889 cable cars were running on eight lines.  Before the 1906 earthquake more than 600 cars were in use.  With the advent of the internal combustion engine, cable cars became obsolete.  In 1947 attempts were made to replace them with buses.  After a public outcry three lines, using 17 miles of track, were kept.

Cable cars are part of San Francisco, and the rides up and down her hills are as much a part of visiting San Francisco as seeing the Golden Gate Bridge.

Enjoy the exhilaration and the views!

Writer: Meredith Blevins, featured writer for Join her at for wine-country mysteries, classes, and the untamed west.

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