Cable Car Day

January 17th is Cable Car Day! This occasion marks the day Andrew Smith Hallidie received the first patent for cable car railways in 1871. Legend has it that Hallidie was inspired to create the cable car after witnessing horses struggle to pull carriages up San Francisco’s steep hills.

Photograph of a San Francisco cable car. From UCSF MediCal yearbook, 1968

San Francisco cable car. From UCSF MediCal yearbook, 1968

Hallidie first tested the cable car in San Francisco in 1873.  Hallidie partnered with Clay Street Hill Railroad that year and by September the company offered public service in San Francisco.

Photograph of a San Francisco cable car. From UCSF MediCal yearbook, 1968

San Francisco cable car. From UCSF MediCal yearbook, 1968

Cable car companies faced competition from electric streetcars throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Streetcars, which run on steel rails and are connected to overhead wires, were cheaper to build and maintain than cable cars, which run on steel rails and are propelled by an underground cable.

Streetcar in front of the UC Affiliated Colleges (later UCSF), circa 1910. Photograph collection.

Streetcar in front of the UC Affiliated Colleges (later UCSF), circa 1910. From photograph collection.

San Francisco cable car. From UCSF MediCal yearbook, 1968

San Francisco cable car. From UCSF MediCal yearbook, 1968

By the mid-20th century, San Francisco was considering completely eliminating cable car lines. Concerned citizens protested the proposal and, thanks to their efforts, the cable cars were saved.Today, San Francisco’s cable cars are protected as a National Historic Landmark. You can still ride on a San Francisco cable car; visit SFMTA’s website for tickets and more information.

 

3 thoughts on “Cable Car Day

  1. Pingback: HAPPY CABLE CAR DAY! | C I T I N E R A R I E S

  2. Pingback: SAN FRANCISCO: Cable Car Museum | Bay Area Itineraries

  3. Pingback: SAN FRANCISCO: Cable Car Day – a.world.of.celebrations

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.