Cable cars are a symbol of San Francisco, but did you know a Mayor once ordered them to be replaced with buses? Or that cable cars are very different from trolleys or trams? Watch the video for some of our favorite fun facts or read on for more about San Francisco’s historic cable cars.
1. The iconic San Francisco cable cars were the first national historic landmark that moved.
2. In 1869 Andrew Hallidie witnessed a horse-car accident falling down the steep hills, which inspired him to create a cable railway in 1873.
3. Cable cars are different than trolleys or trams. Cable cars run on steel rails with a slot between the tracks where a cable cars grip onto a constantly running cable. Streetcars run through an overhead wire and are propelled by an onboard electric motor.
4. Cable cars run at about nine miles per hour.
5. In 1954 the Mayor tried to get rid of the cable cars in favor of buses but “the cable car lady,” Friedel Klussmann along with her Citizens’ committee saved the cable car system in a narrow vote.
6. Unlike the California Street line, the two Powell Street lines operate from only one end, so in order to change directions they are turned at turntables.
7. Only 40 cable cars are still in operation.
8. They serve 9.7 million people each year.
9. In a public vote, the most popular driver was given a trip to Hawaii.
10. There is an annual bell-ringing competition, which dates back to the 1950s.
11. They are the last such manually-operated trolleys in existence.
For more on San Francisco read our ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SAN FRANCISCO!
Did you know these facts, did they surprise you? Have you ever ridden the cable cars, comment below!