Cable cars celebrated their 150th birthday on August 2 with a lively celebration at Market and Powell Streets. The event commemorated inventor Andrew Hallidie’s first cable car trip, down Nob Hill on Clay Street, on August 2, 1873.
After a long illness, Tony Bennett has moved on to perform the Great American Songbook in the sky. It’s now time for San Francisco to immediately give him our highest honor: a cable car dedicated to him. Here’s why.
UPDATE, July 9 — Today and tomorrow (July 9 & 10), a Milan tram will be the vintage vehicle on the waterfront. Pull out from Cameron Beach Yard at 9:20 a.m. It will shuttle between the Ferry Building and Pier 39. It’s not supposed to linger at Pier 39 or go all the way to the Wharf, so it can cover the heaviest part of the line more efficiently. Please send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you see something different.
On June 23, 1983, Mayor Dianne Feinstein joined a mix of dignitaries, neighborhood folks and railfans at Castro and 17th Streets to inaugurate the first San Francisco Historic Trolley Festival.
The Mayor was there. Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, too. News media were there. And, thanks to “Stanford scientists”, cable car inventor Andrew Hallidie was there. Plus other civic luminaries, coming together on June 13 at California and Market Streets to kick off the celebration of 150 Years of Cable Cars, organized by our nonprofit and the little cars’ owner-operator, SFMTA/Muni, supported by partners from the historic preservation, business, and education communities.
As we’ve mentioned, the civic celebration of 150 Years of Cable Cars kicks off at 11 a.m., Tuesday, June 13 at California and Market Streets as Mayor London Breed is joined by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, Cable Car Inventor “Andrew Hallidie” (or a reasonable facsimile) and the oldest and largest cable car in the fleet, Sacramento-Clay Car “Big 19”, which will carry the dignitaries up through Chinatown and over Nob Hill to Polk Gulch and Van Ness Avenue, parallel to Hallidie’s original Clay Street line two blocks north. Here’s “Big 19” taking a spin on the cable car barn turntable, getting ready for its closeup.
For years, our nonprofit support group has called the cable cars and historic streetcars of San Francisco “Museums in Motion”. Indeed they are – authentic transit vehicles ranging in age from 71 to 140 years, still providing reliable transportation to San Franciscans and visitors alike, thanks to the hard work of SFMTA (Muni), which owns and operates them.
In 2013, Market Street Railway brought 1934 Blackpool, England “boat tram” to San Francisco, underwritten by a generous donation from the Thoresen Foundation, with shipping help from FedEx. We did it because the boat tram we brought over for Muni in 1984, thanks to Bechtel, had proven to be the most popular single vintage streetcar in Muni’s fleet.
With only one, though, it was impractical to schedule regular operation of the popular car. And even after the second boat tram (#233) arrived, most folks thought Muni still only had the one (#228). When the time came to do some work on 228, we suggested to Director of Transit Julie Kirschbaum that they do what Blackpool itself had done more than a dozen years before: paint the trim on one boat a bright red, to contrast with the traditional green and make it obvious that there are two of them. She thought it was a great idea.
The California Street cable car line has terminated at Market Street since 1891. For the past 50 years, its neighbor has been the Hyatt Regency, the innovative hotel designed by John Portman, now iconic in its own right. When the hotel’s current management generously supported the celebration of 150 Years of Cable Cars, they asked us if we had some old photos of the location.
After a spectacular restoration, a 1940s streetcar paying tribute to Philadelphia’s “Red Arrow” lines is again carrying passengers on the streets of San Francisco.
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