San Francisco's World Famous Cable Cars

No. 2 - San Francisco Municipal Railway (1984-current)
No. 2

San Francisco Municipal Railway, 1984-current

Built 1893 by Carter Bros. Rebuilt by Muni 1971

Powell Street Cable Car 2 was built in the East Bay town of Newark in 1893 by Carter Brothers. It was part of an order placed to extend service on the Sacramento-Clay line to reach the 1894 Mid-Winter Exposition in Golden Gate Park. Some two dozen of these cars were stored on outer Sacramento Street, and so escaped destruction on April 18, 1906, when the fire following a great earthquake incinerated the original Powell Street cable car fleet. The Sacramento Street cars were moved to the Powell lines. Many, including this car, still run today.

As built, these cars were numbered in the 500 series of their owner. That numbering continued through subsequent owners until 1973, when the Powell Street fleet was renumbered in conjunction with the centennial of the cable car’s invention, dropping the “5” and becoming Cars 1-28.

After Muni took over the Powell cable car lines in 1944, the previous owner’s green and white paint scheme on those cars was gradually changed to green and cream; all 28 cars were painted identically, except for minor lettering differences. While the cable car tracks, carbarn and powerhouse were being completely rebuilt between 1982-84, Muni repaired and repainted all the cable cars, and decided to replace the green and cream livery with a simpler version of the original 1888 Powell Street Railway Company maroon and blue livery. A more detailed and authentic version of this original livery had been applied to Powell cable car No. 1 for the 1973 centennial of the first cable car line and proved popular.

Subsequently, with the encouragement of our nonprofit, Market Street Railway, many more Powell cable cars were repainted in authentic paint schemes that Powell cars wore during different period in the lines’ long history.

More details can be found on the cable car roster page.

Powell Street Cable Car Specifications

Number of Cars
28 on roster (Maximum of 19 in service at one time)

60 (29 seated + 31 standing)

15,500 lb (7,030 kg)

27′ 6″ (8.4 m)

10′ 5″ (3.2 m)

8′ 0″ (2.4 m)

Track Gauge
3′ 6″ (1.07 m)

Round Trip Route Length
Powell-Mason line: 3.2 mi (5.15 km)
Powell-Hyde line: 4.3 mi (6.92 km)

Cable Speed
9.5 mph (15.3 km/h)

Cable Lengths
Powell: 9,300 ft (2,835 m)
Mason: 10,300 ft (3,140 m)
Hyde: 16,000 ft (4875 m)

Cable Motive Power
510-horsepower electric motor driving four cable winders at powerhouse

Powerhouse and Carbarn
Washington and Mason Streets

Built 1887 by Ferries & Cliff House Railway

Rebuilt 1906 by United Railroads

Rebuilt 1982-84 by San Francisco Municipal Railway

Steepest Grades on Powell Lines
Powell: 17% between Bush & Pine
Mason: 17% between Union & Green
Hyde: 21% between Bay & Chestnut