San Francisco's World Famous Cable Cars

No. 22

San Francisco Municipal Railway, 1984-current

Built 1887 for Mahoney Bros. Rebuilt by Muni 1956 & 2017

Cable Car 22 has had three lives. First built as part of the original Powell Street cable car fleet for the contractors, Mahoney Bros. in 1887, it served the Sacramento-Clay line with its original number, 522, until the 1906 earthquake and fire. That cataclysm destroyed all the Powell cable cars, which were identical to those used on Sacramento-Clay at the time. Car 522 and its mates were moved to the Powell lines, and the owner at the time, rebuilt cable cars that had been used before the quake on Market Street to take over Sacramento-Clay. (One of these big 1883 cable cars survives, and you can ride it on special occasions.)

No. 22 - San Francisco Municipal Railway, 1984-current
Car 522 on the Powell Street Hill, which was then paved in brick, about 1945.

After joining the Powell fleet, Car 522 was used almost exclusively on the Washington-Jackson line between Powell and Market and Alta Plaza Park in Pacific Heights. Muni rebuilt it in 1956, but it appears to have gotten some final runs in on that route before Muni converted the line into the Powell-Hyde line, which opened in 1957. Renumbered to 22 in the mid-1970s, it has served both Powell lines ever since.

No. 22 - San Francisco Municipal Railway, 1984-current
Cable Car 522, apparently fresh from its first rebuilding, heads west in 1956 on Jackson Street at Octavia, passing the famed Spreckels Mansion, later owned by novelist Danielle Steele. San Francisco Chronicle photo

In 2009, it was removed from service due to its deteriorating condition. It reentered service following its second major rebuild in 2017.

No. 22 - San Francisco Municipal Railway, 1984-current
Today’s Car 22 on Washington Street at Mason, with the Transamerica Pyramid in the background.

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