San Francisco's World Famous Cable Cars

Streetcar.org San Francisco Market Street Railway Museum
No.26

San Francisco Municipal Railway (1946- early 1960s)

Built 1890 by Ferries & Cliff House Railway

The first of several variations of Muni’s long-time green and cream paint scheme started appearing on Powell Street cable cars in 1946. The next year, Mayor Roger Lapham tried to scrap the Powell cable car system in favor of buses, but he was stopped by civic outrage orchestrated by the famed “cable car lady,” Friedel Klussmann.
In the green and cream era, which lasted 36 years, the “owner’s panel” on the lower sides of the Powell cars, was first lettered “Municipal Railway,” as on this cable car. In 1949, Powell car 524 was sent to the Chicago Railroad Fair with the owner’s panel lettered “Municipal Railway of San Francisco,” presumably to ensure people knew its home city; subsequently, other Powell cars received this lettering. In the early 1960s, the paint scheme was slightly modified and the owner’s panel lettering changed to “San Francisco Municipal Railway,” modeled on Powell cable car No. 3.

Powell Street Cable Car Specifications

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

Capacity
60 (29 seated + 31 standing)

Weight
15,500 lb (7,030 kg)

Length
27′ 6″ (8.4 m)

Height
10′ 5″ (3.2 m)

Width
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

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