San Francisco's World Famous Cable Cars San Francisco Market Street Railway Museum

San Francisco Municipal Railway (1960-1982)

Built 1893 by Carter Brothers

No. 3 is painted the way the Powell Street cable cars looked at the darkest hour of the cable car system, when the tracks, cable machinery, and powerhouse became decrepit beyond repair. The entire system had to be shut down for a total rebuilding between October 1982 and July 1984.

This green and cream livery was a simplified (meaning cheaper to paint) version of the original green and cream livery introduced by Muni in 1946, two years after it took over the Powell lines with the purchase of Market Street Railway Company. That original livery (displayed on Powell cable car No. 26) had cream owners panels lettered simply “Municipal Railway,” later modified on some Powell cars to “Municipal Railway of San Francisco.”

In 1960, the entire side panels were painted green, with decals stating “Municipal Railway of San Francisco” affixed at the bottom of the panels. The wording was later changed to “San Francisco Municipal Railway”

The original green and cream livery was on the Powell Cars when then-Mayor Roger Lapham tried to scrap the Powell cables in favor of buses in 1947. Lapham’s plan was resoundingly beaten by civic activists led by Friedel Klussmann. In tribute to her, Powell car No. 3 was left in the green and cream livery when all the other Powell cars were repainted maroon and light blue during the rebuilding of 1982-84. Car No. 3 carried a plaque dedicating it to Mrs. Klussmann, a plaque subsequently transferred to Powell Car No. 1.

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