San Francisco's World Famous Cable Cars

No. 44

Retired/Ballpark (maroon/light blue)


No. 44 was built as an open “breezer” car, like this one, and later rebuilt with an enclosed section.

This cable car bears one of the most famous numbers in San Francisco history — but not one ever seen on the Powell Street cable lines. This cable car was one of the originals built for the Sacramento-Clay line, moving over to the Powell lines following the 1906 Earthquake and Fire.
It was originally built as an open-sided “breezer,” identical to the one in the photo, where people could ride on running boards that ran the whole length of the car. It was enclosed to look like the other Powell cable cars in 1915, renumbered No. 504. It became No. 4 in the renumbering of the 1970s and retired from service in the early 1990s, replaced by a new No. 4.


Jamison Wieser photo.

When the Giants’ new ballpark opened at China Basin in 2000, the right-centerfield arcade was soon graced with this retired symbol of San Francisco, carrying the numbers of two other great sporting symbols. The old car No. 4 had been cosmetically restored and customized for its new venue, right down to Muni decals reading “Fare $2 – No Dodger Fans” and different numbers on each end: 24 (for Willie Mays’ jersey number) and 44 (for Willie McCovey’s). Later in the decade, the dump-on-the-Dodgers decals somehow disappeared, and the car was numbered 44 throughout, honoring the Giants’ Hall of Fame first baseman, perhaps because just beyond the cable car lies the waters of China Basin, nicknamed “McCovey Cove” because “Willie Mac” would have splashed down many homers there, had he played in this park instead of the Giants’ old home at Candlestick Park.

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