Powell Cable Car 8 wears the second of several variations of Muni’s long-time green and cream paint scheme. This variation first appeared on Powell Street Cable Car 524 in 1948.
In 1948-49, Chicago hosted a huge railroad fair on the shore of Lake Michigan. Western Pacific Railroad, based in San Francisco, sponsored sending Powell Car 524 to the Fair, where it actually operated on a short stretch of cable-powered track.
At that time, the Powell Cable Cars had recently been repainted from the green and white livery of the previous owner of the Powell Street lines, Market Street Railway Company. Muni but kept green as the main color. On the cream-colored lower side panels, Muni lettered “Municipal Railway” in black.
But for Car 524, City leaders wanted to ensure there was no mistaking the provenance of the cable car as it served as San Francisco’s ambassador in the Windy City, so the lower side panel lettering was changed to “Municipal Railway of San Francisco.”
Subsequently, some (but not all) 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 today on Powell cable car No. 3.
Powell Car 524 is still in service, renumbered to 24 in the 1970s and now dedicated to Giants’ great Willie Mays, who wore that number throughout his career. The livery and lettering it had from 1948 until the end of the 1960s was applied to Powell Car 8 during its 2018-2022 total reconstruction from just a frame.
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)
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)
9.5 mph (15.3 km/h)
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