As part of our celebration of 150 Years of Cable Cars, we’re sharing clips and photos we’ve found online that take you back to earlier decades.
Cable Car History
Melvin Van Peebles, Cable Car Gripman
We’ve written before of the many Black barrier breakers in San Francisco transit. These are stories that must be retold every month, not just Black History Month. People such as Mary Ellen Pleasant, Charlotte Brown, Audley Cole, Larry Martin, Welton Flynn, Curtis Green, and Maya Angelou confronted racism and resistance; all moved the needle in our City toward equity and equality, a fight that continues today.
The cable car tower
Since 1888, a small wooden structure has stood on the southeast corner of Powell and California Streets. It’s an essential sentinel protecting the world’s only cable car crossroads. Here’s its story.
Ballad of the Hyde Street Grip
The O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde line was the last complete cable car route built in San Francisco, opening in 1891. By rule, anytime a new cable car line crossed an existing one, the cable of the new line had to be routed beneath the older line’s cable.That meant that operators gripping the new line had to drop (“let go”) their cable at such crossings. The O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde line had 22 cable drops on a round trip. That’s why this 1901 poem by Gellet Burgess says “You are apt to earn your wages, on the Hyde Street Grip.”
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