From November 13-19, leaders of numerous nations will gather in San Francisco for the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference. These include many heads of state, including President Biden, China’s President Xi, and others. The US Secret Service is in charge of security, and they have demanded that a portion of Nob Hill around the Fairmont Hotel be sealed off tight as a drum, along with the area around Moscone Center.
Dianne Feinstein is rightly being remembered for an astonishing range and depth of accomplishment during her 90 years of life. Her memory is a blessing to all who knew her, especially the thousands of women she mentored as a breakthrough female political leader.
The family-friendly Muni Heritage Weekend lets you ride vintage streetcars and buses and special cable cars that rarely operate. The world’s oldest cable car (1883), one of the oldest electric streetcars (1896), the very first streetcar Muni owned (1912), and the wildly popular English open-top “Boat Tram” (1934) will all be carrying passengers between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, September 23-24.
Cable cars celebrated their 150th birthday on August 2 with a lively celebration at Market and Powell Streets. The event commemorated inventor Andrew Hallidie’s first cable car trip, down Nob Hill on Clay Street, on August 2, 1873.
After a long illness, Tony Bennett has moved on to perform the Great American Songbook in the sky. It’s now time for San Francisco to immediately give him our highest honor: a cable car dedicated to him. Here’s why.
For years, our nonprofit support group has called the cable cars and historic streetcars of San Francisco “Museums in Motion”. Indeed they are – authentic transit vehicles ranging in age from 71 to 140 years, still providing reliable transportation to San Franciscans and visitors alike, thanks to the hard work of SFMTA (Muni), which owns and operates them.
Cable cars, a giant leap forward in urban transit technology when Andrew Hallidie invented them in 1873, dominated San Francisco streets until the earthquake and fire of 1906 decimated both cable machinery and the cars themselves. After that, cable cars were largely limited to steep hills while larger, faster electric streetcars carried the heavy loads on main routes. High operating costs gradually pared down the remaining cable car lines. In 1947, an attempt by a misguided mayor to junk the Powell Street cables was slapped down by a women-led civic coalition helmed by Friedel Klussmann, but even her heroic efforts seven years later could not avert the loss of half the remaining cable car trackage.
Innovation born in San Francisco triggered a hi-tech revolution that changed America and much of the world. We’re not talking here about the digital innovations from Silicon Valley. Nor the analog innovation by Philo T. Farnsworth, in a little building on Green Street in 1927, that gave birth to television. We’re talking about mechanical innovation 150 years ago that began a revolution in how people move around cities.
The California Street cable car line has terminated at Market Street since 1891. For the past 50 years, its neighbor has been the Hyatt Regency, the innovative hotel designed by John Portman, now iconic in its own right. When the hotel’s current management generously supported the celebration of 150 Years of Cable Cars, they asked us if we had some old photos of the location.
Wind and wet felled hundreds of trees in the Bay Area this winter, but one species in particular is dangerous to the cable cars. On March 21, most cable car lines were shut down by blown-down Ficus macrocarpa ‘Nitida’ trees and limbs.
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