Roaring Back!

For the first time in more than a half-century, a cable car lettered for the O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde line has gripped the cable under San Francisco’s streets. Cable car No. 42, retired and sold off after the 1954 cable car system ‘consolidation’, officially returned to service on June 3, 2005 with Mayor Gavin Newsom on the running board and dozens of other mayors from major world cities onboard.

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O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde cable car No. 42 rocketed onto its ‘home turf’ with passengers for the first time in 51 years. Filled with mayors from around the world, the car is turning from California onto the non-revenue trackage on Hyde Street, part of the line’s original route from 1891 to 1954. Mayor Gavin Newsom holds the spot of honor on the left-front running board. Steve Ferrario photo.

Resplendent in the multiple coats of hand-rubbed maroon paint applied by Market Street Railway volunteers (the gold lettering and striping hand-applied by master craftsman Fred Bennett for Market Street Railway) and operating smoothly with the grips, trucks, brakes and rigging installed by Muni’s dedicated cable car maintenance team, car No. 42 completed an eleven-year restoration odyssey as it was officially christened the ceremonial cable car of the City and County of San Francisco, reserved for special events such as UN World Environment Day 2005, where it made its debut in its new role.

Sunning itself in the June 3rd noonday sun on the tail track at the Market Street end of the California cable line, the car drew admiring stares from passersby. Then, two alternate-fuel buses pulled up, carrying delegates to the United Nations event, including more than 60 mayors from major world cities. They climbed on No. 42, with Mayor Newsom taking the front left running board position, from which he waved and slapped palms with motorists who rolled down their windows to greet him. All the way, the car’s progress was marked by the melodic strains of the rear-end bell, played specially for the occasion by World Champion cable car bell ringer Frank Ware–spared gripman duties for the ride just so he could make music. A regular Cal cable car followed with other delegates and special guests.

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