San Francisco’s World Famous Cable Cars

Cable cars were invented in San Francisco in 1873 by Andrew S. Hallidie. Today, only San Francisco has street-running cable cars like these. The system is a National Historic Landmark. Scroll down this page to see every one of the cable cars in today’s fleet. Click on any image to learn the story of that individual car.

Read about the history of cable cars, in San Francisco and around the world.

There are 40 cable cars used in regular service: 28 single-ended cars that run on the Powell Street lines and need a turntable to reverse direction; and 12 double-ended, slightly longer cable cars that run on the California Street line.

There are also unique “survivor” cable cars from lines that disappeared decades ago. These run on special occasions.

More than a dozen cable cars in today’s fleet are painted in the authentic liveries (paint schemes) they wore under different owners in the past 135+ years. These liveries are just how cable cars looked back then, made possible by a cooperative program between our history-preserving nonprofit organization, and SFMTA, the city public transit agency that owns and operates San Francisco’s cable cars and historic streetcars, as well as its buses and light rail vehicles.

Click on any cable car image below to see the history of that car and paint scheme.

Click here for a full roster list of all cable cars in today’s fleet.

Read about the history of cable cars, in San Francisco and around the world.

The Cable Car Fleet

(Dates signify periods when a cable car’s paint scheme originally appeared)

Powell Street Cable Cars

California Street Cable Cars

Unique Survivors from Vanished Lines