August 2, 1873 — In the wee small hours of a misty San Francisco night (they didn’t call the month “Fogust” back then, but it was), a new type of transit was about to be inaugurated. An endless wire rope clattered beneath Clay Street. An odd open vehicle sat on the rails at the top of the hill. Standing by was Andrew Smith Hallidie, a Scot who had experience using wire rope in the mining business, and was part of the team promoting this new technology, aimed at making horsecars obsolete.
In the early morning hours of August 2, 1873, Andrew Hallidie personally piloted his invention, the street cable car, over a precipice on Clay Street and launched a new era in street railroads. (There’s a free Zoom event August 2 at 6 p.m. talking about the cable cars and Hallidie. Details at the bottom of the post.)
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