27 Facts on Those SF Icons – Cable Cars

Cable cars are an iconic fixture of San Francisco, as much an instantly recognizable emblem of the city as the Golden Gate Bridge. Love ‘em or not so much love ‘em, they’re here for the long haul of history — despite attempts to have them more short lived.

On January 17th we celebrated Cable Car Day with some bell-ringing fan fare and pageantry, and sf.curbed.com put out a story on 27 facts about our SF cable cars you probably didn’t have memorized.

Here’s a few:

  • The first SF cable car line started September 1, 1873, servicing Clay Street.
  • The cost for the Clay Street line: $85,150, about $1.64 million nowadays.
  • The original cable car was actually two cars, the “dummy car” that gripped and breaked on the line, and the passenger car behind it. San Franciscans kept jumping into the dummy car to catch a ride so the engineers combined the two.
  • Before the 1906 great earthquake there were over 600 cable cars roaming SF streets. That number shrank to 100 by 1912. Now, there are 40.
  • The first bell-ringing competition was at Union Square in 1949.


Click here to check out the rest of the facts.

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