San Francisco’s Cable Cars: The Only Way to Travel
Apart from being a must-do experience for tourists, the cable cars were at one time literally the only way to travel to many parts of San Francisco. This is a city of hills, many of which were virtually inaccessible until the arrival of the cable car. Even in the 1940s, when attempts were made to replace the cars with more modern forms of transport, it was found that buses could not tackle the steepest hills so effectively.
We armed ourselves with a one day MUNI passport (giving access to buses and streetcars as well) and went off to see what it was all about.
A White Knuckle Ride
San Francisco Cable Car Museum
We rode the line to the end and jumped on a trolley bus (the cable car lines don’t join up at the ends so we were glad of the MUNI card). It was a wet day, and we passed much of the day riding around, to Fisherman’s Quay, to the bars of Columbus Street, and to the Cable Car Museum on Mason Street.
The Museum is housed in the historic powerhouse, and we spent some time watching the engines and winding wheels and peering into the basement where you can see the cables as they run beneath the street. We also learnt about the history of the cable cars and saw some of the vehicles that were in use in the 19th century.
Our final ride was on the California Line, which was considerably less crowded than the Powell-Hyde. It stopped close to the Embarcadero, giving us the chance to walk down to the Port Building and end the day with drinks at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant.