Cable Cars
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Cable Cars history, routes pictures and museum, San Francisco


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The Cable Cars of San Francisco are one of the biggest attractions of San Francisco. It is difficult to believe that in a glittering mega-city and modern place like San Francisco, a historically important and old-styled cable cars co-exist and run next to multi-storied buildings. That proves that the city of San Francisco values it's heritage. These cable cars were designated as historic landmarks by the National Park Service in 1964. Do not miss taking pictures next to these famous attractions.

The Cable Cars weigh about 6 tons each and are guided by an intricate system of pulleys. They are hauled by a cable under the street in a center rail driven by over 500 horsepower electric motors, which push them at a constant speed of 9.5 miles per hour. Once the most popular form of public transportation for early San Franciscans, the cable cars have become a major tourist attraction of San Francisco. They are one of the best ways of exploring the city since they pass through many well known sights - Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, North Beach, Union Square and Chinatown.

Cable Cars PicturesCable Cars History:
One would think what triggered the idea of cable cars at the very first place and when. It all started in 1869 when Andrew Hallidie, owner of a wire-rope factory for mines, saw the death of five horses as a horse-drawn streetcar slide backwards due to heavy load. He decided to use his experience and with the backing of city and financers he constructed the first cable railway in 1873. At one point there were eight transit companies operating 600 cars covering over 50 miles on 21 routes. This trend spread to other cities too which abandoned horse drawn cars for electrically driven powered cars.

Cable Car Routes and Popular Attractions to see:
You have to buy cable car tickets each time you ride it. So if you plan to ride them multiple times, it is a good idea to buy a Muni PASSPORT which will save you money and you will not have to pay over and over for the tickets. Each cable car usually takes less than sixty passengers at a time and operating hours are usually 6:00 a.m. to a little over midnight. The San Francisco cable cars run on three routes -

This line runs north and west, from Market and Powell to Aquatic Park. Popular attractions it also passes by are Lombard street, Union Square, Ghirardelli Square and Cable Car Museum.

California Street:
This line runs from Drumm Street to Van Ness Avenue. Popular attractions you can visit on this route are Chinatown, Nob Hill and Financial district.

This line goes from Market and Powell to Bay and Taylor Streets. You can use this to see North Beach and the famous Fisherman's Wharf where it ends.

San Francisco Cable Cars MuseumRiding Cable Cars:

This is the best place to learn how the Cable cars work. Not only does the museum preserve history but it is also the powerhouse for the system. Admission to San Francisco Cable Car Museum is free. It s located on the Mason Street and has a collection of photographs and mechanical displays. You will also see many historic cable cars and is run by a nonprofit organization. The Museum is closed on New Year's Day, Christmas, Easter Sunday and Thanksgiving. Operating hours are between 10:00 AM to 6:00 P.M. ( until 5:00 PM in winters). Please visit and for the latest information. 

Cable Cars Tour

There are several cable car tours that are available for visitors. Travelers can seat while some hang on the leather straps or stand on the outer running boards. However, if you want to take pictures, it is best that you take a bench seat since your hands are free.

San Francisco Holiday Lights Tour by Cable Car
Celebrate the holidays in San Francisco while riding a refurbished cable car. Riding the San Francisco famous cable cars is a great experience especially during the Holiday season. The cable car will pass through the beautiful sights and dazzling lights. The ride is great for families, friends and couples to get the holiday cheer.
Wearing your Santa hat and sing along with holiday themed songs while riding an authentic car from the 19th century is a great experience you should not miss. The journey usually starts in the Fisherman’s Wharf and from there you will get a firsthand look of San Francisco during the holidays.

All the fun travel is available for thirty dollars and it is great for everyone.

San Francisco City Pass
This is probably the best deal you can get while you are in San Francisco. You can save up to $65 on four attractions in just one City Pass. The City Pass includes tickets to most main attractions that are found in San Francisco. You can visit the Exploratorium in Pier 15, San Francisco Bay Cruise and seven days unlimited use of San Francisco cable cars.
If you are planning to stay for a week in San Francisco, you may plan getting this pass because this will save you more. Likewise, you will definitely enjoy more because you can explore a lot without breaking your pockets.

Nob Hill walking tour in San Francisco with Optional Lunch
The Nob Hill area is associated with the upper class. Taking the guided walking tour here will allow you to admire the neighborhood’s greatest distinctive landmarks, which include the Mark Hopkins Hotel and Fairmont Hotel. The Huntington Park as and the Grace Cathedral are also in the area. Exploring the area will make you amaze with the posh mansions exclusive hotels and the rich history of the area. You can surely enjoy the ride to famous cable car and a great lunch at Nob Hill Café.
The tour is available at around $40 dollars.

Walking Tour of Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach with Cable Car Ride and an optional Alcatraz ticket
This walking tour of Fisherman’s Wharf is probably the most popular tour among the rest. You will definitely enjoy the everything the San Francisco has to offer. Tourists can enjoy the romantic view of Golden Gate Bridge and the very famous Washington Square in North Beach. You can also see the top attractions like Coit Tower, Lombard Street and you will have the option if you want to see the Alcatraz Island. After the tour, you can receive the ticket to ride the cable cars.

The guided tour last for two hours and you can definitely enjoy the best attractions San Francisco has to offer.
If you take the Alcatraz option, the tour guide will accompany you to the Alcatraz ferry landing for you to see the Rock. Alcatraz is the former popular penitentiary that had housed ruthless criminals like Al Capone. Visiting the area will allow you to see the Alcatraz lighthouse and hear the actual audio tour.

How do Cable Cars Work?
Each cable car is staffed by two individuals: conductor and grip person. Conductor sells tickets and sees after passengers while the grip person runs the cable car.

There different sets of levers and handle latches in the car that moves continuously under the street. To stop the cable, the gripe person releases the cable and put the brakes. The hard part is doing this smoothly since the grip person is also the bell ringer, signaling the car’s approach.

How to Get Off the Cable Car?
Getting off the cable may sound easy however, it is not really easy. If you are getting off in the last route that will be easy. However, if you are getting off in the middle of the route, let us say in the Chinatown or North beach that will not be easy. Make sure that you let the gripman as well as the conductor know that you are getting off in those places.

If you want the cable car to stop, you have to say it aloud by saying, “Next stop, please.” Remember, cable cars may take awhile to halt so say it early enough or if you want, you can wait on the next stop.

Tip of the day
Tip #12. Learn at least some commonly used words of the local language. Even saying 'thank you' will usually impress them. Example of some common words are listed below.
Thank you. Sorry, I cannot speak your language, I speak English. I need a taxi. I need a doctor. Where is Bank. Where is Hotel. I need water. etc..

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