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Celebrating 150 Years of Cable Cars

SFMTA.com/CableCars150
November Fire Recordings is showing their documentary, "San Francisco Cable Cars" with two showings at the 4 Star Theater in San Francisco on Sunday, June 18 (4:00 and 7:00).

July 2023-December 2023

The distinct ringing of the bells, the vintage wooden interiors, and the breathtaking views of the city make riding a cable car a quintessential San Francisco experience.

First introduced in San Francisco on August 2, 1873, by Andrew Smith Hallidie, a Scottish-born engineer and inventor, the introduction of cable cars revolutionized urban transportation as a practical means of traversing steep hills. These early cable cars were an immediate success and played a crucial role in the growth and development of San Francisco.

The historical significance of cable cars lies not only in their innovative engineering but also in their enduring presence and resilience. Over the years, cable cars have survived earthquakes, fires, and other challenges, symbolizing San Francisco's ability to overcome adversity.

Information on the $5 Hop On/Hop Off Fare (July 1 – December 30)
We are celebrating Muni’s oldest surviving cable car line with a special $5 all-day pass for only the California line starting on July 1 and lasting through the end of 2023. Available via MuniMobile, this pass will let riders hop on and hop off anywhere on the California line for the entire day without paying an additional fare.   

We also offer a $13 all-day, all-Muni pass, giving unlimited access to all Muni services, including all three cable car lines, the F-line historic streetcars on Market Street and the waterfront, plus all Muni Metro trains and all Muni bus lines.

Innovation to Icon: 150 Years of Cable Cars Exhibit
A collaboration between the SFMTA and the San Francisco Public Library, “Innovation to Icon: 150 Years of Cable Cars” is a visual journey through time that brings to life the incredible 150-year history of San Francisco’s beloved cable cars. Combining historic photographs, original documents, and unique ephemera from the San Francisco History Center and SFMTA Photo Archive, this exhibit showcases the spirit, ingenuity, and timeless allure of a city icon.

Take a virtual journey through cable car history

For more information on the citywide events, visit SF Cable Cars, a collaborative effort organized by Market Street Railway and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, with participation from Chinatown Merchants Association, Chinese Historical Society of America, Downtown SF Partnership, Fisherman’s Wharf Merchants Association, Friends of the Cable Car Museum, Pier39, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, San Francisco City Guides, San Francisco Historical Society, San Francisco Public Library, SF Travel, SF Heritage, and Union Square Alliance.

Special Cable Car Service: 

  • Daily, 7am to 11pm: Climb “halfway to the stars” nearly anytime on the Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason, or California Street Lines. Starting July 1st, there is a special $5 all day, hop-on/hop-off pass for the California Street Line. Visit a kiosk or use the MuniMobile app to buy this special pass. 
  • Saturdays, June 17- October 28, 11:15am to 7pm: Ride Cable Car 19, the largest & oldest cable car in the fleet along the California Street Line. This car originally ran on Market Street from 1888 to 1906 and came back in service for special events only after 77 years off the rails. 
  • First Sunday of Each Month, July 2-October 29, 10:30am to 7pm: Ride 1891 Cable Car 42 along part of its original line up and down the Hyde Street hill. This car was restored to its 1906 appearance, including hand-applied gold leaf detail work. It has not been in regular service since 1954.

Learn more: 

  • SF Main Public Library: Visit the main branch to dig into books for both children and adults with nearly 30 titles available for check out or as in-library research. Visit the San Francisco History Center to uncover even more about our cable cars from newspaper clippings, photographs and maps. 
  • SFMTA Photo Archive: Spend some time over at our virtual photo archive where there are thousands of historic photos documenting our city’s public transit history online. 
  • San Francisco Railway Museum: Open Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 5pm at 77 Steuart Street (between Market and Mission). This museum, run by the Market Street Railway non-profit, is your one-stop shop to learn about San Francisco’s transit history. Located right on the F Market & Wharves line
  • Cable Car Museum: Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am to 5pm on Washington & Mason streets. The museum is housed within the cable car powerhouse, where you can see the machinery that runs the cars from above and below.

Bookmark our celebration page (SFMTA.com/CableCars150) to learn more!