The cable cars in San Francisco have made their mark on not just the city, but pop culture as well. Learn how to ride these moving national historic landmarks.
There is nothing quite like riding a cable car up and down the hills of San Francisco. While they symbolize the early innovation that made the city iconic, the experience of riding a cable car is timeless. The cable car experience starts while waiting at the cable car turnarounds (at Powell or California and Market Streets) or along the routes, waiting for the cable cars to approach. Once you hop on the cable car, you can either find a seat or hold on to the handles as you hang on for the ride. The cable car gripmen handle the grips to move the cars. And let's not forget about the cable car bell ringing. You can hear it from blocks away. It's used to get the attention of intersecting traffic.
The cable cars are the world's last manually operated cable car system, a tramway whose cars are pulled along by cables embedded in the street. These right-out-of-the-Smithsonian cable cars were named a national historic landmark in 1964. Refurbished and equipped with new tracks, cables, turnarounds and cable propulsion machinery, they operate much as they did on Aug. 2, 1873 when Andrew S. Hallidie guided the first car down Clay Street.
Hours of operations for the cable cars are 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Monday through Sunday.