Cable Car Advertising Images
by Walter Rice

A collection of cable car-related advertising images, scanned by Walter Rice.

Washington-Mason cable car 515 heads down Washington with a load of sailors on shore leave in 1945. Walter Rice collection.
How to prove to the world your car is a worthy hill-climber (at least once). Send mother and father and the kiddies up Powell Street in their new ’53 Chevy in front of Powell-Mason car No. 505. Cable car 505 (now No. 5), an 1894 Carter Bros. product, built for the Sacramento-Clay extension from Walnut Street to serve the Mid Winter Fair of that year in Golden Gate Park, is still climbing Powell Street. Yes, it was extensively rebuilt in 1956 and had rehabilitation work in 2002. The ’53 Chevy long since (most probably) has been parted out. Walter Rice collection.
This is when No.1 Powell Street meant Bank of America’s Day and Night office, and cable car passengers boarding at the world’s most famous turntable could take either a Powell-Mason grip for Bay & Taylor or a Washington-Jackson cable to Steiner Street. The then San Francisco-based Bank of America was the world’s largest bank "with resources of over $9 Billion." Walter Rice collection.

Powell-Mason cable car No. 509 is halfway around Market Street turntable. It will soon depart for another trip to Bay and Taylor Streets. With its white front, green sides and a Byllessby Market Street Railway shield the year is most likely 1938. In August 1995, No. 509, now numbered 9, would be retired from service and replaced in April 2000 with a brand new No. 9, which like the car depicted is in the Market Street Railway white front paint scheme. Like its predecessor the new No. 9 proudly boasts a Market Street Railway Byllessby shield in honor of the former operator of the Powell cable cars lines, 1921-1944. Walter Rice collection. May, 2006 Picture of the Month.

San Francisco, like the rest of America, is enjoying peacetime as depicted in this 1946 illustration of Washington-Jackson cable car No. 519 being pushed off of the world's most famous turntable. Unlike today passengers could board the car on the turntable, which added to the weight as it was being pushed off. However, passengers often helped push the car off the turntable. Some riders would get on while the car was coasting on to the turntable. The block between Market and Ellis Street was open to automobile traffic. Cars were, also, parked in the curb lane making that block more difficult for the gripman of half a century ago than those of today.

The turntable depicted was the original turntable being placed into service by the Ferries and & Cliff House Railway (Powell Street Railway) March 28, 1888. Powell Street cable car service would be suspended from May 1 to May 14, 1950, for the installation of a new turntable. The current turntable at Powell and Market is the fourth turntable.

Walter Rice collection.

This most interesting artistic impression of outbound Powell-Mason cable car No. 5, an 1895 product of the Carter Bros., which shown here about turn onto Columbus Avenue from Mason Street combines accuracy with unique colors. Given the car being numbered 5 instead of 505 and the configuration of the track implies the Columbus Avenue trackage is in the center of the street, the era would be between 1973 and 1982. Walter Rice collection.
In 1953, an O'Farrell, Jones and Hyde cable, by then operated by the Muni, is about to descend down the Hyde Street hill. Walter Rice collection.
United Airlines knew how to promote its service. "Look daddy and mommy, there is a cable car!" Free stopovers only allowed on first-class tickets, but all seats only 2 abreast. United ran this ad in May 1954, however May 15, 1954 was last day the California Street line ran to Presidio Avenue. Walter Rice collection.
The cable car and the city’s bridges are part of the many icons of San Francisco as shown by this 1955 ad for Four Roses whiskey. In some of the prior ads, I previously posted, the artist has taken license with bridge location. Here we have an ascending Nob Hill westbound California Street cable car without a gripman. Where was California Street cable car gripman Val Lupiz? The design of the auto is interesting too. Note too, the artist has omitted the "SP" sign from No. 1 Market Street -- forty years before the Union Pacific take over. Walter Rice collection.
The header on this early 1950s advertisement reads "ENJOY THE BEST AMERICA HAS TO OFFER." Product was "Old Taylor 86 -- America’s finest Kentucky bourbon." To prove their point that their bourbon is America’s best, Old Taylor selected the San Francisco icon California Street cable cars to emphasis without question the merit of Old Taylor 86. Would Roger Lapham drink to that? Walter Rice collection.

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Copyright 2006 by Walter Rice. All rights reserved.

Last updated 01-May-2006