riders hanging out on either side in stereotypical San Francisco
fashion, Powell-Mason cable car No. 506 is being turned on the turntable
at Powell and Market, August 14, 1947. If Mayor Lapham had his way
buses would now be struggling on Powell Street.
Caen, San Francisco's foremost newspaper columnist, rumored it.
Roger Lapham, San Francisco's "infrequently beloved" businessman
mayor, confirmed it. Friedel Klussmann, the President of the San
Francisco Federation of the Arts, stopped it.
The issue was a simple one; should San Francisco in 1947 keep
the city-owned Powell Street cable cars running?
When victory was achieved in November 1947, Friedel Klussmann's
victory statement said it best, "It is wonderful to know that
San Franciscans appreciate their famous, efficient and safe cable
No visiting celebrity was permitted to leave town without being
interviewed by the local press on his stand in the great cable car
controversy. Cable car songs were sung in night clubs and music
halls. Cable car poems were written and recited at luncheons of
the service clubs. Polls were taken among visitors and tourists
in whose results the cables were invariably the town's No.1 attraction.
"Cable Car Print" dresses appeared at the Emporium and
Macy's. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt came to town and approved the salvage
of the cars. The support of teen-age organizations was enlisted.
School children's painting contests were inaugurated and a cable
car art show held in City of Paris.
In this environment Glen Hurlburt, a blind pianist, penned his "Cable
Car Concerto." A concert orchestra played the "Cable Car
Concerto." Hurlburt's "Concerto" cleverly takes us
on round trip ride on the Powell-Mason cable from Market Street
to the Fisherman's Wharf and back. Enjoy!
For more details about the 1947 cable car war, read
Cable Car Lady and the Mayor, the story of Friedel Klussmann's
historic successful battle that saved the Powell Street cable cars
against the forces of "progress."