Glen Hurlburt's

"Cable Car Concerto"

Listen to the Cable Car Concerto. You will need the QuickTime player to listen. If you don't have it, click the logo to left and download the free plug-in for your computer.

With 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.

Herb 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 cars."

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 The 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."

The label from a copy of the original record.

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Additional Text Copyright 2002-2011 by Walter Rice. All rights reserved.

Last updated 01-Jul-2011