1869 -- Benjamin H. Brooks, a San Francisco attorney acquires a franchise
from the city to construct a "wire cable railway." Brooks
and his engineer laid plans for a line on Clay Street, but fail to
attract investors for their " Russian Hill Cable Railway Co."
In 1872, they sold their franchise to Andrew S Hallidie for a "nominal
first model of Hallidie designed cable car system was placed on exhibition
at the Mechanics Fair in San Francisco, 1871. The 'endless wire rope'
attracted a great deal of attention.
16, 1872- San Franciscan
Andrew Smith Hallidie patents (Patent No. 129,130) successfully
the first cable car.
27, 1873 - Clay Street Hill Railroad installs its first cable. This installation
was the first time ever for such an installation. As late as three days
previously, line’s tracks and slot were out of tolerance largely because Clay
Street’s paving blocks were jammed against the trackage.
27, 1873 - The Clay Street Hill Railroad's first cable is installed.
30, 1873 - Kimball Manufacturing Company (San Francisco) delivers the Clay Street
Hill Railroad’s first four trailers, joining the home-built prototype dummies
already on the property. Each prototype dummy was different, and all were
out-of-service in a few months being replaced by standard production dummies.
The prototype dummies were then stored at the company’s Clay & Leavenworth
facility. Later, some were transferred to Washington-Mason. All were destroyed in
the 1906 holocaust.
August 2, 1873 - First cable car line in the world has
successful experimental trip (from Jones to Kearny
via Clay Street),
at in the morning with Andrew Smith
Hallidie the inventor operating the car.
September 7, 1873 - Hallidie had a busy Autumn in addition to his
duties with the Clay Street Hill Railroad. "Complete returns of the election in
this city (San Francisco) show the choice of Philip A. Roach, Anti-railroad
Democrat, to the State Senate, instead of A.S. Hallidie, Independent" -- New York Times
January 27, 1877 - The Sutter Street Railroad
starts cable car operation (converted from horse car) on Sutter
Street from Larkin to Sansome (Market
Clay Street Hill Railroad line extended westward from Leavenworth
to Van Ness Avenue.
1877- The California Street Cable Railroad Company (Cal Cable)
starts construction of its line Kearny to Fillmore Street. This company
was known as the California Street Railroad from 1876 until
it was reorganized as a result of the June 1884 purchase of Leland
Stanford's interest by Antoine Borel and associates
April 10, 1878 - The California Street Cable Railroad
Company (Cal Cable) opens, Kearny to Fillmore Street, a distance
of 1.7 miles. More than 6,000 people attended the inaugural ceremonies.
Franchise granted on California Street from Kearny to First Avenue.
Franchise from Central Avenue to First Avenue ultimately sold to the
Ferries & Cliff House Railway.
- The Sutter Street Railroad converts Larkin Street line from
Sutter to Hayes (Market Street) to cable from horse car.
May 5, 1879 - Cal Cable extends .8 mile from
Fillmore Street west
to Central (Presidio) Avenue.
June 14, 1879 - The Sutter Street Railroad
extends its Sutter Street
line west from Larkin Street
to Buchanan. Temporary steam dummy shuttle Buchanan to Central (Presidio)
10, 1879 - The Sutter Street Railroad extends its Sutter
Street line west from Buchanan to Central
1879 - The Sutter Street Railroad receives new 50-year charter,
changes name to Sutter Street
January 30, 1880 - The Sutter Street Railway
formally taken over by new owners R.F. Morrow & Associates from
former owner Henry Casebolt.
February 16, 1880 -
The Geary Street Park & Ocean began operation from
Kearny & Market Streets to Central (Presidio) Avenue. It was the first San
Francisco street railway to accept cash fares -- 5-cents. Previously, only tickets
were accepted for fares. These were sold in varying amounts at railway outlets.
1882 - The Presidio & Ferries Railroad (the Union
Street line) opened for paying passengers.
Cable service operated from Washington & Montgomery (Columbus)
Avenue to Steiner & Union.
The Sutter Street Railway rerouted Larkin
Street line from Sutter via Polk, Post,
Larkin across Market on 9th Street
August 21, 1883 - The Market Street Cable
Railway opens from the Ferry its Valencia
Street line to Mission
Street and Haight
Street line to Golden
1883 - The Market Street Cable Railway starts McAllister line
to Golden GatePark
– Leslie Ransom receives U.S. patent for rebar. When it became
clear that reinforcement was needed in concrete construction Ransom
obtained used frayed cables from San Francisco’s cable car companies
and laid them in the forms prior to pouring the concrete. From these
experiments Ransom designed and patented rebar – the reinforcing
steel that is still used in construction.
June, 1884 - Swiss San Francisco banker Antoine Borel
purchases from Leland Stanford the California Street line changing the name
from California Street Railroad to California Street Cable Railroad.
June 30, 1884 - Telegraph Hill Railroad
line) often mistakenly credited as a cable car operation begins service.
The system was a funicular railway. Unlike Hallidie’s system in which
cars attach and detach from a constantly moving cable, the Telegraph
Hill line had two cars permanently attached to either end of a cable.
Service stopped after a disastrous wreck, 1887.
May 20, 1886 - The Market Street Cable Railway
opens Hayes Street
line to Golden GatePark
- Sutter Street Railway extends
its crosstown Larkin Street
line from Mission Street
via 9th Street
- Market Street Cable Railway
gains control of Geary Street,
Park & Ocean Railroad, but operate it separately from its
28, 1887 – Powell Street Railway (before it opens)
is purchased by the newly incorporated Ferries & Cliff House
Railway for cash, bonds, stocks and other personal and financial
February 27, 1888 - Market Street Cable
Railway opens Castro cable, Valencia & Market to 26th &
Castro, with through service to the Ferry.
March 28, 1888 - The Ferries & Cliff
House Railway Company (also called the Powell Street Railway)
begins service on Powell Street
from Market to Jackson.
April 5, 1888 - Ferries & Cliff House
Railway Company opens Powell & Mason line to Bay & Taylor.
(This route has never been changed.) At the same time, the company
the opened the Jackson Street
via Powell line from Powell & Market to Central (Presidio) Avenue
& California serving the Western Addition via Jackson
outbound and Central Avenue,
Washington and Powell inbound.
Ferries & Cliff House Railway purchases Hallidie’s
Clay Street Hill Railroad
to gain access to the FerryBuilding — at the time,
the most important public transportation terminal on the West Coast.
September 19, 1888 - Ferries & Cliff
House Railway starts its fourth line known both as Ferries &
Cliff House line or Sacramento
line. The line ran from the Ferry via Sacramento
to Powell, Jackson hence
to Central Avenue & California. Returning via Central
Avenue, Jackson, Steiner,
Washington Streets, Stockton, Clay
to the Ferry. This line alternated with the Jackson
Street via Powell line. Eastern terminal
of former Clay Street Hill Railroad was now cut back to Powell from
Kearny with transfer privileges
to Sacramento line and
both Powell lines.
28, 1888 - Sutter Street Railway extends its crosstown line
north from Sutter via Polk, Pacific Avenue to Divisadero. Cable train
tests were made three days previously.
May 18, 1889 - The Board of Supervisors grants
Cal Cable the franchise for the O'Farrell, Jones & Hyde
line and the Jones Street Shuttle cable lines.
August 26, 1889 - Omnibus Railroad &
Cable Company opens three lines. The Post
Street line ran from Market via Post, Leavenworth,
City Hall Avenue,
Grove, Polk, 10th Street
to Howard. Howard & 24th Street
(Yellow line) ran from the Ferry via East
Street (Embarcadero), Howard, 24th
Street to Potrero
Avenue. Howard & 26th Street (Blue
line) same 24th Street
line except continued on Howard to end at 26th
November 2, 1889 - the Omnibus Railroad
& Cable Company opens two additional lines. The Oak
Street line ran from Howard via 10th
Street, Fell, Franklin,
Oak, Stanyan to Haight (Golden GatePark). The Ellis line ran
from Market via Ellis, Broderick, Oak, Stanyan to Haight (Golden
The cable for the new Ellis Street
line was 28,400 feet long weighing 72,000 lbs., manufactured by California
1889 - Sutter Street Railway is in the midst of reconstruction
its lines at a cost of $14,000 per block.
June 21, 1890 - North Beach & Mission
horsecar company announces plans to convert to a cable road at an
estimated cost of $2,000,000 for changes in equipment and construction
of roadbed. Never carried out.
26, 1890 – City Railway (Southern Pacific owned) receives
a franchise for a cable car line from 14th Street via Mission, West
Mission (Otis), 12th Street, Page, Masonic Avenue, Frederick to First
Avenue (Arguello). Cable trackage built but never operated as cable
from Market Street to First Avenue. Outer part of line reconstructed
for electric line service.
Cal Cable replaced its two-car trains with "California"
cars — a "double-ended" car with an enclosed middle section
and open sections at both ends. Cars with this design are still in
use on California Street.
February 9, 1891-Cal Cable opens crosstown
O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde Streets line and the Jones
Street shuttle from O’Farrell to Market
Street. These were the last entirely
new cable car lines built in the City.
June 28, 1891-Cal Cable extends its
line from Kearny Street east
to Market Street.
1891- City Railroad (under control of the Market
Street Cable Railway) builds
cable trackage from Baker Street
via Page, Masonic Avenue, Frederick
Street to 1st. Avenue. Never operated as cable service.
August 22, 1891-Presidio & Ferries
line) announces plans to extend its cable line westward into the Presidio
(and shorten its connecting steam dummy) at a cost of $250,000. New
bonds are to be issued to pay for the extension.
September 9, 1891-Ferries & Cliff House
Railway discontinues Clay Street Shuttle (Powell to Van
Ness Avenue) to create new Sacramento-Clay
November 2, 1891-Ferries & Cliff House
Railway opens Sacramento-Clay line from the Ferry via Clay, Larkin,
Sacramento to Walnut
Street. Return via Sacramento
direct to the Ferry. Ferries & Cliff House (Sacramento)
line now called "Jackson Street Line Via Sacramento-Clay"
rerouted to run from the Ferry via Clay Street,
Mason, Jackson, Central Avenue
to California. Returns
via Central, Jackson, Steiner, Washington, Stockton, Sacramento to
the Ferry.The line’s 1903 schedule shows all service to Ferry until
10:01½ a.m. (California), then alternate service with Jackson Street
via Powell cars. After
and Sundays all service Powell-Jackson. No
Jackson Street via Powell service before
10: "Cars via Powell indicated by
12, 1891 - Market Street Cable Railway Market & Valencia
cable car No.24 is wrecked when it hits a Southern Pacific Railroad
train at that company’s Valencia Street crossing.
12, 1892 - Ferries & Cliff House Railway and Cal
Cable are ordered by the Board of Supervisors to put a signal
box to control cable car traffic at Hyde (for Cal Cable’s
O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde line) and Sacramento (for the F
&CH Sacramento-Clay line). At this time Sacramento Street
was the inbound street, Sacramento cable cars could only stop in the
in the intersection of Hyde Street because of the crown in the street
A similar situation held for northbound Hyde Street cars, cars of
both lines had to stop in the middle of the intersection. The tower
destroyed in the ‘06 fire and not replaced since now Sacramento
Street was now the outbound street and Sacramento cable cars now stopped
at Hyde Street nearside (east of the intersection).
26, 1892 - A Cal Cable California Street car hits a Ferries
& Cliff House Railway Powell Street cable car, runs away
down Nob Hill stopping only after hitting a wagon at Montgomery Street.
4, 1892 - The Presidio & Ferries Railroad (the Union
Street line) is granted permission by The US Army to extend its cable
line into the Presidio Military Reservation.
9, 1892 - The Omnibus Railroad & Cable Company is sued
by the Johnstown Steel Company for patent infringement on the design
of their rails.
17, 1892 - Geary Street, Park & Ocean Railroad has construction
materials placed along side its line in preparation of rebuilding
and converting it to standard gauge.
6, 1892 - A Sutter Street Railway Larkin Street cable car
cuts in two the Market Street Cable Railways’ Market
9, 1892 - Market Street Cable Railway extends McAllister line
from Stanyan via D Street (Fulton) to between 7th and 8th Avenues.
26, 1892 - Geary Street, Park & Ocean Railroad line west
of Buchanan Street is closed to allow for reconstruction.
1892 - Cal Cable reports that during the first fourteen months
of operation the O’Farrell, Jones & Hyde line grossed $150,302.45.
The line carried, during this period, more than three million revenue
passengers for an average of 215,000 per month.
1892 - Cal Cable has destroyed, by a fire at its car builder’s
factory (J. Hammond & Co.), seven “California” style
cars that were under construction for the O’Farrell, Jones &
Hyde line. The fire engulfed the northern half of the block bounded
by Fremont, Howard, Beal, and Folsom Streets. Besides J Hammond &
Co. the fire destroyed the Fulton Iron Works and the Leon & Joseph
Greenberg Brass Foundry that made the castings for Hammond built cars.
Ironically, the saloon at the corner of Howard and Fremont was saved
with only the rear wall scorched.
1892 - Market Street Cable Railway receives two franchises
to build a cross-town cable line from Mission Street via 30th Street,
Church & Fillmore Streets to Harbor View (Marina). Line never
built, only limited cable trackage built on Church Street 18th to
20th Street and cable crossings at 15th & 24th Streets and cable
crossing at Fillmore and Jackson. No construction after January 1,
3, 1892 - Market Street Cable Railway receives a franchise
to build a cable line from Illinois Street via 16th Street, Market,
17th Street, Ashbury (Clayton), Clayton, Carl, Cole to Frederick.
Never operated as cable, cable trackage built only on 16th Street
from Church to Market Streets. Part of 16th Street used for electric
1892 - Market Street Cable Railway receives series of franchises
to build cable lines. These routes had no cable track construction;
parts later were incorporated in steam and electric lines service.
These franchises are from Fillmore via Turk, First Avenue (Arquello),
B Street (Balboa), 19th Avenue crossing D Street (Fulton) in Golden
Gate Park; from 7th Avenue via Fulton and D Streets to 19th Avenue;
Stanyan between Fulton and Hayes.
1892 - Presidio & Ferries Railroad extended its line from
Union and Steiner out Union
to Baker, Baker to Greenwich,
Greenwich into the Presidio
to a terminus near Presidio Blvd.
August 7, 1892 - Geary Street, Park &
Ocean Railroad is converted from 5'-0" gauge to 4'-8½"
(standard gauge) to allow Geary cars to operate on Market
Street trackage to the Ferry. This plan
was never carried out. Line extended from Central (Presidio) Avenue
via Geary, 5th. Avenue to D Street
(Fulton) Golden GatePark.
23, 1892 - Market Street Cable Railway receives franchises
to build a cable line from Potrero Avenue via 22nd Street, Chattanooga,
24th Street to Hoffman. Only cable trackage built cable crossing at
24th and Church Streets. Unique eastbound franchise from Chattanooga
via 24th Street, Dolores to 22nd Street. Subsequent electric line
trackage west of Howard (South Van Ness) to Hoffman.
23, 1892 - Market Street Cable Railway receives series of
franchises to build cable lines. These routes had no cable track construction;
parts later were incorporated into electric lines service or not built.
These franchises are from 17th Street via Castro, Ridley (Duboce),
Devisadero to Bay Street; from Devisadero via O’Farrell for
one-half block to planned car house; from 24th Street via Noe, Jersey
to car house at Castro (not built).
April 14, 1893 - Ferries & Cliff House
Railway sends Clay Street Hill Railroad grip car No. 8
and trailer No. 1 the Chicago World’s Fair. (No. 8 is on display at
the Cable Car Museum.)
August 5, 1893 - Omnibus Railroad & Cable
Company withdraws "Blue" Howard & 26th
September 21, 1893 - Press reports state that
a proposed consolidation (by Southern Pacific interests) of
the City's "leading street railways" will occur shortly
under the name of the San Francisco Cable Railway Co. with
a capital stock of $16,000,000. The Market Street Cable Railway
will hold controlling interest.
October 14, 1893 - Southern Pacific
creates the Market Street Railway (contemporary press accounts
often referred to the new company as the "Market Street Consolidated
Railway") by merging the Market Street Cable Railway,
Omnibus Railroad & Cable Company, Ferries & Cliff House
with three horsecar companies.
January 6, 1894 - Market Street Railway
assigns sixteen former Howard Street Omnibus cars to McAllister line
for Midwinter Fair. Cars remained on this line until Earthquake and
Fire of 1906.
February 19, 1894 - Market Street Railway extends Sacramento-Clay
line from Walnut Street via Lake and 6th Avenue to D Street (Fulton)
Golden Gate Park. On Sundays and holidays starting February 26 through
July 4 for the Midwinter Fair the two Jackson Street cable lines (Powell-Jackson
and Ferries-Jackson) are also extended. Connecting curves were installed
at Sacramento and Central Avenue. Weekday service continued as before
to the turntable at California and Central Avenue.
July 2, 1894 - The City grants to Adolph Sutro
a street railroad franchise for a line between Central
Avenue and the Cliff House area, with a
branch line to Golden GatePark. A purpose of the
line was to break the beach trade monopoly power of the Southern
Pacific's Market Street Railway, whereby the Market Street
Railway charged an extra 5¢ fare to transfer from that company's
cable car lines to its steam lines. At first Sutro insisted the new
line would be a cable line, he later opted for streetcar service that
began on Feb. 1, 1896.
February 17, 1895 -
The San Francisco Chronicle runs a cartoon, attacking the monopolistic
practices of the Market Street Railway, depicting an octopus wrapping its
tentacles around a San Francisco transit route map. It would be six years later
that Frank Norris would publish his anti Southern Pacific Railroad novel
The Octopus. At the time of the Chronicle
cartoon cable cars were the most important component of the Market Street Railway’s
November 11, 1895 - Market Street Railway
discontinues Ellis Street
January 2, 1896 - Market Street Railway
ends Oak Street
mid-February, 1896 - Alternate Market Street Railway
Sacramento-Clay cable cars cut back from Sixth Avenue and "D" Street (Fulton) to
the car house at Walnut and Sacramento Streets.
July 16, 1896 - Sutter Street Railway official notes
that yesterday (Sunday) the company’s Sutter Street line "carried 40,000 people,
and not one of these injured." The opening of the connecting (at Central Avenue)
Sutro Railroad electric line to the Cliff House combined with the
free transfer agreement between the two companies, which made it possible to
travel "from the Bay Front, to the Ocean for five cents" has "increased our (Sutter
Street Railway) receipts Three Hundred dollars per day." (From letter this date by
Johnson Reynolds to his sister.)
early-September, 1896 - The main shaft of the
Washington-Mason powerhouse failed. It was two weeks before service was restored on
the Powell-Mason, Powell-Jackson, Sacramento-Clay and Sacramento-Jackson cable car
March 25, 1897 - According to a dispatch under
the signature of C.P. Huntington the Market Street Railway
will start the conversion of the former Omnibus Post &
Tenth Street line from cable to electricity in April.
April 8, 1897 - E. P. Vining, General Manager
of the Market Street Railway, informs the
American Railway Journal that
no changes have been made or will "any immediate action be taken"
to convert to electricity the Post & Tenth Street cable line.
September 2, 1897 - The American Railway Journal
that the Market Street Railway "is preparing to change
its system into an electric road."
December 31, 1899 - Market Street Railway
discontinues the last of the former Omnibus cable lines;
Post and Howard lines.
November 4, 1901 - Market Street Railway
makes western terminal of Sacramento-Clay line again Walnut
Street. Twenty-seven cars are placed into
storage until after the Earthquake and Fire of 1906 when they are
assigned to the Powell Street
November 20, 1901 - Market Street Railway
extends McAllister line from 7th/8th Avenue
to 11th Avenue
to service an amusement park, the Chutes. Geary Street, Park &
Ocean Railroad line extended from 5th
Avenue & D Street to 11th
March 20, 1902 - Market Street Railway
merged with the Sutter Street Railway and two electric lines
to create the United Railroads of San Francisco (URR). San
Francisco now has three cable car operators-
Cal Cable, the UPresidio & Ferries (the Union Street line) the URR's now
100% owned subsidiary the Geary Street, Park & Ocean. With acquisition of
the Market Street Railway the URR acquired 60% of the GSP&O. Nine months earlier
the Syndicate had purchased 40% of the Geary line as a result of acquiring the
Sutter Street Railway.
November 6, 1903 - Geary Street, Park & Ocean
Railroad franchise expires, line continues on a day-to-day permit.
1904 - United Railroads replaces steam drive with electric drive for
its Hayes Street cable powerhouse that features a 270 kw motor and a 16-foot belt
wheel. Pull curve installed at Market and McAllister. (W.D. Chamberlin Notes 1903-1944, courtesy of Bob Townley)
17, 1906 - Last day of full cable car service on the following United
Railroads lines because of the Earthquake of April 18 and subsequent
fire: Sutter Street, Polk & Larkin Cross-town line (except Pacific
Avenue), Market & McAllister, Market & Haight, Market &
Hayes, Market & Castro (except between 18th and 26th Streets),
Market & Valencia, Jackson Street via Sacramento-Clay, Sacramento-Clay
west of Fillmore, and Powell-Jackson west of Steiner Street. Also,
last day for the Presidio & Ferries (Union