San Franciscans are very proud of their Cable Cars. You can learn about the fascinating history behind their creation, their almost extinction and their rebirth as a city treasure at the Cable Car Museum, and there's not even a fee for this brilliant information.
When you walk in you're greeted by the smell of grease and machinery, and if you pop downstairs you'll see the 'Sheave room' which is where the big wheels that change the cables directions are hidden away. It's funny when your'e standing there to think of all the cables running beneath your feet transporting people all over the city.
Cable cars are different from trams or trolley cars as they are powered by cables running under the street not by electricity. San Francisco is the only place where they still run as part of the public transport system. The inventor of the cable car Andrew Smith Hallidie invented the first cable car that was used in the city, and there's a car from one of the first fleets that was in operation on display at the museum.
There are four lines in operation today: California, Mason, Powell and Hyde. The California line has the most cable length of the four, then Hyde, then Mason followed by Powell as the shortest. The cables move at 9.5 miles an hour.
The museum taught me all of this and more. It also told me the inspiring story of how the people of the city banded together to save the cable cars from extinction. Frieda Klussman who is also known as the cable car lady led the protesters against plans to get rid of the cable cars, and they were successful.
Some of the images really give you an idea of just how long the cable cars have been in operation. There was also lots of information about how the cars work and about different times of their use in San Francisco's history.
A visit to the Cable Car Museum is definitely worth it. Even if you don't spend very long there it's interesting to see how the cable cars were invented, and became such an icon of the city. It's certainly changed my understanding of them, and I think of the history every time I hear the ding ding ding of their bells.