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Jump Back in Time Reconstruction (1866-1877)

Screen shot from 'A trip down Market Street before the fire.'

San Francisco filmed from the front window of a moving Market Street cable car

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San Franciscan Andrew Smith Hallidie Patented the First Cable Car
January 17, 1871

It is called a cable car because the car is moved along by a loop of metal cable running continuously in a slot beneath the ground, powered by a steam-driven engine in a powerhouse. You can hear it moving if you are standing near a line. The cable car's first run started at the top of a 307-foot hill. A few nervous men climbed aboard the cable car, and with Hallidie at the controls, the car descended, arriving safely at the bottom.

With the success of the San Francisco line, other cities began putting in cable railway systems. But it is in San Francisco where they are most famous, where "little cable cars climb halfway to the stars," according to the famous song "I Left My Heart in San Francisco." Have you ridden a cable car?

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VIDEO CREDIT: "A trip down Market Street before the fire / [production company unknown].," 1905. Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress. Call Number FEA 7760.