Tranquil Reverie

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Mobile Monument

She has the unique recognition of being one of the two mobile National Historic Landmarks in the United States. She has won many hard fought battles and has been a survivor of the test of time. She continues to charm the huge crowds that are constantly drawn towards her. Wondering who 'she' is? Scroll down to see how she looks...
Conceived by Andrew Smith Hallidie, the cable car that uses grips (a clamping device) was patented in January of 1871. San Francisco was the first city to roll out the cable car in 1873. A century later, this age old beauty still maneuvers her way through the sharp acclivity of the hilly terrain of a unique city. Manually operated by experienced grip men, the cable car has become an icon of San Francisco. Today, it is the only city in the world which continues to operate the cable car in the traditional manner!
In my opinion, a ride on the cable car tops the list of things to do in San Francisco. It's definitely not a tourist trap. It's a ride like no other in a city like none other!

The cable cars of San Francisco would have suffered a sad demise, like their siblings in other prominent cities but for the valiant effort of a band of like minded individuals who called themselves "The Citizens Committee To Save The Cable Car". Led by Friedel Klussmann, they waged a fiery battle against the government to restore this pride of San Francisco.

On an unusually bright and sunny day in San Francisco, I was queuing up at Market street to get aboard a cable car. Standing by a pole, hanging on the edge, I tried to imbibe the breathtaking vistas of this aesthetic city. At the end of the journey, that I will cherish for a long time to come, I concluded that there is probably no better way to explore San Francisco and experience her charm!

The Cable Car Museum is located on Nob Hill at the intersection of Washington and Mason streets. Established in 1974, with the intention of preserving the history of the cable cars, the museum takes you through a journey back in time. Visitors can see the actual cables which propel the cable cars and get a lesson or two about the lineage of this unique masterpiece.

Presently the Powell-Mason, Powell-Hyde and California Street are the three operational cable car routes. Although the cable cars are a part of the city transport network, the Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde cable cars are mainly used by tourists as they offer a ride through some of the most picturesque locales of San Francisco.

On reaching each end point, the single ended cable car is driven onto a turn table where it is manually rotated before heading off on yet another trip along the hilly slopes of a city bustling with activity. In the age of automated systems, and more so in the United States of America, the cable car is an aberration.