San Francisco Sights to See
San Francisco is, with both intent and forethought no doubt, one of
the most eccentric and mixed metropoli on the planet. The town is heavily populated with
residents strongly opposed to anything commercial.
Yet, at the same time, it is also home to corporate headquarters of one of the world's
largest banks (Bank of America) and several other mega-companies.
Nowhere is this split personality more evident than, in of all places, the city's popular Cable Car rides.
Designated as official landmarks by the National Park Service
back in 1964, the cable cars go much farther back to San Francisco's heyday in the
1870's. Though long recognized as a genuinely inefficient means of transportation, over the
years, the cable cars have survived several attempts at decommissioning.
This is fortunate to the visitor. After all, when all is said and done, they're huge fun.
Fun? Yes? Expensive? Yes, again!
Prices range from $25-$50 for a one or two
hour guided ride. Short trips for a few dollars are also available.
They're crowded, but fun. All the cars are generally going to carry from 90
to 100 passengers and
they pack them in. Long lines of wannabe riders are always waiting to get on. The wait
can be anywhere from an hour to two hours or more.
However, despite the high price, the cramped space and the long wait,
riding them is an experience that more than makes up for the drawbacks...at least in
most visitors' minds. Passing within a foot of one another as they make their way around the city, the car's
tours encompass Ghiradelli
Square and Pier 39, views of the bay at the
Wharf and trips up and down the famed steep hills.
It's those hills that,at least in part, gave birth to the unusual
device; or so legend has it. London-born engineer Andrew
Hallidie (1836 - 1900) is said to have
been watching horses haul a carriage up one when the lead slipped. The
unfortunate animal took several others with him on a slide down the
hill. This event caused Hallidie to vow to replace them and four years
later, in 1873,
Visitors can easily get an idea of how the cars work simply by looking
down through the center of the street. They have no diesel engines and no electrical
motors. Just beneath the street is a cable that runs at a steady 9.5
miles per hour (5.4kph). When the operator pulls a lever that grabs
hold of the cable, off you go.
Those seeking a ride can hop on or off a car at Pier 41, Ghiradelli
Square and Union Square.
During the trip, best experienced close to the edge
and standing on the platform, according to afficianados, riders travel
over a large part of the
Rides move through Chinatown
and North Beach
(home of the topless club boom of the 60's), the waterfront, downtown,
the Palace of Fine Arts
and near the Golden Gate Bridge
and many more
spots in the fabled city by the bay. Seventeen miles of track still
remain along which the cars
designated as "moving
historical landmarks" move.
From their maiden run from the top of Clay Street in 1873, hence the
original name "Clay
Street Hill Railroad", to today's bustling city where it shares space with 300-horsepower SUVs and fuel efficient hybrid
cars, San Francisco's cable cars have added their own iconoclastic flavor to this most colorful and
to learn more about San Francisco.
The Lure of San Francisco
Cities of the World
How to Start a Home Based Travel Business in San Francisco or Anywhere