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San Francisco in San Francisco City and County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Getting Around

 
 
Getting Around Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, December 18, 2014
1. Getting Around Marker
Inscription. The clangor of their coming and going comprised a contrapuntal symphony of cosmopolis. -- Lucius Beebe, Cable Car Carnival

(text on the horizontal surface)

Getting Around San Francisco, 1860's & 1870's
Mostly surrounded by water with hills that remain a dare, San Franciscans have embraced the challenge of getting around. Step off the transcontinental railroad and onto the Oakland ferry to greet San Francisco from the water. From the Ferry Depot take a cable car up California, or a horse car down Market, or climb into a hack for hire to arrive in style, luggage stowed above. Horse-cars - looking like future cable cars - were pulled by teams along fast tracks laid on city streets, only avoiding hills. Blacksmith Henry Casebolt invented a horse-car carriage that could pivot in a circle on wheels that remained in place. On lines not blessed with ballon cars, horse-car crews recruited passengers to get out and push their car onto a turntable and rehitch the horses. For every ten citizens, somewhere in the city a horse was hard at work, pulling a wheeled vehicle. The 1880 census counted 233,959 San Franciscans; estimated 23,00 horses.

Hallidie's Cable Car Conquers Hills, 1873
A canny Scot, Andrew S. Hallidie made a comfortable living from manufacturing steel
Getting Around Marker (detail) image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, December 18, 2014
2. Getting Around Marker (detail)
Captions: (left) "If it pleases Providence to make a car run up and down a slit in the ground... and if for two-pence half-penny I can ride in that car, why should I seek reasons for that miracle?" - Rudyard Kipling in San Francisco, 1889; (right) Hanging On: The Last Satisfying Run Down Market Street, June 1913.
cables; made of six strands of nineteen steel wires each. His aerial tramways carried gold and silver bearing ore down from Sierra mines. But Hallidie had in mind a way to run horse-cars without horses. He saw an endless wire cable to be concealed underground, to which cars could be attached, like ore buckets on a tramway. In 1873, on a foggy August 1st, a 5:00 a.m. (too early for passerbys to be injured if his grip failed), Hallidie left his backers gathered at the top of Jones and Clay, to test drive the first cable car. It descended down Clay Street into the dense damp fog. Backers strained to hear the crash below, instead they heard the now familiar humming sound from the cable car slot, as Hallidie ascended, triumphant from the mist. His newfangled idea worked; 25 brave souls rode the world's first cable car up a steep city hill.

Horse-car Cable Car Street Car 1890-1910
By 1890 eight cable car systems reached North Beach, the Presidio, and Seal Rock. Lucius Beebe put it best: "Horse cars, cable cars and steam trains operated over an amazement of geographic locales. crossing, meeting, receding, shuttling, connecting and converging upon one another like dancers. They wove back and forth across each other's lines like the warp and woof of a gigantic fabric: the clangor of their coming and going, ascending and descending; rattling over cobbles, Belgian
Getting Around Marker (detail) image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, December 18, 2014
3. Getting Around Marker (detail)
Captions: (left) Electric Street Cars Arrive at the Ferry Building with the 20th Century.; (right) By 1930, the continuous circuit of street cars met every one of 43 ferries on the Bay. Only Charing Cross Station in London saw more foot traffic.
blocks, asphalt, macadam and steel switches comprised a contrapuntal symphony of cosmopolis." By 1900 any reasonable agile San Franciscan could switch at will from one track to another, from a horse car to cable car, and on to the electric trolley.

The 20th Century Arrives with a Great Shake
When the great 1906 earthquake destroyed four lines of cable car tracks down Market to the Ferry Building, electric cars moved in. Bigger, faster, and cheaper to install, the electric street car took over the first half of the 20th century. The busy street car loop in front of the Ferry Building carried more people more places - still only a nickel. Cable car slots ran down Clay Street to the waterfront; the lone Sutter Street horse-car trotted the ferry loop until 1913; interurban cars headed south to San Mateo. In 1918 ferryboat commuters had a cast-iron walkway bridge to make a safe last minute sprint over Embarcadero traffic. When automobiles threatened this lively scene in 1925, the dip-down tunnel took them under the busy loop and out the other side. It was cheap - fun - and it worked.
 
Erected by San Francisco Art Commission for the Waterfront Transportation Projects.
 
Location. 37° 47.633′ N, 122° 23.543′ W. Marker is in San Francisco
Working Drawing of a Way of Life: Getting Around Marker (detail) image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, December 18, 2014
4. Working Drawing of a Way of Life: Getting Around Marker (detail)
Caption: Al Tolf's Drawing of How It All Worked in the 1930's: Find the tunnel for motor-cars; the cast iron foot bridge for commuters; the interurban cars to the Penisula (sic); the tracks for the State Belt Line Freight Train.
, California, in San Francisco City and County. Marker is on The Embarcadero near Mission Street, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 109 The Embarcadero, San Francisco CA 94105, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Audiffred Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Splendid Survivor (within shouting distance of this marker); In Memory of Howard Sperry and Nick Bordoise (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Big Strike (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Splendid Survivor (about 600 feet away); Signs of History (about 600 feet away); Freeway Supports (about 700 feet away); Klebingat Recalls The City Front (about 700 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in San Francisco.
 
Categories. Railroads & Streetcars
 
Getting Around Marker (detail) image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, December 18, 2014
5. Getting Around Marker (detail)
1956 San Francisco New cartoon. Caption: When a "Big Sub" was making up time on a straight strike of track, it could make a wound-up 1914 Stutz look like it wasn't going anywhere.
Getting Around Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, December 18, 2014
6. Getting Around Marker
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 284 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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