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Before our modern transportation systems, cities in the United States were about as large across as the distance a person could walk. As technology advanced after the Civil War, the horse-bus became the preferred method of transportation and cities began becoming larger.
After witnessing a horsecar accident that resulted in the destruction of the animals, Andrew Smith Hallidie, a San Francisco resident, put his knowledge of Gold Rush ore mining using steel rope into use with the very first steam driven public transportation system.
On Clay Street in 1873, the first cable car was successfully put into action and began our ride through history. Hallidie's inspiration would soon become the transport for the country and the rest of the world. The 1906 earthquake and fire nearly ended its use, as did its consolidation and bribes to city politicians.
Finally, it took the leadership of a woman to save the last working lines in the world from a city seemingly resigned to live without its historic transport. Ride along on the ropes with historians and the people who still work with the cars everyday.
At over 140 years old, the San Francisco Cable Cars are a moving monument, a snapshot of nearly lost technology, a romance story, and the very heart of The City.