5¢ Fare per Ride
Hallidie and His Inspiration
On a soggy San Franciscan day in the summer of 1869, Andrew Smith Hallidie witnessed a horrifying accident. Hallidie, who had immigrated to America from England with his father in 1852, watched helplessly as a horse-drawn streetcar slid backwards while attempting to crest a hill. Unable to get their footing on the slippery slant of the cobblestones and pull their heavy burden, the five horses were dragged to their deaths. Unfortunately, this kind of incident was all too common. Thankfully, Hallidie and his associates saw the solution to this disturbing problem in cable cars.
On August 2, 1873, Hallidie successfully tested the first cable car system. Soon, new-and-improved railways would be created and run by companies in prominent cities across the country.
So, why travel by cable car?
In addition to sparing countless horses extremely arduous (and sometimes deadly) labor, cable cars provide a smoother way to travel over various types of terrain. Though slow, cable cars dutifully transport city-dwellers to and from destinations for a fair fare. As Harriet Harper stated in 1888,
"If any one should ask me what I consider the most distinctive, progressive feature of California, I should answer promptly, its cable-car system. And it is not alone its system which seems to have reached a point of perfection, but the amazing length of the ride that is given you for the chink of a nickel. I have circled this city of San Francisco, I have gone the length of three separate cable lines (by means of the proper transfers) for this smallest of Southern coins."