Bayside BEAt

Be Where It’s At

San Francisco is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities on the planet. Bayside Beat is here to keep you informed of the best places to see, where to eat, what to do, and where to lay down your weary head after an action-packed day—or night—on the town.

Riding the Cable Cars

No visit to San Francisco is complete without a ride on the iconic cable cars that climb up the vertiginous hills of the city. Of the twenty-three lines established between 1873 and 1890, three remain: two routes from downtown near Union Square to Fisherman's Wharf, and a third route along California Street.

The cable cars rely on cables running constantly beneath the road’s surface. The driver—or gripman—uses a lever to grip the cable to pull the car and its passengers up the hill. The gripman requires not only great strength, but also great skill. He needs to know where to release the cable to coast over crossing cables and points. The conductor works in close cooperation with the gripman, operating the brake at the rear of the car to prevent it from running out of control on the downward slopes.

The cable car terminus near Union Square

Although the cable cars are now mainly a tourist attraction, they’re still used by local commuters to get to and from work. The California Street line is particularly popular among commuters on weekdays.