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San Francisco Cable Car Museum
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Visiting San Francisco Cable Car Museum

4.5 (100%) 30 votes

San Francisco Cable Car Museum

Feel the Power of Invention in the Iconic San Francisco Cable Museum!

Feel the Power of Invention in the Iconic San Francisco Cable Museum!

Historical Documentation

Historical Documentation

The first thing you will notice about the museum's building is that it only has two floors. At the top floor is where you will get to learn the museum's history, especially about its original companies. This is done using old pictures and paintings. You will find yourself getting lost in the museum's history especially about its origins and processes. You will learn how they managed to build the first cable car that is also considered to be an iconic piece of art. Furthermore, you will also learn more about the 1906 earthquake and fire that disrupted the power lines and distressed the company.

Historical Displays

Historical Displays

After getting to know more about the museum's history, stroll around and you will see three historic cars on display. You will also find tools used to maintain the cars along with the spare parts. Don't worry about not understanding them as you will get to learn about the function of the specific parts or tools from the historians at the site. Independent explores will also be able to explore by themselves as it is possible to feed your curiosity by reading the detailed signage next to the samples.

Live Cables

Live Cables

This is perhaps the most interesting part of the museum. Seeing the live cables in action is just mind-blowing. It will be quite a different experience when you closely observe the cables armed with the knowledge necessary to understand the processes involved. On the first floor, you will be able to look into the sheave room as it powers the cables. Furthermore, you will also learn the different sets of cables available in the room and their respective car routes.

Power Street Wheel

Power Street Wheel

You will learn that the four cables operating the SF car routes are called Hyde, Mason, California, and Powell. However, the most interesting part is that the Powell cable used to run both the Mason and Hyde cars before they were assigned their own cables! Of course, you will get to see the magnificent wheel in action as it pulls both cars around the city.

Sheave Viewing Room

Sheave Viewing Room

To get a bird's eye view of the room's operations, the museum offers a separate viewing room at the basement. You can take a peek at the iconic levels in action from the windowed viewing areas. We guarantee that you will be amazed by the 20th-century processes that are still alive and kicking up to this day. You will marvel at the science involved in transportation— we bet you will no longer take your commute for granted after a visit.

Gift Shop

Gift Shop

If you enjoyed the visit, why not stop by the gift shop to pick up a memento or some souvenirs? Grab some train memorabilia, a handful of postcards, or a history book to take home with you in order to commemorate your trip.

San Francisco Cable Car Museum Tips and Tricks

How to Get Tickets?

Visiting the museum is free of charge. You don't need a ticket to visit the historic monument as it is a non-profit educational establishment.

How To Get Around?

The only way to get around the museum would be to walk

What Should I Wear?

There is no specific dress code for visiting a museum. However, it is advisable to wear something you feel comfortable in. For those easily affected by loud noises, you can carry earplugs to shield your ears from the loud noises made by the old machinery.

San Francisco Cable Car Museum Facts

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the museum is between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm. The museum is open throughout the week, which means you are free to take a peek any time except during public holidays. Also, consider planning your visit during the daytime. Although you might find historians to guide you through the night, the majority of the cable cars do not function during the night, which means you might miss seeing the wheels in action.


US Dollar (USD)

Will I Need a Guide?

It is not necessary but it is possible to get a guided tour. The museum provides free tours during the day so schedule your trip early on if you wish to avail of this service. Visit the museum's official website to see the available tours and their scheduled times.

How To Get There?

If you are really excited to learn more about cable cars, why don't you start by riding to the museum in one? Take the Powell/Hyde or the Powell/Mason lines. Both lines will alight right outside the museum or at the corner of the Mason and Washington streets. Normally, these routes run between the Union Square or take a different route to Fisherman's Wharf but they will stop right in front of the museum eventually. Alternatively, you can also choose to use the public transport by getting off at the Clay Street and Mason Street bus stops.

Additional Info

Note that the museum is very strict about security and as a result, the security guards in the lobby will have to check your bags. Ensure that you do not carry with you anything that will disrupt your visit. Eating and drinking in the museum are also prohibited. Please make sure that you follow the right etiquette such as not touching artifacts and artworks

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