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San Francisco cable car system

Engineering In History

The San Francisco cable car system is the world's last manually operated cable car system. An icon of San Francisco, the cable car system forms part of the inter modal urban transport network operated by the San Francisco Municipal Railway. Of the 23 lines established between 1873 and 1890, only three remain (one of which combines parts of two earlier lines): two routes from downtown near Union Square to Fisherman's Wharf, and a third route along California Street. While the cable cars are used to a certain extent by commuters, the vast majority of their seven million annual passengers are tourists, and as a result, the wait to get on can often reach two hours or more.

They are among the most significant tourist attractions in the city, along with Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Fisherman's Wharf. The cable cars are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The cable cars are separate from San Francisco's heritage streetcars, which operate on Market Street and the Embarcadero, as well as from the more modern Muni Metro light rail system.

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