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One of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco are the famed San Francisco Cable Cars. Also known as streetcars, the cable cars look like they were especially made for tourists, but were actually created out of a necessity. If you have walked around downtown, you'll know what we mean: the slopes are so steep, the cable cars in San Francisco are a necessity to drive up the hills.
The history of the San Francisco Cable Cars goes back to 1869, when Andrew Smith Hallidie, the owner of a wire-rope factory, was watching a five-horse team pull a heavy street car up one of San Francisco's steep hills. One horse lost its footing on the slick pavement and the weight of the street car dragged the horse team down the hill, killing them all.
This accident, together with his experience in the use of wire-rope for pulling cars in mines, brought Andrew Hallidie to build the first Cable Cars in San Francisco. It took until 1873 before the first cabled San Francisco streetcars started in operation. The system was used in several other cities, but most switched to electric streetcars, which became practical in the late 19th century.
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