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Cable Car
Cable Car
Resource Typeimage
TitleCable Car
Coverage / Year1873 to 1906
DescriptionThe cable car is fifteen feet tall, eight feet wide, and twenty feet long. There are six two-person seats on each side. Its wooden seats are similar to bench seats found in a church. The cable car is made of wood-top and bottom with open sides. A hanging kerosene lamp is used to light the interior. There are also running boards twelve feet long on both sides. The cable car is painted red and gold with black trim. It is inscribed "State Street, # 5321 C.C.R.W."
InterpretationSan Francisco was the first city in the United States to have a cable car system, built by Andrew Smith Hallidie (1837-1900). it is still famous for its cable cars. Chicago, however, had the most extensive cable car lines. The first line was laid on State Street from Madison to Twenty-first Street and was opened to the public on January 22, 1882. Twelve years later there were eighty-six miles of track in the city, and 469 grip cars, each usually drawing two trailer cars. These first cars had a small, two-wheeled carriage, called a "monkey, " which ran on the overhead power line and was connected to the cable car by a flexible cable. Because streetcar operators often received severe electrical shocks while replacing the monkeys when they came off the power wire, a trolley pole was introduced which maintained a rolling contact with the electrical power-line. The grip cars ranged from twelve to thirty-three feet in length. Twenty passengers could crowd into the small cars, while the larger cars, with eight wheels, could accommodate thirty-eight passengers. The cable cars traveled at speeds of twelve to fourteen miles in outlying areas, By 1890 there were some 5, 000 cable cars running over more than 500 miles of track in the United States. An estimated four million passengers rode the cable cars annually. Cable cars were expensive and complex, demanding constant inspection and care. Inventors continued to search for a more efficient and cheaper mode of transportation. This cable car was manufactured by Chicago City Railway Company.
Lesson Plans / ThemesHow we learn about communities;
Learning Standards16 History; 10-12 Science; 13 Science, Technology and Society;
Author or CreatorChicago City Railway Company
SourceThrom, Edward. Popular Mechanics Picture History of American Transportation. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1952. The Rand McNally Encyclopedia of Transportation. Chicago: Rand McNally & Company 1976.
Subject / KeywordsChicago, Illinois; Cable cars; Trolley cars; Cable railroads; Rail transportation; Electric streetcars; Electric railroads
Collection PublisherMuseum of Science and Industry, Chicago;
Further InformationFor any further information related to this record, please contact the Collection Publisher. See for more information about this project.
Rights Management Statement
Resource Identifier30.1228
CONTENTdm file name46821151982002_CABLECAR.jpg
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