It would be neither possible nor acceptable to tell the story of San Francisco without some account of how her “peculiar institution,” as it has been called, came into being over a century ago.
Added interest in this phase of the city’s history stems from the fact that, if the cable car is to die, (which is not at all evident) it will have to die where it was first born – in the United States – for San Francisco is the only city in the entire world with cable cars, strictly so called.
Local residents speak with affection of their “Ride on the Rope” while a few others have, seemingly, developed a sort of love-hate relationship toward the little cars as they loudly proclaim how they will welcome the day when the “little coffin fillers” – as an indignant letter-writer in the San Francisco Chronicle once called them – will be banned from the hills of home.
Several times reports of an imminent demise have been made. As far as cable cars fans are concerned, they are in sold agreement with the one who rhetorically asked:
“Breathes there a San Franciscan with soul so dead
Who never to himself had said:
‘Let’s take a ride on the rope!’”
On, now, this distinctive story high on the list of San Franciscana.