Posts Tagged: Clay Street Hill Railroad



All Movements Begin With A Small Step

The Clay Street Hill Railroad

Two arguments against the current state of cable transit are the rather short line lengths of existing systems and the relatively few systems that actually exist. Both arguments suggest that urban gondola transit is not yet ready for ‘prime time.’

Fair enough.

It is, however, important to remember that all technologies start out modestly. No matter the rate of eventual uptake, all technology begins – in effect – in someone’s basement.

For example:

In 1873 Andrew Smith Hallidie opened America’s first commercially viable cable-hauled railway; San Francisco’s Clay Street Hill Railroad – the precursor to the beloved Cable Car.

It was less than 1 km in length.

By the end of the century there would be over 800 kms worth of cable lines in cities throughout the United States and dozens of other cities outside North America had their own systems, too.

Yes, the Cable Car became a relic of a bygone era – replaced by self-propelled streetcar – but the point still remains: What was a legitimate revolution in transportation started with one modest system of less than 1 km in the far away land (at least at that time) of San Francisco.

The parallels to what is going on with Cable Propelled Transit in Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and South America in general should be obvious to anyone.

We should remember that when we scoff at the modest gains of all technologies. Even the beleaguered London Heathrow Ultra PRT, may be a precursor of things to come.

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