Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About San Francisco’s Cable Cars

Ever since they became a part of the city’s transit system, they have been iconic mainstays of its cityscape

The Head of Muni Was Paid More Than the Mayor

(Courtesy of the SFMTA Photo Archive / ©2011 SFMTA)

The newly-founded Muni moved from strength to strength. When the Panama-Pacific International Exposition opened in February 1915, thousands of passengers were carried to the site without a single accident. In 1917, San Francisco’s 2.27-mile-long Twin Peaks Tunnel became the longest street railway tunnel in the world. By 1918, Muni was so flush with cash that it helped finance the San Francisco Public Library. Muni was so successful, in fact, that its fare remained 5 cents – until 1944.

A major force behind the system’s success was Limerick, Ireland-born Michael O'Shaughnessy, the city engineer responsible for the expansion of Muni and the building of the Hetch-Hetchy reservoir and electric plant (which supplies power to the overhead lines and electric motors that run the cable cars). O'Shaughnessy was considered such an asset that his salary was more than that of the Mayor, city attorney and police chief combined.

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