Got an idea for a holiday? Send it to us

Submit Now

Cable Car Day – January 17, 2023

Cable Car Day is celebrated every year on January 17. The day celebrates Andrew Smith Hallidie getting the patent for the cable car in 1871. It is believed that Hallidie saw horses struggle to pull cars up the steep hills of San Francisco, and worried about the news of people falling and dying. He decided to invent a system where strong cables would move the cars up and down the hill. Today, San Francisco is the last American city to still run any true cable cars! The Cable Car Museum in San Francisco is also a tourist attraction. In other American cities, you will find electric streetcars.

History of Cable Car Day

In early 1871, inventor Andrew Smith Hallidie received the first patent for the cable car. That occasion is now observed as Cable Car Day. Hallidie was struck by the idea to construct a cable-propelled transit after witnessing horses falling, and even dying, as they tried to pull cars up San Francisco’s steep Jackson Street. Hallidie was agitated by the deaths of these horses and decided to convert his sympathy into action. Before cable cars, Hallidie had previously invented a type of aerial tramway and designed improvements to mining ropes which drastically improved their economic life. Hallidie was obviously a talented inventor who always had others’ best interests in mind.

Two years after receiving his cable car patent, Hallidie was already on his way to setting up the world’s first cable car railroad on Clay Street. After that, things moved pretty quickly. By 1890, most large cities in America had at least one line. By then the electric streetcar had also been invented. These cars operated by connecting to overhead electrical wires instead of underground moving cables. Cities quickly started switching to these newer cars. These were also easier to install and operate.

Today, San Francisco is the last American city to still run any true cable cars. Unfortunately, none of the original lines survive. Only the grip car eight can be seen at Mason Street’s Cable Car Museum, which is located on two of San Francisco’s three cable car routes. You can also find cable car railways in Venice, Tampa, Las Vegas, and Milan.

Cable Car Day timeline

1826
The First Cable-operated Railway

It uses a moving rope that can be picked up or released by a grip on the car.

1881
The Dunedin Cable Tramway System

It opens in Dunedin, New Zealand, and becomes the first such system outside San Francisco.

1882
The Chicago City Railway

It becomes the largest and most profitable cable car system.

1890
Electric Trams

Electrically-powered trams become the norm and replace existing cable car systems.

Cable Car Day FAQs

What day is Cable Car Day?

January 17 is Cable Car Day. This occasion marks the day Andrew Smith Hallidie received the first patent for cable car railways in 1871.

When was the cable car invented?

Cable cars were invented by Hallidie in San Francisco in 1873. It was based on the cable car system of early mining conveyance systems.

Which cities have cable cars?

Many cities in America once had cable cars, but today, only San Francisco does. However, commuters can find trams in many other cities around the world.

Cable Car Day Activities

  1. Ride a cable car

    If you are in San Francisco, ride a cable car to work on Cable Car Day. It’s also a great way to cut down on carbon footprint.

  2. Pet a horse

    If you don’t have trams or cable cars in your city, fret not. Pet a horse on Cable Car Day as a way of showing appreciation for the earliest cable cars.

  3. Ride the tram

    Trams can be found in many cities around the world. If you are lucky enough to have the tram system in your city, don’t forget to hitch a ride on Cable Car Day.

5 Facts About Horses That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. They are quick learners

    Horses can run within hours after birth.

  2. Horses don’t laugh

    They’re actually engaging in a special nose-enhancing technique known as “flehmen,” to determine whether a smell is good or bad.

  3. Horses aren’t colorblind

    They are better at seeing yellows and greens than purples and violets.

  4. We have a few things in common

    Horse hooves are made from the same protein that makes up human hair and fingernails.

  5. They are versatile sleepers

    Horses can sleep both lying down and standing up.

Why We Love Cable Car Day

  1. A way to go green

    If you have been thinking about switching to eco-friendly transport, then traveling by cable car is the right option for you! The fuel emissions are negligible and it’s a convenient form of public transport.

  2. A day born out of kindness

    It’s unique to find inventions that were solely made to improve the lives of animals. Cable cars are one such invention and the day reminds us to be kind to all creatures around us.

  3. Celebrates history

    Cable cars have a historic value in most cities. They are preserved in museums and cherished by generations of commuters. The day is a celebration of the innovation of the cable car through the years.

Cable Car Day dates

YearDateDay
2023January 17Tuesday
2024January 17Wednesday
2025January 17Friday
2026January 17Saturday
2027January 17Sunday

Want to sponsor this holiday?

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.