The five terminuses

These are updates I’ve done of vintage pictures taken at the five remaining cable car terminuses. “They’re not trolleys!!!” The Downtown San Francisco map here, from, shows the routes of the three remaining cable car lines in the smaller orange dashes. The orange circled C, PM, PH are at the beginning and ending destinations of the lines, and represent the California Line, the Powell, Mason Line, and the Powell, Hyde Line. (Thumbnail images)

I’ll begin at the Aquatic Park turntable terminus of the PH Line. This vintage picture taken during the mid 1960s is a neat little time capsule, including the clothes, the old cable car signal light, and the gripman with the cigarette in his mouth. (Glenn Christiansen)

Another view from Aquatic Park in 1969: That’s the Ghirardelli Square Tower peeking out over the cable car in both pictures. (

Kids on the turntable at Bay and Taylor Streets on the PM Line in the 1950s: (Vintage Everyday)

I did this update from a piece of film, taken at Bay and Taylor Streets during the early 1970s, in December of 2020 when the cable cars were not running due to the Covid-19 shutdown. Cost Plus imports had just closed in 2020, but the old 76 gas station is still in business. (

Where the California Street cable car line comes into and out of Market Street on the C Line in 1960: (

A cable car leaving the California and Market Streets terminus during the 1960s: (San Francisco Pictures Blog)

No long queue lines at the loneliest cable car terminus of all five at California Street and Van Ness, seen in the vintage picture during the 1950s. You can’t see Grace Cathedral from here anymore. (Phil Palmer)

California Street and Van Ness in the 1960s: I just snapped this one yesterday, and it was as close as I could get to a comparison; if you step out into busy Van Ness and pause to take a picture, you just might wind up making the news. I probably was standing about where the manhole cover in the vintage picture is.

The busiest terminus of them all, PH, PM at Powell Street and Market, seen in the 1930s: The long lines are back here again, and they’re a welcome sight.

Another angle of the Powell and Market Street terminus in 1967:

3 thoughts on “The five terminuses

  • The precision of matching new pictures to old is very impressive. I would not have such patience. It would be more difficult when the old pictures were taken on film, rather than digitally. Nowadays, I suppose that one could take a few pictures in succession, and then select the best match from the bunch. Regardless, it takes diligence.
    You know, I may be noticing more about the trees there than when I actually go there. I do not remember such exemplary specimens of Ficus microcarpa ‘Nitida’ as those in the newer of the second pictures or the newer of the third pictures.

    • Thanks Tony! It does take patience sometimes, but it’s also something I enjoy doing. Also, I wouldn’t know a Ficus microcarpa from a Christmas Tree by name, but you’re the boss there.

      • Well, it is simple. A Christmas tree could be a Pseudotsuga menziesii, Abies balsamea, Picea pungens, Pinus strobus, or any of many related species, so does not resemble a Ficus microcarpa ‘Nitida’. I just noticed the Ficus (. . . ) because I think of it as a tree of Southern California. It dislikes the climate of the Santa Clara Valley. I do not expect to see it in San Francisco either, even though it is not totally unhappy there.

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