San Francisco Cable Railway, Cable Car Powerhouse & Barn, 1201 Mason Street, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA
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1201 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA
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Documentation compiled after 1968.
Survey number HAER CA-12-A
Building/structure dates: 1967 subsequent work
Building/structure dates: 1907 initial construction
Building/structure dates: 1956 subsequent work
also CAL,38-SANFRA,137- San Francisco Cable Railway
Significance: San Francisco's three surviving cable car routes all operate out of this two-story brick building. Erected in 1907-08, this structure replaced a three-story brick powerhouse and car barn built in 1887-89 by the Ferries & Cliff House Railway and destroyed by the earthquake and fire in April 1906. The present edifice, constructed at a cost of $75,000, was built on the footings and foundations of the original building. The first floor houses the winding machinery for the three cables and their associated drive motors, converted from steam to electricity in 1911. A machine shop is also located on this floor. The cables enter and exit the building through a sheave vault located under the sidewalk at the southeast corner of the building. Tracks for car storage and repair, three car repair pits, and offices occupy the second floor. The powerhouse is built into the slope of a hill, so that the rear of the second floor opens onto a yard with several outbuildings, a turntable, and a number of tracks. The turntable is used to spot incoming cars onto the repair and storage tracks, and to direct outbound cars onto the street. The original building handled cars by means of transfer tables on the two upper floors instead of with a turntable. The building has undergone few major structural changes since 1907. In 1956-7, when the operation of the California Street cable was incorporated into the building, a concrete slab was poured over the former boiler pits along the south wall of the first floor. Incorporation of a museum and visitor's gallery in 1967 required construction of a mezzanine along the building's south wall. This work also included the conversion of the southernmost window on the Mason Street facade into a doorway providing access to the mezzanine. Other alterations made as a result of the museum include a decorative canopy at the building's southeast corner, the flagpoles on the roof, and various signs and fittings intended to convey a sense of the building's age and function.
Galleries & Museums
Historic American Engineering Record (Library of Congress)
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