Cable Car Museum

Top choice historic site in Nob Hill & Russian Hill
Image by Hal Bergman Photography / Getty Images

That clamor you hear riding cable cars is the sound of San Francisco's peak technology at work. Gears click and wire-hemp ropes whir as these vintage contraptions are hoisted up and over hills too steep for horses or buses – and you can inspect those cables close-up here, in the city's still-functioning cable-car barn. See three original 1870s cable cars stored here and browse a bonanza of SF memorabilia (actual cable-car bells!) in the museum shop.

Watch cables whir over massive bull wheels – as awesome a feat of physics now as when Andrew Hallidie invented the mechanism in 1873.