"Y'know these cars have been known to jump the track," said the native San Franciscan seated next to me.
I had just stretched around him to take this photo as our cable car headed down Washington Street, when the fellow made this dire comment. This was our only interaction up to this point, so I was unsure whether or not he was serious.
But since I was just wondering that very same possibility, I responded, "Are you serious?"
"Oh, yeah," he soberly responded, seeming to enjoy stringing me along.
While I returned to taking photos, he allowed just enough time to pass before adding, "That was a long time ago, though."
I just smiled, but I had to admire his ability to keep a straight face as he kept me wondering.
As we headed downhill, those of us sitting on the long bench seats parallel with the tracks just kept sliding toward this storyteller at the end of the bench who soon became strangely quiet. But he was still able to utter, "But I don't ride these cars much."
By this time, all I did was nod and return, very nonchalantly, to taking photos as we headed downhill.
As is the case with riding roller coasters, we had started (from Beach Street on the Powell-Hyde Loop) with a leisurely climb up Hyde Street.
We (cousin Barbara, Kate, and I) rode in the open section of the cable car with six people hanging onto poles while standing on a step and eight of us sitting on benches facing into the side streets along Hyde Street.
Along the climb, we took these next two photos looking down side streets in what I think was the Russian Hill section of the city.
Shown in the photo (right) is one of the most appealing buildings (to us, at least) in San Francisco--not the Transamerica Pyramid on the left, but the The Columbus Tower, also known as the Sentinel Building.
Built in 1907, the building's original owner, political boss Abe Reuf, included the copper bays. The Kingston Trio owned the building and used it as their corporate headquarters and recording studio during the 1960s.
Francis Ford Coppola poured another fortune into stripping the bays of paint and treating them so the copper took on a weathered green hue.
We also rode the California Line and stopped near this intersection (right). I shook my head at the thought of having to stop after climbing to this intersection.
A short walk brought us to the Grace Cathedral. In 1928, construction began on this French-Gothic-styled cathedral, which is reminiscent of Notre Dame of Paris. It features twin towers on the front facade
and ornamental aspects that include the Ghiberti Doors, also known as the "The Gates of Paradise," which were copies of the doors that originally appeared on the Baptistry Duomo in Florence, Italy.
When we left the Cathedral, Nob Hill's "crowning jewel." this was our view. On the left in the photo is the Flood Mansion, one of only two Nob Hill structures to have survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. (The Fairmont Hotel, though gutted, also remained standing.)
James Flood and three other partners purchased claims that turned out to be sitting on top of the richest silver mine in the world.
Because red sandstone, or brownstone, was fashionable in wealthy neighborhoods in the East, Flood ordered stone from Connecticut and built a 42-room brownstone mansion in the middle of San Francisco between 1885 and 1886. The mansion cost $1.5 million--over $26 million in today's dollars.
But affordable when you're worth $30 million in 1880's dollars, or about $20 billion today.