A cable car in San Francisco. After the great earthquake of 1906 only four of the original cable-car lines were rebuilt. The remaining cable cars are seen as emblematic of San Francisco. They are largely used by tourists, as far as I can tell, although on the routes they cover they are the best way to get up and down the hills. All too often, however, I had the dismal experience of several cable cars in a row not stopping to let me on since they were all already jammed to the gills with people hanging off the runner-boards.