VIPS in the Port of San Francisco

Andrew Smith Hallidie

Born in London, March 16, 1836; Died San Francisco 1900

His early training was of a scientific and mechanical character, and at ten years of age he successfully constructed an "electrical machine." When he was thirteen he began work in a machine shop and drawing office operated by his brother, and there gained the practical experience that stood him in good service during the remainder of his life. In the evenings he continued his studies, but manual labor during the day and study at night began to undermine his health, so his father decided to take him to California.

On January 28, 1852, the father and son left Liverpool for America on the steamship Pacific of the Collins Line. The Pacific arrived in New York on February 12. After a stopover of sixteen days, the father and son departed for Chagres on the Brother Jonathan. After crossing the Isthmus the travelers reached Panama on March 15. On March 26th they embarked on the ship Brutus, Captain D. C Mitchell, and landed at Clark's Point in San Francisco 57 days from Panama.

(Editor's Note: The Hallidies are not on the passenger list as printed in newspapers, which means they may have travelled steerage as steerage passengers were not included on the newspaper lists.)

A. S. Hallidie Ad, Pacific Rural Press, October 4, 1879.

After inspecting the mining venture, his father returned to England in 1853. Andrew Hallidie tried his hand for a few years during which time he developed machinery to help with the project; he returned to San Francisco in 1857 and commenced the manufacture of wire rope in a building at Mason and Chestnut Streets.

California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences, October 28, 1869


The first Wire Bridge built and traveled over is on exhibition at the Mechanics' Fair. The honor of this Invention belongs to Messrs. Hallidie & Co., A. S. Hallidie, Esq., of this firm, being the President of the Mechanics' Institute, has thus instituted a very happy affair for the people of the Fair, to take a fair look at the moving masses in the grand arena above, around, and below them.

President Hallidie should feel very proud to have the honor of thus giving the people such a Holiday Excursion over the New Wire Bridge, of which everybody speaks in high praise, and so they should, for the truth is we should speak well of a Bridge that "carries us well over;" and President Hallidie and his brave working band of Directors have Bridged over a wide space in their Treasury, and filled up the chasm, so that they can now go on with "Railroad" speed in their career of prosperity and usefulness, which all the friends of this most valuable institution most earnestly desire.

We are most happy to know and Report that the Total Receipts of the Seventh Mechanics' Fair has already amounted to about $55,000 and with the Income of the Grand Carnival, will undoubtedly swell the amount to the handsome sum of Sixty Thousand Dollars.

August 25, 1875


Mr. Clayton is a much more popular man than Mr. Hallidie, and probably better qualified to fill the office of Mayor of San Francisco. Hence the efforts of the Bulletin to make it appear that Clayton will not run; an old device, and not very efficacious, so far as our observation goes. Clayton is indeed an excellent nomination, for a more candid and upright man does not live, and his genial kindness of disposition points him out as a very proper person to assume an office which, more than any other, demands a personal representation of the best and most pleasant traits of the community. Aye don't think the Republicans can nominate a better man than Clayton, and therefore they will do well to indorse him.

December 11, 1885, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

A Training Hospital

Articles were filed in the Secretary of State's office on Wednesday of the Hospital for Children and Training School for Nurses. To assist to educate women in the study and practice of medicine and to aid them in becoming competent and intelligent nurses. Principal place of business, San Francisco.

Trustees, Pierre B. Cornwall, John F. Merrill, W. Frank Whittier, Irving M. Scott and Andrew S. Hallidie. Mrs. Emma G. Harrington has been elected President, and Mrs. Martha A. Burke Secretary. Directors, Mrs. E. L. Murray, Mrs. L. D. Latimer, Mrs. M. A. Raymond, Mrs. M. E. C. Logan, Mrs. C. E. Green.

June 3, 1886, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

Pacific Cable Railroad Company.

Articles of incorporation were filed yesterday by the Pacific Cable Railroad Company, who propose to acquire, introduce and maintain endless wire cable systems of street railroads, to buy, sell and maintain patent rights on roads already in operation and to acquire such rights in the future. Capital stock, $2,000,000, in $100 shares.

Directors: Leland Stanford, A. B. Hallidie, C. F. Crocker, F. F. Low, James Moffitt and J. L. Willcutt.

November 17, 1886, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

A Cable Road for Mexico.

The Mexican Cable Tramways Company held its annual meeting yesterday at the office of the Company and elected the following officers: President, A. B. Hallidie; Vice-President, Charles L. Ackerman; Secretary, D. P. Belknap; Treasurer, W. Loaiza. J. F. Godoy, the agent of the Company, now in the City of Mexico, was authorized to complete arrangements for the construction of a system of cable roads in that city.

March 4, 1891, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

The Mechanics' Institute.

At the regular meeting of the Trustees of the Mechanics' Institute last evening, the Committee on Books reported that last year 4,147 bound volumes were added to the library, making 54,723 volumes in all. Market Street, San Francisco, early 1900s.

It was decided to send to Andrew S. Hallidie a series of resolutions, engrossed on parchment, thanking him for the interest and zeal he displayed in placing on exhibition at the last fair the original models and appliances used by him in the construction of street cable car roads in this city.

Hallidie lived to see the fruition of his many years of strenuous efforts. Cable railroads spread to Oakland, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York, London, and Sidney. Many of his inventions were used, and the collection of large royalties for a long period made him wealthy. In later years he enjoyed relating how he lost a substantial sum through an oversight. In spite of being thoroughly familiar with the problems and after years of experimenting with the cable system, he overlooked the importance of patenting a slot sufficiently narrow to keep out the carriage wheels. The practical application of a narrow slot made it possible to operate cable cars on the city streets.

Pacific Rural Press, May 5, 1900

Andrew S. Hallidie died at his San Francisco residence on the 24th ult., of heart disease, in the 65th year of his age. He was one of San Francisco's foremost citizens, and his fame is worldwide as the inventor of the cable railway street car system, which he first put in practical operation in San Francisco August 25, 1873.

He was of Scottish birth and came to California in 1852. He held numerous positions of trust and honor in commercial, manufacturing - and educational lines. He was a regent of the University from its establishment to his death and promoted its interests untiringly. He was particularly interested in horticulture and deeply enjoyed relaxation on his farm in San Mateo county.

Personally Mr. Hallidie was one of the quietest and most unassuming of men. He was of constant aid to young men, always ready with genial counsel and substantial assistance, and to the last took an active interest in everything pertaining to the industrial and public welfare of his adopted city, for whose material progress he did so much. All his life he went around doing good, and made the world to a marked degree better for his having lived in it.

San Francisco Call, May 6, 1900, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Andrew S. Hallidie's Will

The will of the late Andrew S. Hallidie, inventor of the cable railway, was filed for probate yesterday. In the will, which bears date of April 2, 1878, and is witnessed by G. H. Wallis and E. S. Howard, decedent bequeaths his entire estate to his widow. Martha Elizabeth Hallidie. In the document decedent says:

"I commit to the care of my wife, as far as she may be able to provide, those now depending on me. I hereby appoint my wife sole executrix of my will, relying upon her good Judgment to justly administer my affairs and wind them up in such manner as may seem best fitting to her, and being in the full enjoyment of my senses I acknowledge the great powers of God in extending his considerate protection to me during my life, and when the messenger of death calls I hope and believe I may be prepared for him."

1887 Prospectus for San Francisco's Wire Cable Railways and Cable CarsShips, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Wire Cable Railways and Cable Cars.Pacific Cable Railway Company
In 1873, the first cable railway in the United States began operation in San Francisco. In subsequent years, the Clay Street Railroad was joined by many other operators throughout the U.S.A., including systems in New York and Los Angeles. The rise of the electric trolley made most cable car systems obsolete. Today, the only street cable car system in operation is the historic San Francisco Municipal Railway. Originally published in 1887 (line to copies below), this prospectus was prepared by patent holders in hopes of attracting additional operators and investors. The document describes the cable car system and its operation in text, diagrams and photographs, and presents a detailed list of patents. This easy-to-read reprint is presented in format, slightly larger than the original. However, care has been taken to preserve the integrity of the text.

The System of Wire-Cable Railways for Cities and Towns: The Original 1887 Prospectus Featuring San Francisco's Cable CarsShips, Shipping, Migration, World Seaports.
Pacific Cable Railway Company

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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