Street Musicians and Powell Cable Cars Turnaround in San Francisco, California

Street Musicians at Powell and Market

Uploaded by:  redd_plinke  In album: San Francisco: Downtown & Embarcade...  In Webshots channel: travel
Uploaded by: redd_plinke In album: San Francisco: Downtown & Embarcade... In Webshots channel: travel
Laurel and Hardy pie fight
Laurel and Hardy pie fight

So what's so special about the Market and Powell cable car turnaround?

Well, as Herbie Hatman puts it...

Powell Cable Car Turnaround is a charming locale. Tourists. Local working class. Shoppers. Business people going home for the weekend. Folks coming in from BART for the evening. The unending stream of people give the sense of a busy city which San Francisco has to provide.

  • Scheduled Pie fights occur here, every so often. Come one, come all, bring shaving cream.
  • Lots of shopping
  • Powell Hotel
  • Part of LoveFest parade and celebration
  • Global events parades
  • The cable car turnaround, of course
  • Powell Street station
  • Blondie's Pizza
  • Three districts  meet at this juncture
  • 5 way traffic
  • Street performers and musicians, bien sur!

and much much more.

Jennifer Phillips singing at Market and Powell

Street Musicians of San Francisco of the 1970's

Street performers, alive and living it up.

Street performers come in all shapes and sizes sounds and spectaculars. One of the best places to find them? San Francisco, of course! The people of San Francisco enjoy free concerts every day.

San Francisco is know for it's vast array of sidewalk and street corner musicians. They come and go. They linger. They float from spot to spot. Some are expected. Others are unexpected. They play alone. They play in groups.  They line the sidewalks.

Drums may greet you on your way to work. You may come across an entising Salsa band on your way back home. A walk down a San Francisco mainstreet can feel like taking a walk through the radio waves.

Spectators stand and watch, converse, meet, dance, sing along, eat, pass by, toss some change. Some have even been known to join in.

What we sometimes look for in San Francisco

We look for something new, different, exciting, and something that will change us, bring us "home" again.

We look for variety, culture, sights, sounds, entertainment, the usual and the unusual. Meltingpots of people, outdoor extraviganzas. Life. Love

And, of course, we look for the cable cars. We expect to see them, hear them, watch them go by. One of the best places to catch the cable car action, is at the Market Street at Powell cable car turnaround. Take a look:

You can hear a street band in the background of this one.

Ryan Hupfer on his way to work one day...

Ryan Hupfer of HubPages is one of the lucky ones. He gets to live in San Francisco AND walk to work. Envious? Heck yeah I am.

Just the other morning, his ears were greeted by opera.

Schubert's "Ave Maria" none the less!

Lucky us, he caught it on his cell via video record (TGFC - thank goodness for cell phones!). Okay, so it's not the same as if we were really there, face to face with this the incredible surprise of loveliness, but for some of us, like me, it will have to do. (Not taken at the Market and Powell cable car turnaround, but had to share; you never know, she might just show up there when one least expects it.)

Check related links for his HubBlog post on this experience, and the juggler video.

San Francisco Magazines

Video courtesy of Ryan Hupfer

Remembering Market Street and Powell ~ By Frieda Babbley

"Darlin', if you want ta dance, you betta do it today!" - overheard (This poem is based on a true story heard via an interview on 88.1 KDHX St. Louis, some 18 years ago. Stuck with me all these years.)

You remember me

Market Street and Powell

You know, where the streetcar turns around

There was a San Francisco street band

playing Jazz there.

You stood in the crowd

feet plastered to the ground

when the rhythm walked me up

swayed my hips

the way you wanted yours to sway.

That's right

I'm that old black woman

that come up and started dancin'

in front of the band

the one they aaall laughed at

the one who kept dancin' even then

who looked deep into their eyes

and pointed a slow... serious finger

that hushed them all

and when I got to you

I knew you understood

'cause your feet let go

and your hips began to sway.

album cover
album cover
Nearing the Market Street and Powell Street Car Turnaround
Nearing the Market Street and Powell Street Car Turnaround
Market street near Powell at one of the BART entrances.
Market street near Powell at one of the BART entrances.

Jazz Saxaphone at Market Street and Powell

turntable at night, a lovely sight

Video taken by a woman Riding on the Cable Car on Powell

Comments 45 comments

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Yea Frieda! What a marvelous tour. I haven't been in "Frisco" (as my mother calls the city by the bay, her loving appellation from living there during the WWII years while my father was stationed in the Pacific) in many years. Such a celebration you made. Thanks for putting all the color together. I can still hear the ring of the cable car bell and feel the excitement of the steep ride. Thumbs up.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks Sally! Glad the color showed through in this piece. I've been to Frisco once, my husband many a time. He calls it "Frisco" too.


k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

Wish I could go now! I am also jealous of Ryan Hupfer! I have always thought San Francisco is a beautiful and interesting city.

Your poem is wonderful! I can see her dancing and shushing the crowd.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

I know. Thankfully he appreciates it. That makes it better of course. lol. Thanks. Glad you liked. It was the poem that inspired the hub, so good thing it passes inspection. Thanks for mentioning it.


Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

Hey Frieda! Thanks for the tour :-) Seems it was in another life when I last visited SF, but I remember the cablecar as if I saw it yesterday. I can't remember any street music though. Many people around Powell & Market, that's for sure, but music? Can't recall!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Frieda, thanks for the tour! My hips are swayin' already! Alas, the only two times I was ever in Frisco, I was too young to find my way to the Turnaround. In fact, the relatives who took us into SF didn't take us anywhere near cable cars! Imagine that!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Ah Elena, you were probably paying attention to other things, or maybe, there was no music at that time. It's not a party 24/7 of course. LOL. I was there oh, 14 years ago? As part of our honeymoon. We were all over the place. I don't remember music ALL the time either, but certain parts of the day at certain places it was amazing. There's always something going on somewhere. I'm so sorry you didn't hear any. Perhaps next time you go?

Hey there JamaGenee. They probably thought it was too dangerous. :( I'm sorry to hear that. I found navigation there to be quite tricky, and I went in my twenties lol. I pieced it all together once it was time to go, and by then it was too late. Actually it was driving outside of San Francisco north to Sausilito and south to Palo Alto that I got a good feel for San Francisco and got my bearings. I suppose it's a bit like being in a jar of gumballs vs. on the outside looking in? Anyway, I hope that you get to go there again and that next time you are able to see them and maybe even take a ride or two.


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

Your hubs have everything in them FB. I'm really impressed. Personal feel and informative, you almost make me want to go to San Fran.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks there gt. Almost? Dang. Hoped to have done better than that. LOL. Glad you liked.


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

Well I've been to San Fran a few times and its a little bit too nice for me, I need a little grime, but I think it is what a modern city should be, with culture and the vibes you displayed


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

I know what you're saying. And I suppose the grime over there is a bit different than the kind you're talking about. And thanks man.


Zeke Brett Tyrus profile image

Zeke Brett Tyrus 7 years ago from San Francisco

This is my hood. I live in North Bch & work a hotdog cart on Stockton & O'Farrell. Read some of my hubs & let's meet someday.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Very cool, Zeke! Wow. So I had a hard time finding info on this, but am I right that three different districts meet at this juncture? Let me know if I'm wrong on that. I'll definitely have to check out your hubs. Way cool. Thanks, glad you stopped in for a read!


C. C. Riter 7 years ago

Hey there, that's a really nice tour i just took. and the fat lady singing was just awesome, she really should have been last ya know? thanks a lot. ZLoved it.

I got something you'll like to The Old Firm is back, don't know if you met him. Please do, you'll enjoy him greatly as we all do. please look him up now, you won't regret it


C. C. Riter 7 years ago

Yeah, the poem is great, but isn't it not over til the fat lady sings? still brilliant dear


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

I definitely will C.C.  I'll be looking for it and let you know right away.  I'll be sure to comment. It aint over till... I get it.  Very clever.  I can always count on you for clever!  I'll think about it, but the poem goes better at the end really, don't you think?  Kinda ties it all up?

Okay, I might try it out.


C. C. Riter 7 years ago

I just noticed the pictures down below, nice. Love your new picture too. lovely


Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

This feels like a personalized tour! Fun, warm with hints of nostalgia! So Babbley - I likes :D


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks C. C. and I took your suggestion. Hope it's to your liking. Think it works, any comments on this would be fabulous by the way for anyone reading this.

Hi Cris. I'm very glad you enjoyed your visit. This hub gives a personal tour 24/7 so come back any time you like.


Cindy Letchworth profile image

Cindy Letchworth 7 years ago from Midwest, U.S.A.

What a different life. I have never been to San Francisco, but I like the idea of the music embracing you wherever you go.

Liked the poem. I can see the woman dancing and the music playing...good job.


Pete Maida profile image

Pete Maida 7 years ago

I've always considered San Francisco to be the best city in the country to visit. I lived in the south bay for a year, but I best memories were from touring the city. Cable cars is still a great way to get people around; they should be returned to all cities.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks Cindy. It would be nice to have some of that over here, huh? Maybe people would be a little nicer?

Hey there Pete, it does make a great city to visit. No matter what your budget, really. You're so lucky to live so near. I've heard the cable cars have gotten a bit expensive to ride on. Do you know? What's really cool is that they have the underground as well. So many easy and fun ways to get around such a cool city.


Ryan Hupfer profile image

Ryan Hupfer 7 years ago from San Francisco, CA

This is awesome! Great Hub and I feel honored to have my videos included :)


C. C. Riter 7 years ago

Great revamp Frieda. Love it. Love all the vids too. still like the Fat Lady best. haha very nice. thanks


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hey Ryan, glad you like! And thank you so so so very much for offering the video. Really does something brilliant for this piece. Thanks for stopping by.

C.C.! thanks for coming back... yet again. I'm glad you're pleased. She is the best, isn't she? What a voice. Can you imagine? I just get to hear motorcars and the occasional pedestrian shout to another pedestrian. lol.


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

When I read the title, I thought you were talking about St. Louis.  The first picture even looks like the loop.  Nice tour of San Fran though.  Went there once when I was in College (yes, Frieda, it was a long, long time ago) and loved it.  Who doesn't?

KDHX is great.  Never know if you're going to hear old time blues recorded in a cotton field or Albanian folk songs.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

KDHX: Isn't it though! It's amazing. And I really love listening to Dangerous Curves.

You know what? You are so right about that first photo! OMG. It totally does. Hmm. Amazing.


JPSO138 profile image

JPSO138 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

Its like touring the city. Great hub!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks for reading JPSO138. This was a fun article for me to create, so, glad you enjoyed.


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

Frieda Babbley -Thnaks for nice tour of this city nice hub again


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thank you Lgali. for taking the tour. So glad you enjoyed.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

Maybe I will check this out if I ever get to San Francisco again.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hi SweetiePie. If you do, hope you take some pictures and let us know about it. Thanks for dropping in.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

Well, let me say that even though I have written many songs (Music & Lyrics) I haven't been a big fan of poetry but I gotta tell ya: That was an excellent poem you wrote. It had a great meter and told a real story in a vivid style. Impressive. City looks great, too. It is hard to believe, but I have never been there. I love the musicians.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Oh, Hi! I was just going over my keywords for this, and there you were! Thanks much. It's an amazing city. Now I can't say I'd want to live there, but I'd vacation there anytime, a week to a month is good.


Hammerj profile image

Hammerj 7 years ago from Cebu City

Wow nice topic..the street musician are very creative with their music..i like to hear a music specially a very creative one...thanks


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks Hammerj. I wish there were some where I lived. Just amazing to be walking along and get seranaded by all sorts of great musicians.


Montana Farm Girl profile image

Montana Farm Girl 7 years ago from Northwestern Montana

Absolutely fab hub!!!! I grew up 80 miles from SF, and as a teen, once we got our license to drive, that is where we headed each and every chance we could!!! Even as an adult, before moving to Montana, we headed there...SF is a very special, unique place indeed!!! One of the many highlights was always the street performers.... esp down on the wharf...the men wrapped in foil, the man who's entire performance consisted of hiding behind a tree branch he had cut down and jumping out from behind it to scare passerbys!!!! People spend hours just enjoying these creative folks!!! I do miss the marketplaces too!! My youngest son lives there...something I had always hoped to do once I became an adult....now, I happily visit, but could never live there ...I'm a country girl at heart now.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hey Montana Farm Girl. Great to see you. rofl, scaring people, that's funny. Yeah, there's all kinds of street performers over there. It's just the coolest. You're lucky you got to enjoy them so often. Of course if I had your life, I'd be a country girl at heart too. =D Thanks for sharing your wild days.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

Street musicians add magic to any place you go. It's so unexpected and beautiful, the way the sound just peels around the buildings. I'm listening to the saxaphone right now.


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

So true. Yes, unexpected. I love that about street musicians. You never know who or where. You're listening to the saxaphone? Street musician? How wonderful! You lucky girl. None where I am. I have to go to the loop or the west end and on the right night. That normally doesn't happen =(.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 6 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

Hi PG,so glad to find this one of yours. "You stood in the crowd feet plastered to the ground when the rhythm walked me up" That line alone was worth the trip. =:) Next time you go, stop by the Ferry Building on the waterfront and visit the Acme Bread Company, buy your favorite and then stop by the Cowgirl Creamery's Artisan Cheese Shop. Yum! Oh, just a trivia question---when teaching dyslexic piano, do you cross your arms? =:)


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 6 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Hey hey winsome. How goes? Lol on the dyslexic piano teaching. You card you. Glad you enjoyed this. Thanks much for the read. Hope you're having a super fab day, and yes, I will stop by those places. I saw the Cowgirl Creamery Artisan Cheese Shop actually. We got sidetracked though, lol.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 5 years ago from South Africa

Brilliant, Frieda! Thanks so much for this wonderful Hub. I really enjoyed the visit and especially the musicians. Love your poem too.

Love and peace

Tony


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 5 years ago from Saint Louis, MO Author

Thanks Tony. =D Hope all is well in your beautiful part of the world.

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