Since its founding at the beginning of the 17th century, Old Québec has been divided into the Lower Town (Basse-Ville) built along the the shore of the St. Lawrence River, and the Upper Town (Haute-Ville) built upon the bluffs overlooking the river valley. Thus, for centuries, travel between these two adjacent, central parts of the city was somewhat laborious. Then, finally, someone built a funicular.
The Old Québec Funicular (Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec) was built by a fellow named William Griffith in 1879. The dual-car railroad is 64 meters (210 feet) long and travels at a 45-degree angle, ultimately depositing passengers 59 meters (194 feet) above their starting point. The Lower Town terminus is located in the historic house of the famous explorer and fur trader Louis Jolliet. The ride offers commanding views of the Lower Town and the river below.
The funicular was originally built to use a water ballast propulsion system, whereby a water tank in the car at the top would be filled until it became heavy enough to start moving down the track, pulling up the counterbalanced car at the bottom. It was converted to an electric propulsion system in 1907. The structure was rebuilt in 1946 after sustaining damage due to a fire in 1945. Major aesthetic and technological renovations were undertaken in 1978 and 1998, respectively.