Residents and tourists alike know the Ferry Building well. It’s a super backdrop for a selfie. It’s a spectacular place for a stroll among the stalls. Soon it’s going to feature enhanced ferry capability and outdoor space, but more about that in a bit.
First, a brief history of the building: built in the late 1800’s , the Ferry Building was a hustling and bustling hub. Over 50,000 people per day came to the city via ferry, docking and disembarking here. A great hall, known as the Great Nave, featured arches and skylights provided the first welcome to San Francisco.
The opening of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges stimulated the mass use of automobiles and over time, commuting by ferry dwindled. By the mid-1950’s the building was converted to office space and was overshadowed by the Embarcadero Freeway. It was hardly enticing to cross under the freeway only to walk through the then narrow dark corridor to wait outside on the piers for the next ferry.
Then in 1989, the Loma Prieta Earthquake hit. Among the heartbreaking structural failures throughout the city, the Embarcadero Freeway suffered as well. Seen as uncharacteristic of the spirit of the city, it was torn down and replaced by a wide boulevard, making the Ferry Building visible and accessible once again.
Knowing that ferry traffic would not return to the level it was in its heyday, the decision was made to transform the interior into a retail and restaurant space. If you’ve had the pleasure you will know the wonders that await you as you cruise through. Artisanal chocolatier Recchiuti – CowGirl Creamery – Humphry Slocombe – Blue Bottle Coffee – all with tempt you to stop and try. In the mood for a meal? Slanted Door – MarketBar – Hog Island Oyster – and don’t forget to grab a burger at Gott’s Roadside!
So let’s get back to the new work that’s happening at the Ferry Building. There will be two new entry gates, so incoming ferries don’t have to wait while outgoing ones are loading. There will be weather-protected canopies for waiting passengers, plus a new plaza south of the building for gatherings and events. All good for this grand old San Francisco icon!
Did we mention that the Ferry Building hosts the city’s largest and most vibrant farmer’s market? Be sure to check it Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00am-2:00pm and Saturday from 8:00am-2:00pm.
FUN FACT: Each of the tower’s four clock faces measure 22 feet in diameter!