Ferry Building

Before the the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges were built in the 1930s,  nearly everyone arrived in San Francisco by ferry.  The transcontinental railroad ended in Oakland, where travelers boarded ferries which took them across the Bay to the Ferry Building.  By the 1920s, over 50,000 people a day passed through the Ferry Building making it he busiest transit terminal in the country and second only to London's Charing Cross station worldwide.

The first Ferry Building, built in 1875, was no more than a wooden shed that the city quickly outgrew.

The current Ferry Building opened in 1898.  The front wall sits on the sea wallsite on the sea wall.  The remainder is built out into the bay, resting on a foundation of  over 5,000 pine pilings driven deep into the mud. has survived two major earthquakes with only minor damage.

Stand in the middle of Market street anywhere along its length and you can see the Ferry Building's 245 foot clock tower at the eastern end. Architect A. Page Brown modeled the clock tower on the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral in Spain, which is the final resting place of Christopher Columbus (his remains were moved five times before landing there, but that's another story.) 



For over 100 years, the Ferry Building has stood as a San Francisco landmark that still welcomes commuters and visitors to the City by the Bay.

Photos courtesy of San Francisco History Collection of the San Francisco Public Library:
Original Ferry Building circa 1898 and New Ferry Building 1915 

"I wonder what the world would have done without the Giralda Tower in Seville? It has inspired many of the most beautiful towers in the world. It helped to inspire . . . our own Ferry Tower, which is decidedly one of the best pieces of architecture in San Francisco." 

--John D. Barry, City of Domes



Learn more about the Ferry Building.  SF City Guides offers free tours of the Ferry Building all year round.  Info on all SF City Guide tours at www.sfcityguides.org.

A behind the scenes foodie tour of the Ferry Building is offered by Epicurean Concierge Lisa Rogovin every other Tuesday.  The tour ends with a trolley ride to Bloomingdales for a cooking demonstration.  For information on this and other culinary adventures in the Bay Area go to www.inthekitchenwithlisa.com.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful site for so much information on your exciting city.

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