San Francisco is unusual in that it has never had a grand railroad station - instead it has the Ferry Building. Before bridges were built across the bay both daily commuters and transcontinental travellers arrived in the city by ferry at the foot of Market Street.
The Ferry Bulding was built in 1898, on pilings over the waters of San Francisco Bay. Its 240 foot clock tower became a symbol of the city, even more dramatically when the building survived the earthquake and fire of 1906. At its peak in the early 1930's over 30,000 people a day passed through the building.
But after the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge were built, ferry traffic fell off and the building was converted to office space and storage. A notorious elevated freeway was built across in front of it, and the grand old building was all but forgotten.
The Embracadero Freeway was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and torn down two years later. The foot of Market Street has been landscaped into a series of plazas connecting with the wide palm-lined Embarcadero. The final element in this urban rebirth was the renovation of the Ferry Building two years ago. Ferries are now running again, from the East Bay and Marin County. Streetcars follow the Embarcadero north to Fisherman's Wharf, south to the new China Basin ballpark, and up Market Street into the heart of the city.
The grand main hall of the Ferry Building, 660 feet long, has been reborn as the Ferry Building Marketplace
, a series of shops featuring the outstanding food and drink of northern California. Several days a week a farmers market takes place on the bay-side plaza. It has become once again a lively place, full of interest to local residents and visitors alike.
In this panorama can be seen: Scharffen Berger Chocolates
; Tsar Nicoulai Caviar
; Miette Patisserie
; Farmer's Garden Organically Grown Produce; Hog Island Oyster Company
; Golden Gate Meat Company
; Acme Bread; Cowgirl Creamery
; and McEvoy Ranch Oilve Oil