About San Francisco
Landing in San Francisco, we thought we would keep our tour close to the waterfront from south of Pier 50 up to the Ferry Building and up past Pier 41 to the Golden Gate Bridge. First we’ll start with:
A few facts about the San Francisco waterfront
- It’s all built on landfill. Original waterfront was Montgomery Street. Abandoned sailing ships from the 1850s served as first layer of landfill. They still find remnants when they dig to start pouring foundation for new high rises.
- Prior to the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the area around the Ferry Building was an economic wasteland. The Central (Embarcadero ) Freeway cast a dreary shadow over the area and the shopworn storefronts–vacant and occupied–showed it. Post earthquake, the City tore down the Central Freeway, and today the waterfront is a vibrant, bright, thriving area – full of restaurants, bars, shops and access to watersports and San Francisco Bay.
South of the Ferry Building
Where to go? Favorite spots on the water south of the Ferry Building, where piers are even numbered: South of Pier 50 you will find Mission Rock Resort with great seafood and a view of the working waterfront and all-time favorite The Ramp – a funky fun hangout for comfort food and drinks, with Saturday Salsa and Sunday Latin Music. At AT&T on third and King is the Public House – pub, eatery and sports bar. Check out The Java House at Pier 40 for a chill breakfast or lunch in their sidewalk café and then up at Pier 30 its cousin Red’s Java House is known for its beer and burgers.
The Ferry Building
- The Ferry Building, a San Francisco Landmark. Connections to the San Francisco Bay Ferry (Oakland, Alameda, Harbor Bay, Vallejo, South San Francisco, AT&T Ballpark, Angel Island and San Francisco), Tiburon Ferry and the Golden Gate Ferry (Sausalito and Larkspur). The odd numbered piers start here at the bottom of Market St.
- The Ferry Building Marketplace. An open-air kind of marketplace inside, with beautiful wares, some with a French twist, others Italian and Californian. Lots of yummy restaurants. olive oil tastings, wine shops, plants, garden accessories, groceries, bookstore, home decor, flowers and more.
- One great store is Imperial Tea Court. Owner Roy Fong, probably the resident Chinese tea connoisseur, is down-to-earth, friendly and a great conversationalist.
- Favorite restaurant inside: Slanted Door. Charles Pham revolutionized Vietnamese cuisine with his incredibly creative take on the food. Consummate and professional service for a destination spot that’s packed all the time.
- On Saturdays (8am-2pm) and Tues. & Thurs. ( 10am-2pm) the world-renowned Ferry Plaza Farmers Market takes over outside the Ferry Building. Besides a wonderful lineup of vegetable and fruit vendors, there are cheese makers, olive oils, breads, pastries, yogurt, jams, fresh fish and oysters, sandwiches, soups, salads, Italian and Indian prepared food, flowers and orchids and so much more.
North of the Ferry Building
- From the Ferry Building, the San Francisco waterfront extends north and west toward and beyond Fisherman’s Wharf. The city used to have a thriving working port. No longer…the freight business moved to Oakland. Now we have a pier for cruise ships. Immediately north of the Ferry Building is Pier 1 converted into offices with a walkway around it and there is a public guest dock right above it at Pier 1 ½. For 2 ½ miles along the Embarcadero is an historical walk with plaques depicting SF history on the spot you are standing and some plaques have poetry that inspire you to move towards the water and think about it for awhile.
- Old time favorite restaurant for seafood and views of the water and Bay Bridge at Pier 7 is The Waterfront. Some of the piers are home to newer restaurants, like Coqueta with delectable Spanish Cuisine & Tapas at Pier 5 and The Plant Café Organic at Pier 3. Hornblower Yachts also dock at Pier 3. Some piers along the way provide lovely walkways and places to view the SF Bay or fish.
- There’s lots of learning – science, art and human perception – going on at the Exploratorium at Pier 15, and if it is too crowded for easy viewing you can sneak away to their restaurant & bar upstairs.
- Pier 23 is a fun place for seafood and outdoor dining on the deck, and if you are there in the evening you’ll be treated to some great jazz or R&B. A true San Francisco dive with great food and even a great burger.
- Of course, there is Pier 39 full of music, touristy shops and restaurants and where you catch the first inkling of Fisherman’s Wharf.
- There are still some fishing boats that unload here. The old-time restaurants serve pretty decent old-time fare. Fisherman’s Wharf now is primarily a tourist draw. Kitschy souvenir shops abound. But it’s still fun to look at all the crabs and lobsters in tanks outside the restaurants.
Are you a runner?
- Runners could start their run at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero and run as far as Fort Point, located under the southern anchor of the Golden Gate Bridge. That run must be about four miles. Beyond Fisherman’s Wharf, you can continue walking or running through the Marina Green, where you’ll spy the beautiful Palace of Fine Arts, pass by the Maritime Museum in the Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building and eventually get to the Presidio. The city’s done a great job turning Crissy Field, a former airplane landing strip, into a vibrant beach and pathway where you have stunning views of the SF Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Past the Golden Gate Yacht Club (Defender of the 35th America’s Cup) and St.Francis Yacht Club, in another mile or so, you end up underneath the Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point, a brick fort dating from the Civil War.
- A couple of other gems: Chinatown is about eight blocks up from the Ferry Building. Unless you want to find tourist trinkets, avoid Grant Avenue. To get a taste of how the locals shop, walk along Stockton Street (from Sacramento to Broadway). Check out the dim sum shops, produce and dry goods stores. The teeming, crowded sidewalks exude the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, for better or worse.
- Belden Place is a charming enclave (between Montgomery/Kearny and Pine/Bush in the middle of the Financial District). Everyone has tables outside in the alley. You’ll find a handful of bistros reminiscent of a festival in Barcelona or Paris. Look for Café Bastille, but all of the eating-places here are good, and the outdoor dining is particularly festive.
- Can’t leave this one out. Close by the waterfront, there’s Tadich Grill, reputedly the oldest restaurant in the city (at 240 California Street) and dating from 1849. In the past it seemed that the waiters preferred waiting on the good ole’ boys (including my dad and my boss) rather than the young working women! But things have changed for the best. A San Francisco tradition for fresh seafood and that clubby SF feel!
Notes On SF Fashion Industry: Stories from ML as relayed by our mascot Ginger.
As I sat down to write this, I did not know where to start or what to cover. San Francisco is huge, dynamic, ever-evolving and full of a gazillion places and things to do.
I came to know San Francisco through my mother’s eyes. We grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and mom would traipse us off to The City in our matching dresses and patent leather Mary Jane’s, white gloves and hats – to go to Blum’s for lunch and shopping in Union Square. We went to I. Magnin’s, City of Paris (now Needless Markup), Saks Fifth Ave (never bought anything there, just commented on how more expensive it was than I. Magnin’s) and then later on fell in love with Joseph Magnin’s, as it was eclectic and the clothes appealed more to our wild side.
People in the valley always looked to San Francisco for fashion. What’s trending now. Those of us lucky enough to shop there, set the style in our towns. In the late 60s fashion took a new freedom-of-expression spin evidenced by SF’s Haight Ashbury fashion shows (Mom had to drive by and check it out) during the Summer of Love and continued into the 70s. In the 1980s to my niece’s delight, Espirit and Jessica McClintook dominated the up and coming South of Market District of SF (or at least in her eyes they did) -where I had my office one floor below Laurel Burch – along with many other clothing and accessory designers, complementing the presence of Levi’s and The Gap in SF.
And today a new breed of designers, fueled by tech and fashion design tools, open their stores online, join in the pop up store fun in the city and sometimes move into a storefront. In San Francisco, you can always express who you are and wear what makes you feel good. Today’s designers pay attention to what consumers want and design it – e.g. – Hoodies? Go to the Marine Layer in the Marina.
Oftentimes students in fashion design at the Academy of Arts, CCAC or Art Institute of Ca, SF graduate and can only get jobs in NYC and LA or so they thought. The Fashion Industry is happening in SF and being pursued. The City of San Francisco has a new economic development program called FashionSF, which supports bringing back clothing manufacturing in the city. Macy’s now has Fashion Incubator SF for a select group of budding designers each year, imparting business insights within a training environment outfitted with apparel industry tools. And there are investors supporting the fashion/tech industry along with networking/meet-up groups like Digitally Chic providing a community for all the up and comings. Fashion never left the city.