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Annual Meeting
Ferry Building, Fisherman's Wharf: Hot Spots, Old Favorites
Psychiatric News
Volume 44 Number 5 page 22-22

To truly capture the ambience of San Francisco, you need to stroll along the Embarcadero—a thoroughfare lined with palms that fronts on San Francisco Bay.

The Embarcadero was built as an embankment. It derives from the Spanish word "embarcar," or "place to embark." Formerly it was flanked by an unsightly double-decked freeway. The freeway was damaged in an earthquake in 1989 and subsequently torn down, opening up sweeping views of the Bay and the city.FIG1

The Embarcadero begins on the east side of the city at the intersection of Second and King streets near AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, and travels north, passing under the Oakland Bay Bridge.

A long the Embarcadero are two of San Francisco's most colorful and visited venues—the Ferry Building, located on the Embarcadero at Market Street, and Fisherman's Wharf, located along the Embarcadero west of Pier 39.

Even back during the time of the California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century, the Embarcadero had a wooden ferry house on it. In 1898 the wooden house was replaced with the large steel-framed Ferry Building. It was so well built that it survived the formidable earthquake of 1906. The building was gloriously renovated a few years ago, and its former baggage area is now an enticing marketplace with eateries and shops that encourage visitors to tarry. Its produce shops have such fanciful names as Cowgirl Creamery's Artisan Cheese Shop, Hog Island Oyster Company, and the Kingdom of Herbs.

City Guides, a nonprofit volunteer organization, offers free walking tours of the Ferry Building. From the Ferry Building, you can also catch a ride to various parts of the East Bay or Marin County. Such rides provide spectacular, panoramic views of San Francisco and a chance for inhaling some tangy bay air.FIG2

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In spite of its flamboyance, or perhaps because of it, Fisherman's Wharf has been ranked in some surveys as the number-one tourist destination in San Francisco. It offers barking sea lions, street performers, an aquarium, historic sailing ships, and a World War II submarine, not to mention oodles of restaurants and souvenir shops and a glorious view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. 

Credit: SFCVB photo by Jerry Lee Hayes

Fisherman's Wharf, in contrast, offers boisterous crowds, street performers, a wax museum, a Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, an aquarium, a fleet of historic sailing ships, a World War II submarine, and a vast collection of seafood restaurants and souvenir establishments. Barking sea lions add to the rumpus. "Fisherman's Wharf is great for a half-hour daytime stop for fresh sourdough, for which the wharf is famous; seafood; and souvenirs for your friends back home," one visitor reported. "I also loved riding on one of the charter sailboats that leave from the wharf."

Fisherman's Wharf got its start in 1853 thanks to a man named Henry Meiggs, according to the book Crab Is King: The Colorful Story of Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Meiggs, the book states, was "a scheming, nefarious, unscrupulous businessman who got run out of town with a vengeful posse nipping at his heels." Fortunately he left his wharf behind. It eventually became a mooring for fishing boats—hence its eventual name," Fisherman's Wharf." It also became a weekend promenade for sunbathers and swimmers who rented bathhouses. It had a museum in which an" educated" pig played cards, a saltwater tub bathing emporium, and a place where people could try to climb a greased pole and claim a $5 gold piece on top.

The wharf's excesses did not cease with the end of the 19th century. In 1963 one wharf entrepreneur taught penguins to skateboard. Today the wharf's attractions are perhaps more conventional than skateboarding penguins, but nonetheless fun to visit.

In spite of its flamboyance, or perhaps because of it, Fisherman's Wharf has been ranked in some international surveys as the number-one tourist destination in San Francisco, even beating San Francisco's beloved Chinatown and the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge.

Another interesting nearby place to visit is the Embarcadero Center, which features more than 100 retail shops and restaurants, a five-screen cinema, and services to meet visitors' every need.

Information about the Ferry Building and its marketplace is posted at<www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com>. Information about Fisherman's Wharf is posted at<www.fishermanswharf.org>.

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In spite of its flamboyance, or perhaps because of it, Fisherman's Wharf has been ranked in some surveys as the number-one tourist destination in San Francisco. It offers barking sea lions, street performers, an aquarium, historic sailing ships, and a World War II submarine, not to mention oodles of restaurants and souvenir shops and a glorious view of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. 

Credit: SFCVB photo by Jerry Lee Hayes

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