Monday, April 23, 2012

The Ferry Building

The morning commute that drops off at the Ferry Building is one of my favorite approaches to San Francisco's Financial District. The sun seems to shine brightest here along the Embarcadero, especially in the morning! All forms of transit roll through this hub: buses, trains, cabs and shuttles, as well as the passenger-ferries which glide across the Bay from Marin and Oakland.

Inside the Ferry Building, there are so many intriguing shops and eateries. Offices line the second floor, all in neat rows, up near the gorgeous ceilings.

Temptation awaits every few paces as with this little pastry shop and its yummy-looking sweet meats and delicacies! The girls who work here are super friendly; they don't even mind if you take a picture  ~

I love the Beaux Arts, Classical Revival architecture of the Ferry Building. The high, arched ceilings and glass filter-in lots of light and imbue a sense of transcendent space and echo-y openness.

It is easy to imagine the busy atmosphere of a hundred years ago when an auto-ferry chugged across the Bay, and travelers hurried through the terminal, as they do today, perhaps not with the same opulence of artisan shops nor the assortment of gastronomic fare, but with the same rush of metropolitan excitement.

The Ferry Building was originally built in 1898 by New York architects whose design-inspiration came from that of an arched arcade. I think of New York's Grand Central Station, though on a much smaller scale. 

The Ferry Building's salient feature is a romantic, European clock-tower which can be seen from blocks away, and was designed to replicate a 12th century bell-tower in Seville.  Beautiful and eye-catching, the tower has probably always attracted people; although, the Ferry Building was, at various times, hidden from the wide view by a freeway and/or construction. In 2002 the building underwent major refurbishment and is now on the books as an historical landmark.

On Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market comes to the Ferry Building, luring residents and hungry, lunch-hour workers from their offices in the Financial District just across the Embarcadero boulevard. Lots of people love the Farmer's Market! 

The flower and gift shops inside the building and the kitchen and bath retailer, Sur La Table, are also very popular, but my favorite place to wander into is the book store, Book Passage. This little bookshop has a wonderful space with light streaming in from windows that look out on the water. I just love browsing around and leafing through a good assortment of new books and lots of magazines.

One last note of interest:  The actual building of the Ferry Terminal, in 1898, took place some thirty-five years before either the Golden Gate Bridge or the Bay Bridge were conceived, so the construction of the Ferry Terminal was a monumental undertaking and a milestone of building-ingenuity for the entire Bay Area. 

Also, with San Francisco's history of labor union strife, the whole project was undoubtedly a revolving door of labor and city-government politics. Such goes the way of posterity in the building and entrepreneurship of a great city like San Francisco. Today we are able to enjoy the intricate, transportation infrastructures and byways that were put in place generations ago, such as, the rails, tunnels and bridges limning the city and across the Bay.

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