Today the San Francisco landmark Ferry Building in San Francisco is a modern emporium dedicated to the bounty of California food, and a symbol of the resolute spirit of the city. But, that hasn’t always been the case. In the early 1900s, before the construction of the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, the Ferry Building was one of the most active transit terminals in the world. Built in 1898 at the foot of Market Street, the large graceful building with its distinctive clock tower received thousands of ferry commuters daily from the East Bay and Marin County.
But starting in the 1930s, passengers abandoned the ferries in favor of the automobile and the newly built bridges. By the mid-1950s, the Ferry Building was a sad and neglected office space with all the natural light sources boarded up to make more cubicle space. The final blow came with the building of the Embarcadero Freeway — the Ferry Building San Francisco was completely walled off and virtually invisible.
The San Francisco Ferry Building is a bustling marketplace right on the water featuring tons of different stores, restaurants, and stands that attract both locals and tourists. Almost forgotten, the treasured San Francisco landmark somehow managed to survive. It took the earthquake of 1989 to bring the Ferry Building back into the limelight.
The freeway was irreparably damaged by the earthquake, and it was finally demolished in 1991. The sad Ferry Building was now in full public view, sparking plans for renewal, and work finally started in the late 1990s.
After four long years, the renovation was finally completed in 2003. The restored Ferry Building was reincarnated as a magnificent food hall with artisan shops, restaurants, cafes and a lively Farmer’s Market. Fresh organic Bay Area produce and artisan foods are the stars of the Farmer’s Market held every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There are several restaurants worth visiting, like Gott’s Roadside for ahi burgers, barbecued pulled-pork sandwiches, and duck confit tacos. Other faves include Charles Phan’s popular Vietnamese restaurant, The Slanted Door.
In addition to all the wonderful food shops, the Ferry Building San Francisco Marketplace is also home to Sur La Table, the amazing cookware shop, Book Passage (books & literary events), and our favorite, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant. The ferries have also returned, with routes to the best of Bay Area destinations — Alameda/Oakland, Sausalito, Larkspur, Harbor Bay Isle, and Tiburon/Vallejo.
My favorite retail experience is the San Francisco Ferry Building. It’s got one of the top farmer’s markets plus great retail shops all in one! The Ferry Building retail space opened up in March 2003 and revitalizes the original 1898 ferry terminal with a unique shopping experience featuring only local artisanal products from around the Bay Area. The outside farmer’s market is one of the largest in the nation and is widely acclaimed for the diversity and quality of the products. In this video I’ll feature products from Hog Island Oyster Farm, Miette Bakery, Cowgirl Creamery Artisanal Cheeses, and El Porteno’s Argentinian Empanadas.
Behind-the-Scenes Food Tour & Farmer’s Market
Take a culinary journey through the Ferry Building and experience the flavors of California like a local. You taste the best of San Francisco, Napa, and Sonoma.
A knowledgeable food expert guides you on this behind-the-scenes tour of the new epicenter of San Francisco gourmet food – the Ferry Building and it’s Farmer’s Market.
A Taste of the Ferry Building + Alcatraz Tour
Experience the best of two worlds. Meet your guide in front of the landmark Ferry Building in San Francisco and then learn about the historic structure while you sample local delicacies from Cowgirl Creamery, Boccalone’s Deli, Acme Bread, and Miette Patisserie.
Hunger satisfied you stroll along the Embarcadero to nearby Pier 33 to pick up your Alcatraz ferry. Cruise across the bay and then explore the island with the award-winning audio guided tour. There’s no rush, stay as long as you want (25 to life?), since ferries depart every 30 minutes.
We love the San Francisco Ferry Building! We’re always looking for the next best or newest thing at the San Francisco Ferry Building! Let us know if you’ve been to any of these places in the San Francisco Ferry Building and if there are other spots in the San Francisco Ferry Building you recommend!