Introducing San Francisco
San Francisco, one of the United States' most bohemian cities, is located on the west coast of the USA overlooking one of the country’s best natural deep water harbors, San Francisco bay.
The city sits on numerous hills. The two highest are Mount Davidson and Mount Suttro, which both exceed 900ft in elevation. The two most well known are Nob Hill, the neighborhood choice of the rich and famous and Telegraph Hill, long favored as a center for artists and writers.
In 1769 Spanish settlers arriving from Mexico founded the Mission San Francisco de Asís as a missionary center with the aim of converting the indigenous Americans and the Presidio of San Francisco as an armed fort. Mexican ownership of the region was ceded to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848.
In January 1848, when James Marshall found gold dust in the America river near Comoa, San Francisco became the entrance port to the famed ‘El Dorado’, an almost legendary land of gold in the far West.
In the following years the small settlement grew into a city with the number of inhabitants increasing from 1400 to 23000.
By the beginning of the twentieth century San Francisco had become a prosperous cosmopolitan city of 400000 people, dubbed by many as the 'Paris of the West'.
As the productivity of the area’s commercial enterprises jumped the city was the only port available to handle goods exported out of the region. The city’s wealth boomed.
But San Francisco's rise to prominence was halted when in the early hours of April 18, 1906, a massive earthquake struck the city. The ground shook for no more than a minute, but terrible damage was wreaked. Raging fires broke out razing nearly three quarters of the city’s buildings. Within just a few weeks reconstruction began, and soon San Francisco's famed cable cars were running again.
In the 20th century San Francisco returned to flourishing times. Even in the dark days of World War II, the city was kept busy as a major mainland supply dump.
Today the city is a world center for industry, marketing and trade, and is also the home of a thriving deep water port.
San Francisco Cruise Port
San Francisco boasts 2 cruise terminals located on the Northeast Waterfront, the new facility at Pier 27 and an older facility at Pier 35.
Pier 27 Terminal
The newly built cruise terminal at Pier 27 opened in late 2014 as SF’s primary cruise terminal is named in honor of James R Herman, former president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Pier 35 has been relegated to a reserve cruise port.
Next to the terminal there is a new 2.7 acre public park bordered by the Embarcadero called the Northeast Wharf Plaza.
Pier 35 Terminal
Pier 35 was the terminal for the Matson Line’s distinctive white passenger liners until the 1970s. These operated passenger services and cruise vacations to the South Pacific, Australia and Hawaii until 1978.
The terminal is next to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, and within a short stroll from museums, theatres, hotels and attractions.
The terminal lacks all but the basic facilities, but there is one plus point. After you have embarked aboard your ship, go to the top deck, to appreciate the amazing views of San Francisco bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge and Alcatraz.
Parking facilities are available near the cruise port. There are two separate operations, Impark which runs 80 Francisco Street and Ace Parking which runs two locations 55 Francisco Street plus the Anchorage Center.
Out And About In San Francisco
Every year the Fisherman’s Wharf area draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to its numerous eclectic attractions.
Don’t miss things to do include the cable car terminus (Beach and Hyde), Aquatic Park, Ghirardelli Square, a two layer carousel (Pier 39), the USS Pampanito (Pier 45), bay cruises (Pier 43) and the SS. Jeremiah O'Brien (Pier 45).
San Francisco’s famous cable cars were designed by Andrew Smith Hallidie in the early 1870s to solve the problems of traversing the steep slopes between the new residential developments.
Today the city’s remaining 3 cable car lines are the last cable cars operated by hand anywhere.
No tour of SF is complete without a trip to the historic Market and Powell Street cable car turntable, one of the city’s most photographed attractions.
Over the 29 years it was served as a federal jail Alcatraz served as home to some 1576 of the US’s worst hoodlums including Arthur R. Barker, Robert Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), Alvin Karpis, Bumpy Johnson, James Bulger and Al Scarface Capone.
Although the last prisoners were moved away from the island more than half a century ago, the main prison block with its claustrophobic cells, foreboding mess hall and scary solitary holes even today evokes the atmosphere of those bygone days.
Alcatraz Island is located in San Francisco Bay, 1.5 miles from shore. An every half hour ferry service leaves from Pier 33, starting at 9.30am. Booking in advance is advisable.
Golden Gate Bridge
The famous Golden Gate Bridge, long an icon of San Francisco, joins the city to Marin. At the south east end of the bridge, the tourist can visit the Bridge Café and the Bridge Pavilion. At the south end of the bridge stands the impressive civil-war era Fort Point. It is perfectly possible to tour both the fort and the bridge on the same trip.
Despite the fact that many of the buildings in SF's Chinatown may not be truly Chinese in style, the food, inhabitants and traditions lend an authenticity to the neighborhood. Charming globe lanterns and dazzlingly printed streamers cross the avenues, which are lit at night by highly decorative 1920s streetlamps in the shape of a Chinese pagoda on two golden dragons. For a great photo opportunity, you'll want to take a picture of the Chinatown Gateway located at the Grant Avenue and Bush Street intersection. The gateway was constructed in 1970, and bears the saying 'All under heaven is for the good of the people'.
Getting To The Port
From SF Airport
A shuttle service or cab is the quickest way to transfer from the airport to the cruise terminal.
SF's cruise port is easy to reach via Highway 101. Driving north or south, turn off at Van Ness Avenue at Lombard Street/Van Ness Avenue, then make a right onto Bay Street. Keep on this road and finally it joins with Embarcadero.
Official Language English
Available cruises - see Cruises From San Francisco.
Golden Gate Bridge