It’s always an unplanned surprise on Saturdays, when I head into San Francisco and discover the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market.
Held every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday along the lower half of Market Street and in The Embarcadero, the streets are filled with fresh Californian vegetables and fruit, artists, street food, and food artisans selling wine, chocolate, oils, honey, jams, sausages, and so much more. All food is sustainable and organic; the market is run by CUESA (love the seasonality charts on their website).
The building that silently sits in the background is the SF Ferry Terminal and is one of the oldest surviving structures along San Francisco’s waterfront. This particular building was completed in 1903 and survived both the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.
I found a couple of interesting videos on YouTube from 1906. The first video was taken just 4-days before the earthquake. The person making the film is traveling down Market Street towards the waterfront. In the distance you can see the Ferry Terminal looking much like it appears today (at the end of the video you see the building up close).
This next video is taken after the earthquake. As the camera travels down Market Street you see crumbled buildings and destruction, but like in the previous video at the end of Market Street the Ferry Terminal is still standing tall.
While seemingly impervious to earthquakes, the building did not fare well during the 1940s and 1950s. With the growing affordability of the automobile and completion of the Bay Area bridges (1930s), people preferred to drive the distance. Also, view of the building was largely obscured in 1959 by the Embarcadero Freeway. Only after the destruction of the Freeway during the 1989 earthquake was the terminal fully seen again.
After the 1989 earthquake the Ferry Building and Embarcadero were “rediscovered.” Part of the city’s revitalization plan was to make the Ferry Building a centralized and thriving marketplace with coffee shops, restaurants, and local retailers. The tri-weekly Farmers’ Market is an added bonus and helps the area thrive by attracting people to the Embarcadero.