Fisherman's Wharf : San Francisco Neighborhoods

Fisherman's Wharf/Jefferson Street

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Now: No one needs to be told that Fisherman's Wharf exists. Every tour bus, free map, and information brochure point to it as the ultimate San Francisco destination. This area, and its pinnacle, Pier 39, draw more visitors than any other place in the city. Locals largely avoid the area, but some admit a secret affection for its clownish representation of maritime history. On the good side, it's lively all the time, and tourists can make entertaining people-watching. On the bad side, restaurants here charge the highest pricest and don't come anywhere near the quality of what can be found in the neighborhoods.

Then: In the early settlement days, dock workers unloaded cargo while fishermen cast their nets and began to sell crabs and fish in shacks along the waterfront. City residents began to come for the fresh seafood and sea air. Sourdough bread did not originate here, but the particular style and flavor of San Francisco sourdough can be traced back to the mid-1800s and its popularity during the gold rush. The commercialization of the area became pronounced during the 1950s and 1960s, leaving a vague haze of mid-20th century retro charm. Pier 39 opened in 1978. See related postcards.

How To Get There: Many visitors try to drive directly to Fisherman's Wharf, and end up dealing with heavy traffic and expensive parking. Others take the Cable Cars, which can mean long lines. Walking from Union Square through Chinatown and North Beach lets you see a lot, and everyone should try that route once. It's about 20 blocks though, and some may not want to walk that far, let alone round trip. Another option is to take the 10 Muni bus from Sansome at Market Street, just northeast of the Montgomery Muni and BART station.


  • Aquatic Park, between Fort Mason and Fisherman's Wharf

  • Path along the west edge of Aquatic Park at the end of Van Ness Avenue

  • Beach at Aquatic Park

  • Aquatic Park, from the Maritime Museum above

  • Front doors of the Maritime Museum

  • Murals on the outer wall of the Maritime Museum

  • Promenade at the beach at Aquatic Park

  • San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, at the corner of Hyde Street and Jefferson Street

  • The northeast corner of Maritime Park at Hyde and Jefferson Streets

  • Ghiradelli Square from Aquatic Park

  • Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop, at Ghiradelli Square

  • Fountain in Ghiradelli Square courtyard

  • Courtyard in Ghiradelli Square

  • Cocoa Building, in Ghiradelli Square

  • Shop inside Ghiradelli Square

  • Kara's Cupcakes in Ghiradelli Square

  • Private Residence Club at Ghiradelli Square

  • Cellar 360 Wine Tasting, in Ghiradelli Square

  • Polk-19 line bus starting point at Beach Street, in front of Ghiradelli Square

  • Cable Car Turnaround at the end of the Powell-Hyde line, at Aquatic Park

  • Waiting in line for the Cable Car

  • Hyde Street Cable Car Turnaround at Maritime Park

  • Cable Car 15, built from scratch using old blueprints at a cost of $823,000

  • Inside Cable Car 15

  • Looking down toward the bay from the standing side of the Cable Car

  • Looking forward from the edge of the Cable Car on Hyde Street

  • Gary Danko Restaurant, on North Point at Hyde Street

  • The Hyde Street Pier, on the north end of Hyde Street at Jefferson Street

  • Boat tethered at the Hyde Street Pier

  • Boats along the east side of the Hyde Street Pier

  • The Balclutha, at the Hyde Street Pier

  • The bow of the Balclutha

  • Ramp from the Hyde Street Pier to the Balclutha

  • Boat hanging at the Hyde Street Pier

  • Looking south toward Ghiradelli Square from the Hyde Street Pier and bow of the Balclutha

  • Looking south at the walkway on the Hyde Street Pier

  • Shore near the entrance to the Hyde Street Pier

  • Beach at the Hyde Street Pier

  • The Cannery courtyard, at Leavenworth between Jefferson and Beach Street

  • Pirates on Jefferson Street

  • Shops on Jefferson Street

  • Sidewalk on Jefferson Street

  • Tarantino's

  • Guardino's, at the corner of Taylor and Jefferson Streets

  • Ride the Ducks vehicle, parked at Fisherman's Wharf

  • Joe's Crab Shack

  • Majestic Collection, with merchandise that you definitely want

  • Magnet Kingdom

  • Fisherman's Wharf

  • Fishermen's Grotto and Aliotos have been at this spot for a long time

  • Entrance to the Musee Mecanique - Pier 45, at the end of Taylor Street

  • A Laughing Sal model, at the Musee Mecanique

  • Inside the Musee Mecanique

  • Front entrance to the Boudin Bakery center, at Fisherman's Wharf

  • Part of the Boudin Bakery Cafe complex

  • The Rainforest Cafe, on Jefferson Street near Mason Street

  • Front of a sightseeing bus parked at Fisherman's Wharf

  • Terminal point for Powell-Mason line Cable Cars at Taylor and Francisco Streets

  • Cable Cars waiting for turnaround on Taylor Street

  • Boarding the Cable Car at the turnaround point at Taylor and Bay Streets

  • Interior of a Cable Car parked at the Taylor and Bay Street turnaround

  • Side of an empty Cable Car

  • Pat's Cafe, on Taylor Street, across from the Cable Car turnaround

  • Foot traffic on Jefferson Street from Pier 39 walkway

  • Hard Rock Cafe at the entrance to Pier 39

  • Pier 39, above the entrance

  • Tulip planters on walkway at Pier 39

  • Fog Harbor Fish House

  • Pier 39 shops

  • Carousel horse at Pier 39

  • Walkway on west side of Pier 39

  • Sea Lions at Pier 39

  • Performance stage at Pier 39

  • Alcatraz from the end of Pier 39

  • Sale merchandise at Pier 39

  • Taxis waiting at the Pier 39 entrance

  • The Bush Man, paid to scare people since 1980