Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Shipping Lanes

It's strange how so many cities turned their backs on their own rivers and ports that originally put them on the map and made them a magnet for other people. Some cities have lately rediscover their waterfronts -- Portland, Oregon, is a great West Coast example. Seattle is still struggling with its frontage on Elliott Bay, ringed as it is by a dangerous double-decker monstrosity called The Alaskan Way. Whether the resolution to bury the roadway and once again open the waterfront to the city holds is to be seen. Seattle has a record of missed civic opportunities. San Francisco is two decades into a rehabilitation of the Embarcadero Freeway after its demolition. The City inherited the problems of the deteriorating Port of San Francisco properties in the early 1970s and did little with it until 1989 when the Loma Prieta Earthquake quickened development options by necessitating the elimination of the freeway.
Plans for the yachting event, America's Cup, in 2013 are still being negotiated, but will surely turn attention to the big picture along the entire waterfront rather than piecemeal, decades-long projects. Momentum seems to be moving away from siting a major cruise ship terminal near Pier 39 in favor of Pier 70 south of the Bay Bridge by Dogpatch. The size of liners today does pose a huge edifice, a skyscraper on the Bay in fact, eclipsing Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower; admittedly, a huge impact. There's talk, too, of resume more ferry service around the Bay which could help better stitch the wider Bay Area to The City.
I snapped this self portrait along the piers just north of the Ferry Building along The Promenade, an improved boardwalk that runs through and around piers away from the busy roadway. It's a lovely, quiet walkway with well-kept flower baskets, benches and new restaurants.

Shipping Lanes
The Ferry Building, fully repurposed as a gourmet marketplace in 2003, anchors the San Francisco waterfront revival. With so many enormous piers beyond it yet to be rehabilitated and the dearth of activity on the opposite side of the roadway, there's still a lot of room for rehab & improvements on San Francisco's Waterfront to make it a more dynamic destination worthy of the city behind it.

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