Just a few miles away

Let's take a short drive south to San Francisco, shall we? The fabulous Blue Angels were astonishing the masses in The City over the weekend. Though I was not fast enough or close enough to capture most of their aerobatics on camera, I did watch from Twin Peaks, high over the city by the bay, and snapped this bicyclist taking his own picture of the remarkable view below us. All the while the Blue Angels were zipping to and fro, skimming the waters of the bay and buzzing the Golden Gate Bridge, but they didn't make it into this particular image.

And while we're in San Francisco, let's visit the Ferry Building, which just picked up an award for "Great Places in America –– Public Spaces of 2010," bestowed by the American Planning Association. One of only 10 public spaces given the honor, the Ferry Building is part of the APA's list of 30 Great Places, which also includes 10 winners in the Great Neighborhoods category and 10 in the Great Streets category.

The Slanted Door at the Ferry Building
But back to the Ferry Building: It is, indeed, one of the great spots to watch the world come and go, and to enjoy some fabulous food, too. At the peak of its use in the 1930s, 50,000 people passed through the Ferry Building each weekday to traverse the waters of the bay, a figure trumped only by Charing Cross Station in London at the time (and this was before the Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge were opened). Later, a bad decision to build a freeway practically on top of the Ferry Building –– and some unfortunate interior design choices –– kept the building in a sad state for several decades. Underappreciated and taken for granted, it continued to languish and deteriorate. Then in 1989, when the Loma Preita earthquake shook up San Francisco, that ugly and pointless Embarcadero freeway sustained enough damage to be demolished, and the Ferry Building could actually breathe again –– and be seen, too. And what a sight it is.

Cowgirl Creamery
Though it took a few years of planning to get the renovation underway and subsidized, the Ferry Building reopened in 2003 not only as a terminal for more than 10,000 commuters arriving and departing on ferries each day, but with a year-round Farmers Market, restaurants (The Slanted Door, for instance), a wine store, gourmet shops (such as Cowgirl Creamery), and specialty grocers.

Any trip to Wine Country should include a day or two in San Francisco (and if you've flown into SFO, it usually does). When you visit, make time to explore the Ferry Building.

No comments:

Post a Comment