The Waterfront

1849 Read More →
Historic Transit at the Ferry Building

San Francisco Waterfront (1849 – 1909) — [13 Images]

1849: The Gold Rush—San Francisco becomes the busiest and most important port on the West Coast

1898: A Page Brown designed Ferry Building is constructed on the Embarcadero at the foot of Market Street. The Ferry Building, originally called the Union Depot and Ferry House, designed by A. Page Brown, was constructed at the foot of Market Street, replacing the original wood frame structure built many years earlier. With its tall Beaux Arts tower and rhythmic arcades, the Ferry Building, San Francisco’s gateway to the world, immediately became the City’s iconic “postcard” representation until the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1938.

1849 Read More →

Impact on Other Waterfront Projects

1915 Read More →
San Francisco's Completed 'City Beautiful' Waterfront

Construction Begins on Civic Finger Piers 1, 1½, 3 and 5 (1918 – 1928) — [6 Images]

Construction begins on civic finger Piers 1, 1½, 3 and 5, at the heart of the San Francisco waterfront north of the Ferry Building.

The construction of these finger piers spanned over a decade and was led by Chief Engineer of the State Harbor Commission, Frank G. White. Pier 1 opened in 1931. Unlike the piers to the south of the Ferry Building, the piers to the north were built in the Beaux-Arts architectural style, similar to New York City’s Cunard Line and White Star Line Piers (of Titanic fame), designed by Warren and Wetmore, architects of New York’s Grand Central Station.

1918 Read More →
Panoramic View of Waterfront Construction

Pier 1 Completed — [4 Images]

Pier 1 is built. The concrete platform, supported by concrete beams and a 10’x10’ grid of concrete-jacketed wood piles, extends 703 feet into the Bay to the east behind the bulkhead building. The Pier is connected to a system of marginal wharves and sea walls upon which the bulkhead building rests—in other words, the bulkhead building was built principally on the land, while the pier platform and shed were built over the water on tall Douglas fir piles. The pier shed building, an elegant steel frame and concrete structure, was designed for the loading and unloading of ships. The open aprons on both the north and southern sides accommodated cargo loading and transport. Neither the bulkhead building, the pier platform nor the pier shed were laterally braced, and seismically could not meet contemporary building codes.

1931 Read More →

Partnering with the Port

1935 Read More →
Bay Bridge under construction in 1934

The Effect of the Bay Bridge — [4 Images]

The Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge opened, resulting in an almost instantaneous decline in ferry service. Overnight the Ferry Building’s and the nearby pier’s raison d’être became obsolete. Simultaneously there became a greater reliance on trucking as an important mode of goods distribution and shipping. The pier sheds’ internal column grids impeded truck maneuvering and the narrow pier aprons, designed specifically to accommodate trains, did not work well for trucks. This corresponded to periods of labor unrest, much of it focused on the Waterfront, the Port and its operations. It was here in San Francisco that important Labor Movement figures such as Harry Bridges emerged.

1936 Read More →

Preserving History

1940 Read More →
Pier 1 as a Parking Lot

Pier 1 and the Waterfront – Neglected and Forgotten — [6 Images]

Pier 1 used as a Parking Lot with miscellaneous office and retail uses in the Bulkhead Building. Finger Piers like Pier 1 had become dilapidated and obsolete and, with the 1953 construction of the Embarcadero Freeway, the once vibrant Port of San Francisco was cut off from its lifeblood, the City of San Francisco.

1960 Read More →
Collapsed Freeway after Loma Prieta Earthquake

Loma Prieta Earthquake Damages Embarcadero Freeway — [4 Images]

The Loma Prieta Earthquake occurred in October, badly damaging the Embarcadero Freeway.

1989 Read More →
Present Day Ferry Building

The City and the Waterfront Reconnected (1990 – 1993) — [7 Images]

After detailed engineering analysis and a public outcry spearheaded by the San Francisco design community, the decision was made to demolish the double decker elevated highway. Suddenly San Francisco and its waterfront had the chance to be reconnected, and the piers adjacent to the Ferry Building offered seemingly unlimited development opportunities.

1990 Read More →

Pier 1 and Public Access

1997 Read More →
Train Tracks in Pier 1 South Apron before Redesign

Competition Brief Issued by the Port of San Francisco — [5 Images]

With the demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway in the early 1990s, the Port of San Francisco made the decision to issue its initial Developer-Architect Public-Private RFP to re-purpose the first …

1998 Read More →
Pier 1 Proposed Elevations

Prologis/SWWM Team Produces Competition Entry — [13 Images]

Four teams submitted and the Prologis/SMWM team was selected to partner with the Port. This was the first Public-Private Partnership undertaken by the Port and set both the tone and process for the re-purposing of subsequent historic San Francisco finger piers.

1998 Read More →
Pier 1 Cross Section

Study of Existing Conditions at Pier 1 — [2 Images]

Prologis and SMWM/Perkins+Will (the wining design team) work to understand the existing conditions at Pier 1 including the exterior building envelope, seismic conditions and existing underwater structural conditions. Via the discovery of poor seismic conditions, and the need to redo underwater structure, the design team decides not to add parking as part of the pier development.

1998 Read More →
Pier 1 Interior

Renovation Completed, Prologis Moves In — [26 Images]

Prologis moved into its new headquarters, as did the Port of San Francisco and several notable tenants, including the venture capital firm of Weston Presidio and the Venture Law Group. 2000: The final workplace goals for the Pier 1 Project are articulated to drive the design.

These primary goals were to create a highly effective new work environment for Prologis in San Francisco. The workspace would be a testing ground for new concepts such as ways of using space and other resources efficiently: a workplace for the future. This combination of special building and unique location transformed the way Prologis works.

2001 Read More →
ULI Award

Pier 1 Honored with Awards

Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence – Best Rehabilitation 2001 San Francisco Business Times Real Estate Deals of the Year – Best Rehabilitation/Renovation 2001 Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Outstanding …

2001 Read More →

A New Era

“The rehabilitation of the Pier 1 bulkhead and shed was a historic moment for the Port and the City of San Francisco. The remarkable preservation and transformation of a cargo shipping pier into the Port’s headquarters has been recognized with numerous architectural and preservation design awards, and has allowed the public to learn about and appreciate San Francisco’s maritime history.”

Monique Moyer
Executive Director
Port of San Francisco

2001 Read More →