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  • Civic Piers early 20th Century
  • Ships Docking at Civic Piers early 20th Century
  • Civic Piers along the Waterfront
  • Docking at Civic Piers
  • Waterfront Site later to become Pier 1
  • San Francisco's Completed 'City Beautiful' Waterfront

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

Construction began on Civic Finger Piers 1, 1½, 3 and 5, at the heart of the San Francisco’s 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. The timber-frame bulkhead buildings, clad in stucco, were built two stories high, punctuated by a central two-story archway to allow passage of a train through the building out onto the Piers’ south apron. Behind the formal bulkhead buildings were the warehousing areas essential to the functioning of the Port—the pier and its associated shed. Interestingly, the dual goals of these civic bulkhead structures were both creating an appropriately grand and dignified civic waterfront edge for the Embarcadero and, just as important, ensuring security for the warehousing operations. The highly functional pier sheds themselves, with their rhythm of obscuring cargo doors and translucent glass windows, furthered the pervasive sense of necessary secrecy that characterized the break-bulk shipping operations of the time.


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