A new nostalgic but modern sign was unveiled at San Francisco’s Ferry Building today that will provide the departure times for ferries from the building.

A retro “flap sign” with an embedded microprocessor now hangs in the Great Nave of the Ferry Building that displays information about the various ferries to Vallejo, Oakland, Alameda, Larkspur, Sausalito, Tiburon and Angel Island.

Anne Halsted, a commissioner with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which oversaw the project, said the sign “matches the beauty and history of the Ferry Building.”

San Francisco Board of Supervisors president David Chiu said the sign not only marks the intersection of land and sea, but also of the city’s history and its future.

Chiu said the sign is in “one of the historic gems of our country,” but is also a symbol of “our city’s future, that we are a capital of innovation.”

The ticking sound of the rotating flaps on the signs “brings you back and takes you to a different era,” said Jay Stagi, project manager for the MTC’s hub signage program.

The 8-by-5-foot sign, which cost $110,000, was manufactured in Italy and took about six months to assemble. It faces west to greet the 11,000 ferry passengers and other visitors served daily by the Ferry Building.

The MTC’s hub signage program hopes to install or improve signage and other displays at two-dozen transit sites around the Bay Area by September.

Photos of the flap sign and other installations in the program can be found online at www.mtc.ca.gov/news/photos/hub_signage.htm.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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