The Port of San Francisco is celebrating 150 years serving the city’s waterfront and maritime community and held an anniversary bash at Pier 39 Wednesday.
More anniversary celebrations and events are planned at venues along the waterfront Sunday.
At the entryway to Pier 39 late Wednesday morning, jugglers, a man on stilts, and a piano player welcomed Mayor Ed Lee, San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and Port Executive Director Monique Moyer, who each lauded the city’s waterfront development and its history.
“There’s a lot of generations of people who came to this city,” Lee said, “who helped us establish Fisherman’s Wharf and all the maritime uses this waterfront has.”
Chiu, whose district includes the wharf and other tourist, commercial and recreational areas along the Bay, recalled the vital history of the port.
“The port has defined our past,” he said. “The waterfront and our port define who we are in the present.”
He mentioned various recent development and improvement projects along the seawall spanning from the northern end of Golden Gate to the southern waterfront, including the Exploratorium science museum at Piers 15 and 17, the cruise terminal at Piers 27 and 29 and plans for a Golden State Warriors basketball arena to be built at Piers 30 and 32 in 2017.
It’s Happy 150th birthday for Port of San Francisco [Chron]
The festivities continued with a round of singing “Happy Birthday” before the mayor and other dignitaries sliced a birthday cake.
Moyer told the crowd, which included local business owners, current and former port commissioners and other guests, such as passing tourists, that Pier 39 was a “perfect place to celebrate.”
Despite today’s festive spirit about the waterfront, Lee acknowledged that the cancellation of the Blue Angels precision flight demonstration at this year’s Fleet Week in October is “disappointing.”
He said he hopes to meet with officials in Washington, D.C., about federal sequestration cuts that went into effect last month.
The mayor said he is hopeful that the U.S. Navy will have “room to recover” with other events that display the city’s emergency preparedness efforts and other military and veteran contributions to the city.
Moyer teamed up with Carl Nolte, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter and city historian, to then lead a waterfront tour on a Blue and Gold Fleet cruise that left this afternoon from Pier 41.
The boat skimmed the water along the city’s edge where Nolte reflected on Bay Area history, while Moyer highlighted future plans for Port-owned areas.
As the boat passed the Aquatic Park, Ghiradelli Square and Alcatraz, Nolte spoke about the tourist draw these locales and other Bay destinations have, such as the former island prison that has about roughly 1.5 million visitors each year.
The cruise then approached Pier 35 that is the current cruise ship terminal where a massive Celebrity Cruise ship was docked this afternoon.
“This pier has serves us so very well,” Moyer said, noting that it was erected in 1918 when cargo ships also docked at its berth.
She compared that terminal to the newly constructed James R. Herman Cruise Terminal at Piers 27 and 29 that will also serve as the America’s Cup sailing competition pavilion and village starting this June before becoming operational for cruise ships in 2014.
She said Pier 27 is the city’s longest pier that is built on a diagonal and reaches 1,100 feet into the Bay.
She then pointed out nearby piers 19 and 23.
“They are looking a little derelict,” she said, adding that the port is looking to renovate those buildings as a future project.
As the boat continued south toward the Bay Bridge, it passed Pier 1 and the Ferry Building, the iconic home of the Port.
Nolte called the Ferry Building a symbol of the city that was built in 1898 before it lost its luster into the late 20th century.
The Port stepped in and helped transform the space at the foot of Market Street once again into a bustling marketplace after a restoration project in 2003.
On the southside of the Ferry Building, Nolte shared facts about the even-numbered piers including water-based fire station No. 35 at Pier 22 ½ where a fire boat is docked.
He also noted the Brannan Street Wharf where the now demolished Pier 36 once stood that served as an Asian immigration entry point before Angel Island, located near the Golden Gate Bridge, was appropriated for that purpose in 1910.
The boat then approached McCovey Cove and the backside of AT&T Park where the Giants were playing a day game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Nolte said the concept of building a stadium on the waterfront before 2000 was shocking to many city officials.
“The amazing thing about building this stadium,” he said, “is that people take ferries to get to games.”
The San Francisco Bay, Vallejo Baylink and Golden Gate ferries shuttle passengers from Marin, Alameda, and Solano Counties to the ballpark.
A Maritime Day anniversary celebration for the public will be held on Sunday to showcase the various services and venues the port provides along the edge of the city.
Activities and events will take place from the Hyde Street Pier to Heron’s Head Park at Pier 98.
Ferry, cruise and other boat tours on the Blue and Gold Ferry Fleet, Red and White Cruise Fleet, and Hornblower Cruises will leave from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. from piers 43 ½, 41, 33 and the Ferry Building, while kayaking trips from the Aquatic Park to the Bayview will take off between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
For those looking to stay on solid ground, bicycle and walking tours along the waterfront will meet and take off from various locations, while a tour of the Giants baseball field and other parts of AT&T Park will be available.
Additionally there are a slew of lectures, speaker events, open houses aboard military ships, at museums, and other port facilities.
A waterfront treasure hunt at 11 a.m. will send participants all over various piers searching for clues.
More information about anniversary activities is available at sfport.com/150.