The San Francisco Ferry Building is a terminal for ferries that travel across the San Francisco Bay, a marketplace, and also has offices, located on The Embarcadero in San Francisco, California. On top of the building is a 245-foot tall clock tower, with four clock dials, each 22 feet in diameter, which can be seen from Market Street, a main thoroughfare of the city. Designed by American architect A. Page Brown in the Beaux Arts style in 1892, the ferry building was completed in 1898. At its opening, it was the largest project undertaken in the city up to that time. Brown designed the clock tower after the 12th-century Giralda Bell tower in Seville, Spain, and the entire length of the building on both frontages is based on an arched arcade.
The present structure was designed in 1892 by A. Page Brown, a New York architect who had started with McKim, Mead and White, and later moved to California. Influenced by studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, he designed the clock tower after the 12th-century Giralda bell tower in Seville, Spain. Opened in 1898, the building replaced a wooden predecessor. Brown designed it to satisfy needs of an industrial society in high style associated with traditional buildings; the entire base is an arched arcade reminiscent of European buildings. The highest quality materials were used, such as marble and mosaics for the state seal. The 660-foot-long Great Nave on the second floor was the major public space for arriving and departing ferry passengers.
Until the completion of the Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930s, which began to carry railroad traffic, the Ferry Building was the second busiest transit terminal in the World, second only to London's Charing Cross Station. After the bridges opened, and the new Key System trains began running to the East Bay from the Transbay Terminal in 1939, passenger ferry use fell sharply. In the second half of the twentieth century, although the Ferry Building and its clock tower remained a part of the San Francisco skyline, the condition of the building interior declined with changes. Beginning in the 1950s, unsympathetic renovations installed a mezzanine level, broke up the grand space of the Great Nave, and partitioned the ticketing counters and waiting room areas into office space. The formerly grand public space was reduced to a narrow and dark corridor, through which travelers passed en route to the piers. Passengers were made to wait for ferries on outdoor benches, and the ticketing booths were moved to the pier.
In 2003, the building reopened after the restoration of major public spaces, as well as renovations for new uses: it has a re-dedicated ferry terminal, an upscale gourmet marketplace in the former baggage area featuring local goods, and upper floors adapted for office use. The restoration project spanned several[quantify] years, with an emphasis on recreating the building's 1898 spacious ambiance; for example, the Great Nave was restored.
San Francisco Municipal Railway's F Market And Wharves heritage streetcar line has a station located on the pedestrian plaza in front of the Ferry Building. In addition, the main line of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system runs under the building. The dock area on the eastern side is used as the transition point from the Transbay Tube to the Market Street Subway. The Embarcadero Station a block away is a BART and Muni Metro station; it connects the terminal with the city, East Bay and Peninsula. The terminal is also served by Vallejo Baylink buses (operated by SolTrans) and Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach.