19th Century Fisherman’s ambition grows into a fascinating San Francisco City Tour destination
Visit San Francisco
Occupying the top of the itinerary for every visit San Francisco tour, its history, development and culture are deeply ingrained in the piers of Fisherman’s Wharf. It’s all about the water. There it is today, founded in 1891 and waiting for those who visit San Francisco to take full advantage of the heritage architecture, museums, restaurants, markets and seafood that have become the stars of this lively setting. One of the few visitors’ destinations that has grown up more naturally than most, the Wharf’s original authenticity speaks volumes about its genuine reality.
Look there on the corner, beyond the sign, to its left and you’ll see a handsome example of Art Deco architecture. The sign itself is famous the world over and, called the “Crab Wheel,” it’s the spot photographed the most by tours in San Francisco.
And there, at Pier 39, one of the walruses has made himself so at home he takes a nap. Looking around the Wharf, it’s hard to believe it looks nothing like it did in the mid-19thcentury.Today it houses a memorial to all the souls lost at sea next to a nice small shopping area, just right for relaxed strolling.
With the Gold Rush came a massive population explosion. The Italian entrepreneur-fishermen saw the event as an opportunity for profit. Among them, Achille Paladini, realizing the value of providing fine dining for the newly rich, made a fortune wholesaling the local crustaceans
With huge success and notoriety, he easily became the second wealthiest Italian in the ranks of the Italian population. Earning a stellar reputation, he was eventually known as the “Fish King.” With the fishermen settling the North Beach area, nearby the Wharf, they practiced their craft to the delight of diners feasting on the delicate Dungeness crab. A favorite of diners, it is still served today. Despite a brief falling off period of about 20 years the area has continued to be the base of San Francisco’s fishing fleet, and eventually regaining its popularity.
Cruising from the Wharf
2010 saw a $15 million renovation plan accepted by
the City. In the meantime, a list of destinations,
included on most tours in San Francisco, is long and growing:
Aquarium by the Bay
AT & T Park
Hyde Street Pier births an antique ship
Red & White Fleet
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
SS Jeremiah O’Brien-National Liberty Ship Memorial
San Francisco Maritime
Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf
If these don’t show visitors enough to do, a host of cruises, including a ferry to Alcatraz or Sausalito, is waiting to take them on Bay tours that travel out to the whale routes or around the bay to view the renowned neighborhood areas of the city.
Dining at the Wharf
Of the Wharf’s 31 restaurants, many have memorable seafood dishes, including the famous Dungeness crab. Celebrated on the welcoming crab wheel sign, its fabled history was begun by none other than Achille Paladini, the original Italian wholesaler who made his fortune with this and other crustaceans.
Events at the Wharf
Pier 39, opened in October, 1978, was founded by entrepreneur Warren Simmons and is one of the most popular areas at the Wharf. It hosts a number of attractions including a two-story carousel and an entertaining herd of resident sea lions. Located at the outer perimeter of the Wharf area, it is nearby Chinatown, North Beach and the Embarcadero—a high-energy shopping area favored by visitors who can easily spend the day.
It may take well over several days to get around to all that Fisherman’s Wharf has to offer. If only a small visit is the plan, tour guides escorting visitors on the best san francisco tours, will most assuredly include the Wharf’s high-value locations—and more, when visitors wish to linger.