Before the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1933 (and its completion in 1937), residents of the San Francisco metro area had few options when it came to crossing the expansive bay that separated the Marin headlands from the city proper and the East Bay communities. One such mode of transport was via ferry—there was a complex series of ferries that criss-crossed the bay. The ferry pier at Hyde Street was the primary automobile crossing of the bay, running to both Sausalito and Berkeley. Ferry service eventually ran aground in 1944, seven years after the completed bridge. Passenger service still remains, operating from a different pier down shore.
At present, the pier is smack dab in the middle of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park complex, and adjacent to the tourist-centered Fisherman’s Wharf. The area itself is teeming with attractions related to San Francisco’s maritime past—some of the most intriguing exhibits and activities are anchored right against the Hyde Street Pier. Over one hundred smaller craft dot the marina. Similarly, one can take self-led or guided tours through a variety of historic vessels. The 1886 steel-hulled and square-rigged Balclutha calls the pier home, as well as the schooners C.A. Thayer and Alma, the tugboats Eppleton Hall and Hercules, and the old commuter ferry Eureka. You can find more about the park—ticketing, parking, directions, fees, and schedules—at http://www.nps.gov/safr/planyourvisit/index.htm