Before the Golden Gate Bridge, there was Hyde Street Pier

Didn’t realize how much time had lapsed since my last post. I thought we could go back to California and finish off our tour of the piers in San Francisco.

If you keep walking towards the Hyde Street cable car stop, on the other side of the street from the cable car stop is Hyde Street Pier. Before the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge were erected, this is where you would catch the ferry boat to Sausalito.  Today, the pier is part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park where you’ll find some historical ships. You can even see Alcatraz clearly from the end of the pier. It looks like it’s much closer as well.

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park





The ferry boat on the right, behind the sign “Hyde St. Pier” is the Eureka built in 1890. It used to be the commuter ferry from San Francisco to Sausalito until 1941 when the ferries were cancelled. At the time, the Eureka could carry up to 2,300 passengers and 120 automobiles. I didn’t think it was that big but then I have a poor judgement of space. Some interesting facts about the Eureka from the NPS site:

  • Overall length 299.5 feet
  • Extreme Width 78 feet
  • Gross Tonnage 2420
  • Horsepower 1500
  • Passengers 2300
  • Automobiles 120
  • Eureka is a wooden-hulled, sidewheel paddle steamboat.
  • From the passenger deck up, she is nearly identical fore and aft.
  • Her “double-end” design made disembarking quicker and easier.
  • Eureka’s large “walking beam” steam engine remains intact.




This is Hercules, a steam tugboat built in 1907 and went out of service in 1962.


Hercules with Alcatraz in background to its right.



I really don’t know much about ships but the Balclutha, also known as Star of Alaska, Pacific Queen, or Sailing Ship Balclutha, caught my eye and wondered how many people it takes to maintain a ship like this in the water. It looks like a lot of work with all those rigging. Here are some facts on this ship from the NPS site:

  • Overall length 301 feet
  • Length of Deck 256.5 feet
  • Beam 38.6 feet
  • Depth 22.7 feet
  • Gross Tonnage 1689
  • Height of Mainmast 145 feet
  • Balclutha is a three-masted, steel-hulled, square-rigged ship built to carry a variety of cargo all over the world.
  • Launched in 1886 by the Charles Connell and Company shipyard near Glasgow, Scotland, the ship carried goods around Cape Horn (tip of South America) 17 times.
  • It took a crew of about 26 men to handle the ship at sea with her complex rigging and 25 sails.

Did you know that it took about 6 months to sail from Cardiff, Wales to San Francisco back in 1887. That’s a long time to be out on the water. (I wonder if it would still take that long today.) This ship has had quite the career from being a British Deepwaterman, Salmon Packet and a movie star! Yup, it was in the film Mutiny on the Bounty starring Clark Gable. Read up on the voyages of the Balclutha here. It’s fascinating and also glad that such a ship has been restored for the rest of us to appreciate.



(via National Park Service)


There are many more ships in the area. Go ahead and explore. If you’ve brought swimming trunks, feel free to jump in the water. I noticed an entrance into a small beach just behind the Park Store.

See what I mean? Alcatraz looks so close…


What else is around the area? There’s the Cannery, Ghirardelli Square and of course, the cable car stop!





About May Dayao

Carpe diem!
This entry was posted in California, Travel, USA and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Before the Golden Gate Bridge, there was Hyde Street Pier

  1. andy1076 says:

    I love it! beautiful photos of the past in contrast with what’s there now 🙂

  2. Adding it to my list of places to visit next time I’m in in this area. : )

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