Alcatraz, a former prison, is now a National Park and one of the city's most popular attractions.
A mile and a half from Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz was the site of the first lighthouse built on the Pacific Coast, then a federal prison for such notorious convicts as Al Capone. Now it is one of the city's most popular attractions.
Alcatraz was the site of the first lighthouse in the Western United States but became a federal penitentiary from 1934-1963, housing famous convicts such as Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. Now, this once infamous prison island is part of the Bay Area’s 80,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Located one-and-a-half miles from Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz is one of the city's most popular attractions. A visit to the island includes a tour of the cell house where visitors can see where the prisoners lived. Although the last inmates were transferred off the island in 1963, the main prison block with its steel bars, claustrophobic (9 x 5-foot) cells, mess hall, library and "dark holes," where recalcitrant languished in inky blackness, is still structurally intact.
For additional information, contact the National Park Service at www.nps.gov/alcatraz
GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
The Golden Gate Bridge is #1 on every visitor's list.
Once called "the bridge that couldn't be built," today it is one the seven wonders of the modern world. This magnificent span, perhaps San Francisco's most famous landmark, opened in 1937 after a four-year struggle against relentless winds, fog, rock and treacherous tides.
Crossing the strait of the Golden Gate from San Francisco's Presidio to the Marin headlands for 1.7 miles is the world-renowned Golden Gate Bridge, easily identified by its International Orange color. Opened in 1937, the bridge was built at a cost of $35 million in principal and $39 million in interest and 11 workers’ lives. The single-suspension span is anchored by twin towers that reach skyward 746 feet, and was once taller than any building in San Francisco. To support the suspended roadway, two cables, each more than 7,000 feet in length and both containing 80,000 miles of wire stretch over the top of the towers and are rooted in concrete anchorages on shore. More than 10 years in planning due to formidable opposition, but only four years in actual construction, the Golden Gate Bridge brought the communities of San Francisco and Marin counties closer together.
General Visitor Info
Pedestrians including wheelchair users and bicyclists can go on the sidewalks of the bridge during daylight hours but roller blades, skateboards and roller skates are not permitted. There are vista points on both north and south sides of the bridge with parking lots. For information on sidewalk closures due to construction, visit www.goldengatebridge.org/bikesbridge/bikes.php
Coit Tower, a gift to the city, is unmistakable in the city's skyline.
At the summit of historic Telegraph Hill sits the 210-foot Coit Tower, also known as Coit Memorial Tower. This elegant tapering column was built in 1933, the legacy of San Francisco’s colorful Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who left a $125,000 bequest "for the purpose of adding beauty to the city which I have always loved." The ground floor lobby is adorned with a series of fresco murals by some 30 local artists, depicting life in 1930s San Francisco. They were nationally controversial when opened to the public. The artists and murals were funded by President Roosevelt’s New Deal pilot art program, the Public Works of Art Project. The project was such a success, public buildings around the country were decorated with similar artwork. They remain a colorful, insightful look back to a difficult time, The Great Depression, in American history. Guided docent tours are available.
General Visitor Info
Advance elevator ride tickets to view spectacular 360 degree city views and reservations for guided docent led tours of the Tower murals are available on site or online.
The cable cars have made their mark on not just the city, but pop culture as well. Learn how to find them, the neighborhoods they service, fun facts and famous movies they appear in.
San Francisco is one of the few places in the world where people can ride on a national historic landmark. The cable cars are the world's last manually operated cable car system, a tramway whose cars are pulled along by cables embedded in the street.
These right-out-of-the-Smithsonian cable cars were named a national historic landmark in 1964. Refurbished and equipped with new tracks, cables, turnarounds and cable propulsion machinery, they operate much as they did on Aug. 2, 1873 when Andrew S. Hallidie guided the first car down the Clay Street grade.
General Visitor Info
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) runs three cable car lines. The three cable lines are:
Powell-Hyde (Running from Hallidie Plaza to Fisherman's Wharf via Powell and Hyde Streets.)
Powell-Mason (Running from Hallidie Plaza to Fisherman's Wharf via Powell and Mason Streets.)
California Street (Running from Market Street to Van Ness Avenue via California Street.)
Home to San Francisco's cutest residents, Fisherman's Wharf will put a smile on your face every time.
More than 75 percent of San Francisco's visitors include Fisherman's Wharf on their itinerary. The Wharf's famous fishing fleet make for a terrific fish story, while souvenir shops in the waterfront marketplace and historic ships add to the atmosphere. Fishing boats, sea lions basking in the sun, seafood stalls and restaurants, steaming crab cauldrons, family entertainment and sourdough French bread bakeries … you know you’re in world-famous Fisherman’s Wharf. The historic F-Line streetcar and two cable car lines terminate in the area and sightseeing boats and boat charters link to Alcatraz ("The Rock"), Angel Island and other points around San Francisco Bay.