Maritime history buffs as well as ship vessels aficionados should never miss Hyde Street Pier when visiting San Francisco which is part of the city?s Maritime National Historic Park. It is situated in the city?s northern waterfront and sits just a stone?s throw away from Fisherman?s Wharf which is one of San Francisco?s most frequented coastal attractions. Before the Golden Gate Bridge or the Bay Bridge, Hyde Street Pier played a significant role as it connected San Francisco with the Marin Country serving as the primary ferry terminal in the city. As such, the pier itself and the marine vessels it houses are undeniably living artifacts representing the rich Pacific Coast sea-faring history attracting thousands of visitors annually.
It is recommended that when visiting Hyde Street Pier, guests should stop by the Visitor Center to buy maps, books, and other helpful items that would make guests more informed about the long and colorful maritime heritage of San Francisco which could also help them better appreciate once they proceed with the actual tour. The Visitor Center also offers guided tours for those who want a more detailed and informative experience.
The main highlight of the Hyde Street Pier is the six historic vessels that are docked here. The oldest of which is Balclutha which was launched in 1886. It spans 301 feet long and has three masts. The Balclutha is a steel-hulled, square-rigged vessel which was used to contain different kinds of cargo to different parts of the world. It made its maiden voyage from Glasgow, Scotland and served as the home of 25 crew men and was able to circumnavigate Cape Horn in South America seventeen times.
The next ship on the list which is also the second oldest is C.A. Thayer which was meant to transport lumber from Oregon and Washington to San Francisco?s Bay Area. Compared to the Balclutha, the C.A. Thayer is smaller in size which carried a modest crew of seven members including the captain.
Third on the list of the historic vessels found in Hyde Street Pier is Eureka made in 1890. The makers of this ship employed a double-ended design which made disembarking and docking more convenient. A sidewheel paddle steamboat, the original engine of Eureka is perfectly intact.
Making her maiden voyage in 1891, the Alma which measures 80 feet in length was one of the 250 schooners which dominated the waters of the San Francisco Bay during the latter part of the 19th century. It is wooden-hulled and was used to ferry bulk cargos across the not-so-deep-waters of the Sacramento delta.
As powerful as it name implies, the Hercules was launched in 1907 and measures 151 feet in length which was purposed for ocean towing. The powerful steam tug has a sister ship which it pulled crossing the great waters from New Jersey to South America and finally to San Francisco. The Hercules also played a role at Pearl Harbor as well as in the creation of the Panama Canal.
Last on the list of the historic ships house in Hyde Street Pier is Eppleton Hall. The youngest among the six and made its debut voyage in 1914, Eppleton Hall?s main purpose was to tow coal barges. For its 65th birthday, the Eppleton Hall proved its strength when it voyaged from England to dock in San Francisco via the Panama Canal.
Guests can let their imaginations take them to the glory days of these historic vessels as they can climb on board and experience what it?s like to be on these ships. Aside from this, the Hyde Street Pier offers breathtaking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco Bays and the other neighboring destinations.