A short walk out Market street takes you to the Civic Center, with the City Hall, Library, Auditorium and State Building grouped about a formal garden. The War Memorial, with its Opera House and American Legion Museum, will face the City Hall on Van Ness avenue.
Fronting the Pacific, San Francisco, which covers a trifle over 42 square miles of territory, has an ocean beach extending for three miles on its western boundary and overlooked by automobile highways. Street cars, starting at the Ferry Building, arrive at the beach after traversing residence districts and scenic routes, unfolding views of hills, forests, parks, forts, lighthouses and seals on rocks lashed by surf.
Between the Ferry Building and the ocean front—what a sweeping canvas it would take to suggest all this even in broad outline!
The “ships, towers, domes, theatres” which Wordsworth saw from Westminster Bridge in London are here, and so are the added motifs of San Francisco’s own song of seduction.
Ever has the glamour of the sea enveloped San Francisco. From the sea came Don Juan Manuel Ayala in the San Carlos in 1775, charting a course through the fog and opening the Golden Gate. From the, sea also came the Argonauts, transforming the somnolent Yerba Buena into the city, of San Francisco. And from the sea, up to the time of the railroad, came practically all of the goods with which the merchants of the city did business. Today with the sea ebbs and flows the tide of wealth that makes San Francisco the key port of the Pacific. The banks and exchanges of California and Montgomery streets, the foreign trade and insurance offices of Pine street, the downtown skyscrapers—all reflect in some way San Francisco’s debt to the sea.
From the sea also comes health. The breezes that blow from it and the fogs that drift down over the ridges combine to give San Francisco a paradoxical climate—winters as warm as those in the south and summers that are matchless for their exhilarating coolness.
San Francisco shows a higher per capita industrial output than any other American city of its class because of its ideal working conditions.
A city conscious of its obligation to the sea, San Francisco has always been interested in its waterfront, which perpetuates Spanish origins in its expressive name of Embarcadero—the embarking place.
The skyline of the city is no longer stenciled by the towering masts of sailing ships discharging or loading cargo, or lying in the stream or in Richardson’s Bay awaiting charters, as in the days when wheat was king of California’s great central valley. The virility of the waterfront of San Francisco, however, is as persistent as in the age that provided Frank Norris with his epic themes.