PUBLISHED IN: Four Alameda newspapers in northern California; Gannett News Service-weekly column and photos sent to Gannett’s 90 dailies and 42 weeklies; Chicago Tribune; International Travel News; Travel Age West; Far East Traveler; Asia Pacific Traveler; regular columnist Marin Independent Journal; Senior column, International Travel News; National Geographic Traveler; Copley News Service, Arts & Antiques Magazine; The Paramus Post; Pacific Edge.
SPECIALTIES: Wildlife photography and general travel photography. Wrote novel on which an original two-hour Movie-of-the-Week was produced by Ted Turner. Produced 56 minute DVD on Route 66. Produced a 9-minute film about The Marine Mammal Center, Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito, CA.
BOOKS: Making the Most of Marin, A California Guide; Harpo The Baby Harp Seal; Whistle, Smoke and Steam; The Marine Mammal Center, How It All Began, Recollections of One of the Founders, Patricia Arrigoni
ONLINE PUBLICATIONS: I write for Creators Syndicate, 2400 outlets worldwide. Articles are 1000 to 1200 words.
Experience the Old West in Hawaii 2/23/13
Chauffeur-driven Rides Though Italy – 1/18/13
Start the Season with Arizona Cactus League Baseball – 1/23/13
Birding 101 in Southwest Arizona – 2/25/12
A WALK ALONG THE SAN FRANCISCO WATERFRONT
by Patricia Arrigoni
Locals agree that the renewal of the San Francisco waterfront really began with the Loma Prieta Earthquake which struck the Bay Area on October 17, 1989. The San Francisco Giants were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers at the old Candlestick Stadium when everything began to shake. While the stadium did not collapse, the Marina District, mainly built on sand, was badly damaged and burned. Portions of the Bay Bridge fell down and the widely hated Embarcadero Freeway which blocked the view down Market St. to the revered historic Ferry Building, was so badly damaged it had to be torn down. That was the beginning of what some people call the “Renaissance of the San Francisco Waterfront.”
The Ferry Building itself underwent a complete remodel which was completed in 2003. Skylights were opened up, and shops and restaurants installed along with a Farmer’s Market. A popular bookstore, Book Passage, began holding author readings which brought thousands of visitors to hear the likes of President Bill Clinton.
Farther south along the bay, a new baseball park was built, current home to the San Francisco Giants. Fans from all around the country can now watch on TV as home runs splash into McCovey Cove among row boats, yachts and ferries.
Fisherman’s Wharf, always a popular spot where tourists have come to eat fresh crab, has had many new shops and entertainments opened in the past few years. Visitors can tour the latest wax museum and eat at famous old restaurants still owned by Italian families who have been in this location for generations.
Next door to Fishermans Wharf is Pier 39, a multistory development of shops and restaurants which also feature a popular caracole for the children, and, to everyone’s delight, live sea lions. It was shortly after the 1989 earthquake that dozens of juvenile sea lions decided to take up residence on wooden platforms built to anchor yachts and sailing boats at Pier 39. When these marine mammals first appeared uninvited, everyone tried to shoo them away. The animals were, after all, trespassing on private property and making a mess. The sea lions would not be shooed away, and it finally dawned on the powers that be that these handsome animals were beginning to be a big tourist draw.
Years later, in 2009, the sea lions disappeared for a few months and everyone was very worried. A spokesman from the Marine Mammal Center at Fort Cronkhite in Marine County suggested the marine mammals were probably out chasing a food source and would soon be back. He was right and everyone sighed in relief when the sea lions returned a few months later.
An outstanding attraction at Pier 39 is the Aquarium Of The Bay, a non-profit organization which features some 20,000 creatures indigenous to the San Francisco Bay Area. Visitors walk through crystal clear tunnels to view sharks, sea bass, bat fish, sardines, sturgeon, schools of sardines, and star fish. Also on display are rock fish, jelly fish, crabs, surf perch, muscles sea anomies, Garbaldi, (the California state marine fish), and wolf eels.
The fish swim on both sides of the tunnels and over visitor’s heads. It is great fun to look up and see a 300 pound sea bass eyeball to eyeball, or a prehistoric looking sturgeon a foot away checking you out as you look at him.
Children are delighted with the touch pool upstairs which features Western toads, leopard sharks, bat rays and big skates. Nearby is a tide pool featuring Hermit Crabs, Ochre Stars, Bat Stars and Purple Urchin.
The Aquarium also offers a second tour that gives visitors a chance to go behind the scenes and view the food preparation area where 1000 pounds of “restaurant quality” fish are prepared each week, plus a quarantine or rest area for the fish on display.
Christina Slager, Director of Husbandry at The Aquarium By The Bay, told me proudly that five baby angel sharks were born in their facilities, the only place in the country that this has happened. They also hatch jelly fish which start as eggs, grow into pallops, become attached forms and finally grow into full size jelly fish which are put on display.
The Marine Mammal Center also has a shop at Pier 39 where visitors can listen to the song and barks of California Sea Lions, Steller Sea Lions, Orcas, Bottlenose Dolphins, Humpback Whales and Northern Elephant Seals. A fascinating display in the window features the skeleton of an adult male California Sea Lion. There are even skins to rub of a Harbor Seal, Steller Sea Lion and California Sea Lion.
Other places to see and explore along the waterfront include the S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien (a World War II Liberty Ship), The Cannery, Ghiradelli Square, Hyde St. Pier, Aquatic Park, the National Maritime Museum, and Fort Mason. If you feel really ambitious, you can walk clear to the old Presidio, home of the new Walt Disney Family Museum, the beautifully restored Crissy Fields and the Golden Gate Bridge which is free to walk across.
IF YOU GO:
Hyatt Regency across from the San Francisco Ferry Terminal. 5 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA. 94111. 1-415-788-1234.
Hyatt at Fishermans Wharf, 555 North Point Street, San Francisco, CA. 1-415-563-1234. http://fishermanswharf.hyatt.com
The Argonaut across from the Hyde Street Pier. A Kimpton Hotel. www.argonauthotel.com 1- 800.kimpton
Sheraton, Fishermans Wharf, 2500 Mason St., San Francisco, CA. 94133. 415-362-5500; 1-800-325-3535. www.sheratonatthewharf.com.
Sens – 4 Embarcadero Center –415- 362-0645
Located on the 3rd floor with a lovely view of the Ferry Bldg. Terrific sea food including the Paella.
Fog Harbor Fish House – Pier 39; 415-421-2442; www.fogharbor.com. Try the delicious bowl of clam chowder and Blue Cheese garlic bread.
SAN FRANCISCO CITY TOURS:
A free non-profit group of volunteers will lead you all over the city including the Ferry Building (Tues., Thursdays and Saturdays at noon), and Fishermans Wharf (Mondays and Fridays at 11:00 am). www.sfcityguides.org
AQUARIUM OF THE BAY:
Located at Pier 39 next to Fishermans Wharf. The Embarcadero at Beach Street. 415-623-5300 or 1-888-SEADIVE; www.aquariumofthebay.org.