Yerba Buena Shoreline Walk - Downtown San Francisco

Mechanics Monument
Market & Battery & Bush

You want to start your walk at the mechanics monument. Look for the plaque by the Battery Street curb close to Market street by the bike racks. This marker (and the one like it across market on First Street) denote the original shoreline and the start to our walk today. Turn around and note where the Ferry Building and the current shoreline is today. Everything you see out toward the Ferry Building is fill. When they were digging the BART and MUNI subway tunnels here, they encountered a lot of issues as they passed this point on Market Street. 

Turn away from Market Street, cross Battery and start walking up Bush Street to Sansome.

Notice the slight grade changes here as we walk toward Sansome, we are crossing the waters edge onto land here. 

At Sansome and Bush, take a right and walk 2 blocks to California Street.

Along Sansome at the corner of Pine, you will see the old Pacific Stock Exchange which is now a gym. 

As you walk along Sansome, the shoreline approaches again and we will come to the edge of it as we come to California Street. It's interesting to imagine the Cable Cars are actually dipping below the water line at this point as they travel toward the Embarcadero. 

Take a left on California and walk toward Montgomery on the North side of the street.

As you cross Leidesdorff, look toward the curb in front of the Wells Fargo entrance here for an original hitching post (looks like a brown trash can). I believe this predates the 1906 earthquake and fire, but if not, it's pretty old and really was used to hitch horses to. 

From California, take a right on Montgomery and walk up half a block to the Wells Fargo Museum. 

The Museum (open banking hours on weekdays) has free entrance and is a great spot to take the family for an hour or two. Try your hand at riding in and driving a stagecoach, try out old banking machines, and even a telegraph. Lots of biography's on historic figures also. Well worth a visit if you can manage it. 

As you exit the museum onto Montgomery, take a right, cross Sacramento, turn right and walk down Sacramento to Leidesdorff alley. Turn left into the alley and walk the 2 blocks to the end. 

This is where you will get your first real glimpse of the Transamerica Pyramid. This section of Leidsedorff is below the water line. There are also some horse head hitching posts here, but I believe that these are simply decorative. 

From Leidsedorff, take a left on clay and walk the two blocks up to Chinatown and Portsmouth Square.

Portsmouth Square was the original commercial district in San Francisco, and is now the center of Chinatown. You can see mahjong players here in the park. Also if you are hungry, the Sam Wo's restaurant just reopened across from the park on Clay by Kearny. This San Francisco institution just reopened at this new location, still with plenty of flavor and 100 years of memories from the old location. 

Portsmouth Square 1850's

Portsmouth Square 1850's

Walk back down Clay Street past the Transamerica Pyramid to the Redwood Park and take a left.

This is a really tranquil spot to come unplug and mellow out. During some weekday lunch hours, small jazz concerts will be hosted here. Continue through the park to Washington Street.

On Washington Street, take a left and walk to Montgomery and the foot of Columbus. 

The triangular building in front of you is now a church of Scientology, but was the original Bank of Italy building (later to become the Bank of America). This building actually sits on a little cove we will walk around. 

Walk up Columbus, take a right on Jackson Street, cross Montgomery and take a left on the shortest street in San Francisco, Balance Street. Take a right on Gold Street, continue onto Sansome and take a left walking up Sansome to Pacific. 

Jackson Square is one of the few areas to have survived the earthquake and fire, so keep your eyes on the architecture here. many of the buildings have been updates, but still retain the original facades.

Burned area of the 1906 Earthquake

Burned area of the 1906 Earthquake

Take a right on Pacific, walk to Battery and take a left to walk up Battery Street.

On the corner of Battery and Pacific you will find the Old Ship Saloon.

Abandon Ships in the Yerba Buena Harbor

A ship called the Arkansas was towed here after running aground at Alcatraz being left unmanned for the Gold Rush as this was originally a beach. The above ground part of the ship became a bar and hotel, to be dismantled in the 1860's to be replaced by a building. It is thought that some of the ship still remains underneath. 

Take a left on Battery Street and continue North for 3 blocks till Green Street. 

At Green and Battery you are back underwater. 

Take a left on Green and walk a block back to Sansome. 

On Green Street across Sansome is a historical marker and a warehouse type of building. This is where Philo T. Farnsworth created an electronic image dissector which became the Television. Read more about him here:  

Take a left on Sansome and walk a block and a half to Levi's Plaza and take a right down the steps, the end of our route today. 

I found it interesting to descend the steps here, crossing the shoreline one last time. This is a good spot to stop and rest, and during the week, there is a restroom in the lobby of the Levi's building that's accessible. There are a couple of nice parks here with some lovely fountains, and a Starbucks to recharge a bit. 

From here you might hop of the F-Line and return back to where you started, spend some time at the Exploratorium, climb the steps to Coit Tower, or just relax a bit and reflect on our walk today. 

The ship General Harrison excavated in 1968

The ship General Harrison excavated in 1968