Best Historical Locale

The Embarcadero

Ever since the Embarcadero Freeway came tumbling down a decade ago, the waterfront has been a pleasant place to stroll, sunbathe, and learn all about San Francisco's rich maritime heritage. Handsome historical markers were installed along the promenade in addition to the palm trees and the streetcars and the skating ramps. Drawings, photographs, and quotations illuminate such topics as local shipwrecks, waterfront saloons, the Ferry Building, the great strike of 1934, and the steamships that once plied the waters from here to Hawaii. The Embarcadero (which was known as East Street until 1909 and was the setting of William Saroyan's Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Time of Your Life) also boasts the Promenade Ribbon — a narrow strip of illuminated glass blocks that marks the meeting of land and water below. Amazing views, too, mostly due to today's sad dearth of boats in the foreground.

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