Market St. slices through San Francisco’s grid at a brash, oblique angle, cutting a prominent seam through the city’s central neighborhoods. It is a direct conduit into the city from San Francisco’s historic entrepot, the Ferry Building, leading all the way to Twin Peaks, where it heads skyward and disappears, having vaguely shown the way to the Pacific Ocean without actually leading there. It serves as the city’s parade ground, but Market doesn’t require a parade to be interesting. To walk this graceful corridor on a weekday morning is to be urged along by the living thrum of an American city. Muni buses, taxis, restored streetcars, autos, and bicycles generate a deep-throated hush as their wheels roll up and down Market’s lanes. The street’s swift-footed office workers swerve to avoid statues, fountains, and historical markers, as well as the casual sightseer who stops to inspect these monuments of the street’s stately past. Billions in U.S. dollars have been earned, lost, and swindled in the high-rise and flatiron structures along blocks that hem the Financial District, and billions more have been spent in the emporiums near Union Square. West of the Powell St. cable car turnaround, Market St. once thrived as San Francisco’s Broadway, with two or three grand theaters to a block. Some survive today, but this stretch of the city’s main thoroughfare, up to Van Ness, has seen much better days. The contrast from one end of this walk to the other is striking and, in some ways, baffling. All in all, a walk along Market St. makes a fine introduction to San Francisco. This walk is as straightforward as they come.
San Francisco, CA - Walking - Trail Length: 2