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Quintessentially San Francisco: A Walk Down Market Street
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Quintessentially San Francisco: A Walk Down Market Street

Picture of Kristine Xu
Updated: 9 February 2017
At the core of every city lies a famous street bursting with history and culture. From the Champs-Élysées in Paris to Broadway in New York City to Market Street in San Francisco, these are some of the most easily recognizable streets in the world. Everything from restaurants and cafés to theaters and stores line this important artery in San Francisco, renowned for its accessibility and impact on the city’s rich past.

Hundreds of thousands of people visit Market Street every year, whether by public transit, car or on foot. While Muni buses, trolleybuses and heritage streetcars operate above ground, Muni Metro and Bay Area Rapid Transit utilize the underground subway system to transport patrons around San Francisco and the outer Bay Area.

Yet another option of public transportation is the cable car, an essential staple to San Francisco culture. Despite not operating on Market Street for many years, there are still two cable car turntables at the Market Street intersections of California Street and Powell Street, carrying riders toward the outskirts of San Francisco.

Market Street cuts diagonally through San Francisco, beginning at the foothills of Twin Peaks and continuing for three miles, before ending at the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. The Central Freeway is located adjacent to Market Street, while connecting streets like Valencia and Montgomery lead to internationally acclaimed neighborhoods such as the Mission District and the Financial District.

Market Street Aeriel View | © Sonny Abesamis/Flickr
Market Street Aeriel View | © Sonny Abesamis/Flickr

Most people will begin to recognize the iconic views of Market Street near the Tenderloin and South of Market districts, where the worlds of commerce and tourism collide. A handful of famous buildings and landmarks can be found while perusing the sidewalks of Market Street, such as popular entertainment venues and historical architecture.

The Orpheum Theater and The Warfield have hosted productions and concerts on Market Street since the early 1920’s, where an eclectic selection of productions and musicians such as Mama Mia!, Wicked, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Louis Armstrong, Green Day and Bob Dylan have taken the stage.

Another part of Market Street’s charm is in the gorgeous architecture of buildings that have lingered since the previous century, such as the Flood Building, the Flatiron Building, the Phelan Building and the Hobart Building. Though these monuments are relatively unknown by name, they are recognizable for their grandiose proportion and unique architecture which are undeniably part of the San Francisco aesthetic.

Market Street Ferry Building | © Marcin Wichary/Flickr
Market Street Ferry Building | © Marcin Wichary/Flickr

Beyond the usual fare of restaurants and clothing stores that draw visitors to Market Street, the Ferry Building is another essential landmark on Market Street. This high-traffic destination houses specialty food stands and farmers markets, in addition to serving as a terminal for ferry service between Oakland, Larkspur and Angel Island.

Market Street tops the list as one of the most visited tourist destinations in San Francisco that embodies the spirit of the city, with ample access to public transportation, plenty of delicious eateries and more than enough to see in one day. Whether you’re a first time visitor or an experienced local, Market Street has a little bit of everything for everyone.

Market St, San Francisco, CA, USA

By Kristine Xu

Aspiring journalist obsessed with all things related to food, writing and food writing. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @kristiners.