Learn More About San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, located on the edge of San Francisco Bay, in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood, is a park that can be visited year round. Begin with a trip to the Visitor Center (415-447-5000), located on Jefferson Street at the corner of Hyde Street (map). Park Rangers will help you plan your visit.

Some Outdoor Activities

  • Visit the National Historic Landmark ships at Hyde Street
  • Walk to the end of Hyde Street Pier for a spectacular view of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Join a ranger or docent on a walking tour of Hyde Street Pier
  • Stop by the Small Boat Shop on Hyde Street Pier and talk to the boat builders
  • Check the activity board near the ticket booth on Hyde Street Pier for scheduled programs or call the visitor center, 415-447-5000
  • Join a ranger-led tour of the ships
  • Join in on a sail raise aboard the 1886 sailing ship Balclutha
  • Learn what a capstan is and how to use it
  • Get up early on a Sunday morning for a guided bird walk around the Aquatic Park National Landmark District
  • Take a ranger-led sail along the San Francisco aboard the 1891 scow schooner Alma
  • Have a picnic on the lawn overlooking the Lagoon
  • Walk out on the 1400-foot Municipal Pier – it’s a trail that leads right over San Francisco Bay
  • Take a self-guided walking tour • On some Saturdays, meet the park’s costumed Living History Players
  • Pick up a free Junior Ranger Program activity booklet, do the activities, and earn a badge
  • Dig in the sand at Aquatic park beach

Some Indoor Activities

  • If it’s the first Saturday of the month, experience one of the West Coast’s premier traditional music events -- a lively sea chantey program aboard one of the historic vessels
  • If it’s the first Sunday of the month, spend a cozy afternoon in the J. Porter Shaw Maritime Library
  • See the Visitor Center’s many exhibits
  • Check the activity board for programs taking place inside the ships, Library, or Visitor Center (like Lighthouses of San Francisco Bay, Surviving Cape Horners, and Crafts for Kids)
  • Below decks aboard Balclutha, experience the immersive environment exhibit Cargo Is King, and watch short films about the ship’s varied careers
  • Take a guided tour inside the recently-refurbished Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building

National Historic Landmarks/Park Sites

1886 square-rigged ship Balclutha

  • Balclutha is a three-masted, steel-hulled, square-rigged ship built to carry a variety of cargo all over the world
  • Launched in 1886 by the Charles Connell and Company shipyard near Glasgow, Scotland, the ship carried goods around Cape Horn (tip of South America) 17 times
  • It took a crew of about 26 men to handle the ship at sea with her complex rigging and 25 sails

1895 schooner C A Thayer

  • The CA Thayer is a wooden-hulled, three-masted schooner, designed for carrying lumber
  • She was built in 1895 in Northern California at Hans D. Bendixsen’s shipyard in Fairhaven, CA
  • The original hull was made of dense, old-growth Douglas fir carefully chosen for shipbuilding
  • She sailed with a small crew consisting of four seamen, two mates, a cook, and the captain

1890 steam paddlewheel ferryboat Eureka

  • Eureka is a wooden-hulled, side-wheel paddle steamboat
  • From the passenger deck up, she is nearly identical fore and aft. Her "double-end" design made disembarking quicker and easier
  • Eureka's large, "walking beam" steam engine remains intact. • Eureka operated on San Francisco Bay, from San Francisco to Sausalito

1890 (circa) San Francisco Bay Ark

  • The Ark, also known as the Lewis Ark, is a wooden houseboat, 44 feet long, 25 feet wide, with a rounded, barge-like bottom and a two-foot draft
  • The Ark was one of several dozen boats moored out as summer hideaways for San Francisco families in Belvedere Lagoon, near Tiburon
  • The interior is paneled with a dark wood. In the front room, or parlor, is a brick and iron fireplace. Sliding doors lead to two bedrooms with built-in beds. A narrow hallway leads to the rear of the ark

1891 scow schooner Alma

  • Alma is a wooden-hulled scow schooner built in 1891 to carry bulk cargo
  • The flat-bottomed hull was designed to navigate the shallow waters of the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta and to rest on the bottom at low tide
  • With few bridges and connecting roads, scow schooners delivered goods all over the Bay and Delta much as trucks do today
  • By 1880 there were 250 sailing scows on San Francisco Bay

1907 steam tugboat Hercules

  • Hercules is a steam powered tug built for ocean towing
  • The 151-foot ship, of riveted steel construction, still contains her original triple expansion steam engine • Built on the East Coast in 1907, she towed her sister ship from Camden, New Jersey around South America to San Francisco
  • Hercules also towed sailing ships, disabled vessels, barges, log rafts, a caisson (a steel structure used for closing the entrance to locks) for a dry dock at Pearl Harbor, and a caisson to help build a Panama Canal lock

1914 paddlewheel tugboat Eppleton Hall

  • The Eppleton Hall was built in 1914 in an English Shipyard
  • She is a steam-powered side-wheeler (a paddle wheel on each side of the ship)
  • Her two large side lever engines, also called grasshopper engines, operated the paddle wheels independently
  • She towed coal barges (colliers) on the River Wear

Small Craft Collection

  • The park's collection of more than 100 traditional and significant small craft is a fine introduction to boatbuilding and the maritime trades. • Although the collection rotates on- and off-display, on a typical visit you might see: a Whaleboat, a Felucca, a San Francisco Bay Junk replica, a Bear boat, and a Pelican tied up at the pier

J. Porter Shaw Maritime Library

  • The Library is the research portal into the Park's collections--reference librarians are available by appointment, phone, email or fax to assist you with your research in the Park's collections--with books, photographs, or even the objects cared for by the departments within the Cultural Resources Division

Aquatic Park National Historic Landmark District

  • This historic designed landscape, which covers approximately four acres, was a collaborative project between the Federal Works Progress Administration and the City of San Francisco Department of Public Works during the late 1930s
  • Major features include buildings designed in the streamline moderne style, Municipal Pier, the lagoon, and open grassy areas
  • The murals and sculpture inside the Bathhouse (executed by Hilaire Hiler, Sargent Johnson, Beniamino Bufano, Richard Aker and Charles Nunemaker), are outstanding examples of federally-funded, 1930s art