"Market Street" Market Street Tip by SteveOSF

Market Street, San Francisco: 3 reviews and 11 photos

  Market Street at night near Powel Street
by SteveOSF
  • Market Street at night near Powel Street - San Francisco
      Market Street at night near Powel Street
    by SteveOSF
  • Market St. near 7th St. looking towards the Bay - San Francisco
      Market St. near 7th St. looking towards the Bay
    by SteveOSF

Market Street is the main commercial street of San Francisco. It was laid out in the early 1800s at a diagonal to the street grid by engineer Jasper O’Farrell. Being at an angle to its adjacent streets assured its prominence. However, its alignment became a source of grief in the automotive era. This major street stretches from the Bay to Twin Peaks cutting through downtown and several diverse portions of the City.

Market Street’s prominence is reinforced by being the home of four of San Francisco’s eight BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) Stations. Located beneath the Market Street are also seven MUNI Metro Light Rail Stations, four of which coincide with the BART Stations. Along Market Street’s surface rolls the historic streetcars of the F-Line. Muni trolley buses also cruise Market Street with a high frequency.

Market Street begins at the Bay directly across the Embarcadero from the historic Ferry Building. The tower of the Ferry Building can be seen at the end of Market Street when one looks towards the bay. From the Embarcadero, home of BART’s Embarcadero Station, Market Street cuts through downtown running past the Financial District at Montgomery Station. It then runs to the major downtown shopping mecca at Powel Street Station near Union Square. Then it sneaks past a seedy area at 6th Street before reaching Civic Center Station at United Stations Plaza, just a couple of blocks from City Hall.

After Civic Center, BART breaks away to Mission Street, but Market Street continues to the MUNI Metro Station at Van Ness Avenue, which due to the forty five degree angle of Market Street, is also short distance from City Hall. The next MUNI Station is at Church Street. The final Muni Station on Market Street is the Castro Station located at the intersection of Market and Castro Streets at the heart of the Castro District. After Castro Street, Market Street climbs up a grade toward Twin Peaks where it smoothly transitions into Portola Boulevard as it moves into residential districts.

Most visitors to San Francisco will likely explore Market Street from Powel Street to the Embarcadero. An abundance of shopping is available in this area. A ride along Market Street on the historic F-Line streetcars is not only fun, but is also a viable transportation option to help transverse Market Street and even to reach Fisherman’s Wharf.

For motorists Market Street is a nightmare. It cuts across the downtown street grid at a 45 degree angle and many streets will not even cross this main street. From Market Street left turns are rarely allowed so plan your route carefully if you need to drive on it. There is virtually no parking in the downtown segment of the street. Transit diamond lanes switch from left to right without warning and large concrete streetcar boarding platforms constrict the traffic lanes. Market Street is a major bike route, and the interfaces between bikes and cars are constrained and are not comfortable.

However, Market Street is pedestrian friendly with wide brick sidewalks. An abundance of transit options cover this crowded street. If Market Street is your destination, it is best not to use your car to get there.

For many Market Street is considered to be the heart of San Francisco. It stretches across several neighborhoods. Business and commerce surround this street. It is the starting point for downtown shopping. It is home to the Orpheum, Golden Gate, and Warfield Theaters. Most visitors to the City will come to Market Street at some point during their stay.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jun 30, 2009
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