Growing by the Bay

Category: bay

Ferry Point, Richmond.

Ferry Point, Richmond

Ferry landing at Ferry Point, Richmond.

Ferry landing at Ferry Point, Richmond.

In recent decades Richmond has been aggressively developing its waterfront. Brickyard Cove, near Ferry Point, was once the location of a brick-making plant that used materials quarried from the nearby hillside. It is now an enclave of luxury homes and condominiums, along with a lively marina housing the Richmond Yacht Club, all set cheek to jowl with the industrial warehouses and tanks lining the city’s nearby deepwater harbor.

Ferry Landing framing San Francisco skyline.

Ferry Landing framing a glimpse of the San Francisco skyline.

Yet vestiges of the old waterfront remain, for now. One is Ferry Point, where the skeleton of an old ferry terminal remains, alongside a fishing pier maintained by the East Bay Regional Park District as part of the Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline. The pier was opened to the public in 2002.

Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and Red Rock Island.

Red Rock Island

Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and Red Rock Island.

Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The little island to the left of the bridge is Red Rock Island, the only privately owned island in the bay. It marks the meeting of San Francisco, Marin and Contra Costa counties. It’s for sale and can be yours for just $5 million (marked down from $12 million). It has no water, but plenty of manganese ore, if that’s your thing.

San Francisco skyline from Port View Park, Oakland

san francisco from port view park

While we’re checking out the SF skyline, here’s a closer view, from Port View Park in Oakland.


Exporatorium Roof Cam

The Exploratorium has a pretty cool roof cam. It is set to shift its view every fifteen minutes, or you can select from several presets.

If several people are visiting the site at the same time they queue up to take turns controlling the camera. When you are in control of the camera you have the ability to scroll right/left and up/down. You can also zoom out or in, between 1x wide angle and 25x telephoto).

The presets include:

Golden Gate Bridge

Wind Surfing Area


Golden Gate Bridge Approach

Palace of Fine Arts Lagoon

Weeping Women at Palace of Fine Arts

The Exploratorium’s Weather Station

Another Bridge View (this is the one shown above)

And the Wave Organ (an Exploratorium project with artist-in-residence Peter Richards)


San Francisco skyline from Bay Bridge

san francisco skyline from bay bridge

Here’s a view of the San Francisco skyline that I took from a car crossing the bridge a while back. I’m posting it because, unlike the Golden Gate Bridge, there is no pedestrian walkway on the Bay Bridge, and since stopping is prohibited one rarely sees this angle on the city in photographs.

A San Francisco webcam

san francisco webcam

Don Strickler has a webcam with a nice view of the bay. It’s located about 900 feet above sea level in Sausalito. The images are captured by a 3-megapixel NetCam XL.

Strickler, now based in Sonoma, also has a wine-related blog.

Send in the tugs!

How can we prevent another catastrophic spill in the San Francisco Bay? Oil is bad enough but there are also vessels carrying chemical cargo that could potentially require the evacuation of most of the Bay Area if released in a spill.

One suggestion has been to require double hulls on cargo ships. This is a fine idea, but I don’t know if the Bay Area has the clout to bring about the retooling of the entire worldwide fleet of vessels.

Rep. George Miller (a rather sensible fellow for a politician) has said that requiring cargo ships to have escort boats, stockpiling cleanup equipment more broadly across the Bay Area or spending hundreds of millions of dollars to remove hazardous underwater rocks should also be considered.

Put me down at least in favor of the escort boat proposal. This is a really good idea, which would go far to eliminate the danger of spills in the bay. Now, I heard a representative of the shipping industry complain that this would be prohibitively expensive. Right, and the auto industry said we could never afford seat belts or shatterproof windshields either.

Think about it. These enormous vessels are carrying cargo like, for example, huge fleets of Priuses destined for dealerships all around the bay. You think there’s any money in that? They can afford a tug to guide them through the bay, for goodness sake. And this would help to provide employment for our local watermen.

The tug escort plan is one that really must be enacted. Right now. I only hope the lobbyists don’t get to Arnold before it can get done.

NOAA coast survey maps

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a series of excellent bay maps on the web. Although the NOAA cautions that the maps are not to be used for nautical navigation, they do show depth contours in considerable detail. This section shows the Bay Bridge where a South Korean vessel collided with the bridge, releasing an oil spill whose effects will likely be suffered for years.

noaa map of san francisco bay

The maps can be zoomed and dragged. In the following view I’ve zoomed in a little (but not nearly all the way) to show some of the detail that the maps contain.

noaa map of san francisco bay

As far as I can tell, the site does not as yet have a user-friendly overview page. You kind of have to go to a page — like this one for chart 18650 — and then back up a directory and hunt around — or you could just try entering contiguous numbers in the url. It’s worth the effort if you are planning on being out on the bay or if you have an interest in its shorelines.

Biking the San Francisco Bay

Biking the San Francisco coast is a great idea (in the dry season), and Suite101 published an article about the subject a few years ago. It’s not a bad little piece, although the title, “Cycling the Coast in San Francisco,” is not very accurate. The author, Jill Florio, doesn’t bike the coast at all, but instead travels a small distance around the San Francisco Bay, from the city to Tiburon. Someone I work with (shown below) frequently commutes by bike to and from Tiburon (arriving in the office by 7:30 am), so this is clearly not a very long trip.

Still, it’s good to be reminded that if you’re traveling to the city you don’t need to bring your own bike, as you can rent one here. In 2001, when the article was published, an Elite Hybrid with front shocks for city touring could be rented for $38/day from Blazing Saddles.

cyclistFlorio also reminds us that you can bike from San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge and then return via ferry if you wish. (Ferries stop in Marin at Sausalito, Larkspur, and Tiburon. In the East Bay they go to Vallejo, Oakland, and Alameda). From Tiburon you can also take your bike on a ferry to Angel Island, where cars aren’t allowed (I want to do this!). The ferries contain racks for bikes.

Florio says that “San Fran traffic reminded me of driving in Mexico.” Which I can understand, but if you’ve traveled in Mexico you need to to be aware that the roads there are better. (Incidentally, to my ear the phrase “San Fran” grates worse than “Frisco,” which at least sounds either historic or trashy depending on your point of view.)

She also remarks, “The Golden Gate Bridge is a misnomer, to my thinking [can a bridge be a misnomer?]. It’s not golden at all.” You think? Maybe that’s because the name refers not to the bridge but to the entrance to the Bay, which was called the Golden Gate long before the bridge existed. Why is this misconception so common? You would think enough pictures of the bridge had been published by now that people would stop expecting it to be golden.

It was the photographer Dorothea Lange who convinced the powers that be to leave the bridge its reddish color (the color of the underpainting on the Bay Bridge). But that’s a story for another time.

Are there great white sharks in San Francisco Bay?

Good question! And here is the answer:

Find more videos like this on


Golden Gate Bridge in the fog

Cold ocean fog gets sucked through the Golden Gate, the narrow opening to the bay. The bridge that connects San Francisco at the south with Marin County at the north, though the second longest suspension bridge in the country, is only about 1.7 miles long, including the portions that extend over land. The narrowness of the Golden Gate prevented the immense bay (not nearly so large today as it used to be) from being discovered by early European explorers. When the fog would lift, Angel Island would create the illusion of a solid landmass.

The concentrated fog often takes weird winding routes through the city, contributing to its pronounced microclimates. One neighborhood can be warm and sunny while a neighboring one is suffused with a penetrating chill. This video was shot from a helicopter over the bridge.

Time Lapse Photos of San Francisco Bay

I’ve been on the road a bit and not posting much. I’ll be back up to speed soon. Here’s the San Francisco Bay from 6:00 am to 9:30 pm.

QM2 Arrives in San Francisco

qm2While most of the U.S. was watching the Superbowl, a sizable contingent of San Franciscans congregated at the Golden Gate to welcome the Queen Mary II to the city, a stop on her 81-day world cruise. San Francisco sits aside a giant bay, and it has seen a lot of vessels come and go — several Gold Rush vessels, abandoned by their avaricious crews, make up a portion of the landfill under the Financial District — but the QM2 is the biggest ever to visit the city. In fact, it barely squeezed under the Golden Gate Bridge (with 12 feet to spare). The vessel is four times the height of Telegraph Hill and some 280 feet longer than the Transamerica Pyramid is tall.

Piece and Bits was among the throng of spectators, and she has provided Frisco Vista with some photos. The photo above shows the armada of sailboats that accompanied the ocean liner in its journey into the bay. My favorite picture, however, is the one below. It captures the festive spirit of the San Franciscans who made the visit a cheerful event (and an excuse to enjoy a nice February day by the bay). Thanks, Sista Annie.


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