Market St is a major transit artery for the city of San Francisco and has carried in turn, horse drawn street cars, cable cars, electric streetcars, electric trolley buses and diesel buses.
Today, Muni's buses, trolleybuses, and heritage streetcars (on the F Market line) share the street, while below, the street, the two level Market St subway carries Muni Metro and BART.
While cable cars no longer operate on Market St, the surviving cable car lines terminate to the side of the street at its intersections with California St and Powell St.
Market St cuts across the city for 3 miles (5 km) from the waterfront to the hills of Twin Peaks. It was laid out originally by Jasper O'Farrell, a 26 year old trained Civil Engineer, who emigrated to Yerba Bena, as the town was then known.
The town was renamed San Francisco in 1846, after it was captured by Americans during the Mexican-American War. Market St would be hailed as a popular parade route and in 1979, it became the host to a parade honoring General U.S. Grant. In 1883, it would also pay homage to gatherings of the Knights Templar and in 1886 would honor a reunion of the Grand Army of the Republic.
By 1924, Market St's hustle and bustle of those electric cars were competing with the vibrant look of a city also filling up with cars. The street car fare was 5 cents and now allowed transfers good all over the system.
Market St underwent major changes in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the Muni Metro service was moved underground in conjunction with the construction of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.
The building names on Market St tell a fascinating story of the city's past alignment with the Southern Pacific railway; Pacific Gas and Electric, that fueled the West; Matson, the shipping company that connected San Franciscans to Hawaii and other Pacific destinations.
Market St shares the history of the Piche Railway, with the devastating earthquake, through the 1940s office boom, parades, cruise ship traffic and protests.
When all is said and done, the street provides a 100 year tour of architecture, shopping and some of the best dining anywhere.
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