Tours offer glimpse of Transbay Terminal's past

July 30, 2010 8:01:14 PM PDT
Friday was the last day to see a San Francisco landmark completely intact. The Transbay Terminal was the start and finish point for generations of people going from point A to point B. Soon, it will be torn down.

It was almost as crowded on Friday as when it opened in 1939 with people curious to see the Transbay Terminal a final time. Back in its heyday, 26 million people a year came through the place to catch the old key system trains to the East Bay. When they stopped running in 1958, only buses used the place and it began a slow downward spiral.

"The station no longer meets current or future operating needs. In addition to that, it needs to accommodate rail, high speed rail," said Transbay Authority Executive Director Maria Ayerdi.

Time has passed by the designs of noted San Francisco architect Timothy Pflueger, but for many the last day was loaded with memories.

"I was a kid, during the war at 5 years old, I remember coming over here and just as you go out these doors over here, they had the first TV sets I ever saw," said San Francisco resident Neil Nevensky.

"A little nostalgic. I wanted to see it one last time before it was gone and lots of memories here. It's kind of an icon of San Francisco," said San Francisco resident Adina Rauchwerger.

They took a look at the old Cuddles Bar, a place where people would stop before catching a train or bus. They could also see the diner with its "U" shaped counters and even an old shoe shine stand.

The jail cell where they kept people who would get into trouble, along with other artifacts in the building, will be taken away and moved to a museum that will be built in Gateway Park at the eastern end of the Bay Bridge.

The site will greatly be transformed with a modern station with a grand hall topped by a park, restaurants, retail, homes, and high rise hotels.

The last bus pulls out of the old place next weekend. On August 14, they begin tearing it down.


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