These are pictures from the Transbay Terminal, which opened in 1939, taken on the day that it closed in August of 2010, and of the Salesforce Transit Center this week when it opened. The old Transbay Terminal was my gateway to San Francisco when at age 15 the City became my favorite place in the world. It was already getting run down by then, but it will always hold a special place in my heart. Back in high school when most of my friends and I didn’t have a car, and up through college when, if we could afford a car it probably was so cheap it wouldn’t make the 30 or so miles to San Francisco, we took buses to the Transbay Terminal. From there we explored San Francisco and discovered places like Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Cliff House and Golden Gate Park, places I still visit regularly today. When BART opened the Transbay Tube I never took a bus there again, but often stopped in when I was in a nostalgic mood. When I heard it was closing in August of 2010, I went there for one last time and took as many pictures of the building as I could. This week I visited the new Salesforce Transit Center, and I must say that, in my opinion, it is and will continue to be, if security can keep the riff-raff out, a magnificent transit hub. I was in awe walking around it, and to hear the noise of buses arriving and departing took me back to a special long-ago time.
We’ll start at the northeast corner of Mission and Fremont Streets looking toward the two terminals on closing day in August of 2010 and this weekend, as all of these pictures will be.
We’ll move down Mission Street one block to the northwest corner of Mission and 1st Streets.
The main entrance to the Transit Terminal then and now: Although the Salesforce Building and Terminal were built where the old terminal was, the entrance to the new building is a little further back from Mission Street and closer to Fremont Street.
These are one of the old stairs and ramps that went from the second level to the third floor where buses arrived and departed and today’s escalator to the second level where buses travel to and from the Bay Bridge in the new transit center.
These were the old benches at street level where you waited for your bus to depart and if you were like me, fell asleep some times and missed it. The stairs in the back took you to the second floor, where you went up to a third level for the buses. The bottom picture is looking down to street level from the escalator that goes to the second level today.
Buses from the East Bay arrived on the eastern side of the terminal here, and left for the Bay Bridge on the western side of the building. Now, buses arrive and leave on the bus bridge to the Bay Bridge on only the west side shown in the bottom photo.
This is the western side of the old terminal looking toward the Pacific Telephone Building on New Montgomery Street, and from the park on the roof of the Salesforce Transit Terminal.
There wasn’t as many people leaving by bus in 2010 or this weekend, but there will be eventually.
Getting ready to depart in 2010 and today:
Both of these images are looking toward the north side of the two terminals. In the old Transbay Terminal picture on top, this was where passengers used to catch the Key Systems Trains that crossed the lower deck of the Bay Bridge.
Two buses off, back across the Bay Bridge:
What was lost and what was gained: I guess the thing to say is that they are and were both beautiful in their way.
Happy passengers, I hope, arriving at the terminal then and now.
Now let’s look at some of the civic attractions of the two transit terminals. The rooftop park in the new transit terminal is very beautiful, complete with interesting things to see, like the desert garden on the northwestern side of the park.
And, there’s the incredible Salesforce Tower.
Of course, there isn’t anything today like the vintage shoe shine stand in the old building. I image, however, that they probably have a more efficient heating system today.
Also, I didn’t see any ticket booths in the Salesforce Terminal like this one, long closed by 2010.
Let’s take a last look at what was, and what is.
When I came back a few days later in August of 2010, the old Transbay Terminal was closed up forever.
I walked up the ramp in 2010 where the old streetcars used to arrive, and looked back to Mission and 1st Streets. I thought about all of the people, including friends and I, who came and went here. Buses are starting to come back here now, and a lot more will.
2 thoughts on “A Tour of two Transbay Terminals”
Those old wooden benches look fabulous- wonder what happened to them when the old center was demolished? I worked at 215 Fremont and used to dread the walk past the terminal early in the morning. Not a great area in the 90’s, but how things have changed!
Hi, Lynn! Yeah, it did get really creepy in later years, huh? And nobody seemed to want to do anything about it! Let’s hope they take better care of the new one. There’s probably a lot of interesting things like those benches that disappeared with the building. That old shoe shine bench, polished up, would make a great antique. Thank you for your comment.