Very soon, San Francisco and the SF Bay Area will be able to visit a new version of something old, and that, for a time, came to define life for this vlogger in the San Francisco Bay Area: Salesforce Transit Center.
Salesforce Transit Center and Salesforce Tower alongside it are the culmination of a dream that was originally to be a remodeled Transbay Transit Center, with a California High-Speed Rail system that crossed over the San Francisco Bay via a new Bay Bridge.
That part, Oakland High Speed Rail, which I worked to try and have implemented as part of my work as Economic Advisor to Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris from 1995 to 1999, didn’t happen, as we were out-politicked, but what did happen were approvals that led to what is now called the Salesforce Transit Center and Salesforce Tower. I took yet another walk around to make a video-blog update of how far contruction had progressed. But, you may ask, why was all of this necessary?
The original Transbay Transit Center was damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. But rather than just repair and upgrade the existing structure, then San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown wanted something more: a signature transportation building for the 21st Century, and one capable of being the San Francisco Terminus for California High Speed Rail. Brown appointed his Deputy Mayor Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan to make the Transbay Transit Center and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority a reality.
It was also to be the center of a new Downtown San Francisco of high-rise developments that took clear advantage of the subsidy offering created by California Redevelopment Law. Thus, the allowance of the giant scale of the structures around it, all part of a grand-fathered in tax increment financing district lasting after California Governor Jerry Brown worked to kill the California Redevelopment Law that allowed the zone to be created. The plan was signature Willie Brown: big, state-of-the-art, and hell-of-expensive.
I have followed this project since the 2007 San Francisco Design Competition, where I made this video blog about the architect contestants…
To construction site visits, where I made this video-blog showing what it’s like to be in the foundation of the Salesforce Transit Center before it’s finished….
To this video-blog of the plan introduction (and yes, that’s the great San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who we miss as much as we celebrate new Mayor London Breed)…
To this video-blog of the groundbreaking ceremony…
To a number of walking vlogs just to keep up to date, and the one at the top of this post is the latest of them.
This Salesforce Transit Center is every bit as large as the building it replaces, yet, with Salesforce Tower, different. The first difference, for me, is in the complete lack of a driveway off First Street; the old transit center’s entrance was where Salesforce Tower stands today.
Back then, and up to 1989, Muni, Sam Trans, and Greyhound Buses drove up and down that driveway; where the lobby and building that is Salesforce Tower exist today, was a giant plaza where riders walked in and out of the transit center, or stood to wait for Muni Buses. The only operational simularity with the past is inside, where AC Transit Buses serving Oakland and the East Bay will drive in, and very soon. I can’t wait to get inside, and when I do it will be weird.
My dear Mom, whom I spend much of my time with of late as her only child, worked for United Airlines for 30 years, much of that in San Francisco, in the Northpoint Building on Fisherman’s Wharf. When I would visit her at the United Airlines Reservation Center, there, while at Oakland’s Bret Harte Junior High School and then Skyline High School, I would take an AC Transit Bus and get off at the old transit center. Then take the 15 3rd Kearny, the crosstown bus, and best way to get to the Northpoint Building on Bay and Powell. That was always fun.
As a college kid, visiting from undergraduate school at Texas Arlington, and then as a graduate student at the Berkeley Planning School, the old transit center played host to the late-night, all-night bus service I’d use to come back to Oakland after enjoying San Francisco dance clubs like the (now-closed) DV8, situated right next to the Transbay Transit Center. I only wish digital media had been around then, so I could give an even more complete view of it all from my eyes, but walking about, today, brings back all of those great memories.
Someone recently said to me that I don’t look old. And since I’m about to celebrate my 56th birthday, you would think this new Salesforce Transit Center makes me feel old. Indeed, 29 years have passed since its operation, and now the majority of people who will use it didn’t even experience the first transit center, but I did. And so did my friends, like my buddy for 40 years, Lars Frykman, who passed away in his sleep April 18th of this year, in Sonoma. He’d love this new place, and our friend Bill Boyd, too! (In fact, the entire Skyline High School Class of 1980!)
But no, I don’t feel old – I feel young, all over again.
Oh, and here’s my Zennie62 on YouTube video-blog playlist:
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media