Current mood: extremely thankful for how the Embarcadero looks today versus how it did in the past.

San Francisco Planning Department

While no doubt useful, the elevated double-decker Embarcadero Freeway (also known as California State Route 480) was hardly aesthetically pleasing compared to the Embarcadero of today. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake severely damaged the freeway, the demolition process began in 1991 and subsequently opened up the Embarcadero for development.

Here’s what the Embarcadero looked like in 1978 from up above:

And again in 1982:
Foreground:  Embarcadero Skyway.  Center:  Ferry Building.  Left

This photo shows the freeway from the Hyatt Regency in 1988, as well as the Vaillancourt Fountains:

 

Additionally, there are some pretty cool old-school videos taken while driving on the freeway, like this one from the 80s:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZkRml9jU4M

As well as this awesome timelapse from the movie Koyaanisqatsi:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0Okc4veGpg

If you want to learn more about this freeway of the past, we recommend checking out this website from the Preservation Institute.

Do you remember the Embarcadero Freeway? Feel free to share your memories in the comments.


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