Half a Century on Market: Ron Miguel

Plans for a new Market Street are in the works with the possibility for construction beginning in 8 months and restrictions on private cars as early as December.

While some may think this is the first time Market Street is getting a makeover — it’s not. Market Street was transformed decades ago, and folks like Ron Miguel were part of that. We sat down with Ron, a former head of the Planning Commission and a long-time resident of San Francisco, to talk about the changes he’s seen and the opportunities we have to truly revolutionize Market Street now.

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What is your history with Market Street?

Wow, that brings back some long-ago memories and the answer is quite long and a bit complicated! I don’t use Market Street as often as I did in my earlier years. I think it’s best to give you a retrospect of those areas of Market Street which I particularly remember. At 88, they are nearly all in the distant past. 

When I think back to the Embarcadero, I remember both my wife and me taking the B streetcar, which ran down the center of Geary St. in the Richmond District to the Ferry Building. In 1939, I remember taking the ferry to the World’s Fair at Treasure Island. 

There used to be quite a lot of movie theaters on Market. I saw lots of films at the Fox Theater. It had 4,651 seats, was built in 1929, and demolished in 1963. I was lucky to enjoy the final organ concert in January 1963.

Back in the day, I would visit the Furniture Mart showrooms which is now the Twitter building. At the time, it was the largest venue for furniture and wholesale/manufacture showrooms west of Chicago.

If you could change one thing about Market Street right now, what would it be?

I would redesign and revitalize the north-side plazas to serve their surrounding infrastructure and neighborhood interests. Their design has always seemed to have been more for ‘show’ – a grand gesture — rather than for actual use by the public.

What is your favorite thing about/part of Market Street today?

I love that Market Street has many different and diverging personalities as it moves west from the Ferry Building. To me, the important concept to keep in the forefront is that it continues to serve as San Francisco’s “Main Stem”; continuing to constantly recreate itself.

If you want to help continue evolving Market street into a world-class people’s street, join us at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Market Street committee meeting on August 29.

Become a member and you'll improve your commute and get discounts at shops across the city.