Pier 39 was first developed in 1977, thanks to the entrepreneur Warren Simmons, who had a vision to create a lively space in his home city of San Francisco where locals and visitors could mingle and enjoy the waterfront. In 1973 Simmons noticed a run-down, abandoned old pier, number 39, and immediately knew this would be it.
He carried his development plan everywhere and presented it to anyone who would listen. And through sheer drive and persuasion, the Port of San Francisco agreed to grant him a lease agreement in 1975.
It was no ordinary lease contract, nonetheless. It required permits and governmental approvals from 11 different agencies before beginning construction. Additionally, building codes required constructing a concrete and steel envelope at the base of the pier, as old Pier 39 had a floating breakwater made of rubber tires. Financing the project was an additional major challenge, and rising construction costs threatened to derail it.
The obstacles were so many, in fact, that San Francisco Supervisor at the time, Dianne Feinstein, was so sure Simmons could not meet the scheduled opening date, she made a bold bet: She promised to appear in a bikini for the ribbon cutting ceremonies.
Miraculously, Warren did manage to meet the deadline; and on opening day, October 4th 1978, Dianne Feinstein showed up in a bathing-suit to the loud cheers of the awestruck crowds.
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