The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is located in San Francisco, California, USA. The park includes a fleet of historic vessels, a visitor center, a maritime museum, and a library/research facility. The park is sometimes referred to as the San Francisco Maritime Museum, its former 1951 name that changed in 1978 when the collections were acquired by the National Park Service. Today's San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park was authorized in 1988; the maritime museum is among the park's many cultural resources. The park also incorporates the Aquatic Park Historic District, bounded by Van Ness Avenue, Polk Street, and Hyde Street.
The Visitor Center is housed in the park's 1909 waterfront warehouse, located at the corner of Hyde and Jefferson Streets. The City of San Francisco declared the four-story brick structure an historic landmark in 1974, and the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Inside, exhibits (including a first order Fresnel lighthouse lens and a shipwrecked boat) tell the story of San Francisco’s colorful and diverse maritime heritage. The visitor center also contains a theater and a ranger-staffed information desk.
The maritime museum was until recently housed in a Streamline Moderne (late Art Deco) building that is the centerpiece of the Aquatic Park Historic District, a National Historic Landmark at the foot of Polk Street and a minute's walk from the visitor center and Hyde Street Pier. The building was originally built (starting in 1936) by the WPA as a public bathhouse, and its interior is decorated with fantastic and colorful murals, created primarily by artist and color theoretician Hilaire Hiler. The architects were William Mooser Jr. and William Mooser III.
The Steamship Room illustrates the technological evolution of maritime power from wind to steam, while the second-floor displays include three photomurals of the early San Francisco waterfront, lithographic stones, scrimshaw and whaling guns. The third-floor gallery is used for visiting exhibitions and in 2005 exhibited "Sparks", an exhibition of shipboard radio, radiotelephone, and radioteletype technology.
The Maritime Museum has re-opened after a series of renovations.
The Maritime Research Center focuses on sail and steam on the West Coast of the United States and the Pacific Basin from 1520 to the present, including library collections and the archived records of many ship builders and ship owners. It includes 1,500 feet (460 m) of documents, including 120,000 vessel and shipyard architectural drawings, and about 5,000 charts and maps.