San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf gets its name and neighborhood characteristics from the city's early days of the mid to later 1800s when Italian immigrant fishermen came to the city by the bay to take advantage of the influx of population due to the gold rush. One in particular, Achille Paladini found it so lucrative he made a fortune wholesaling the local crustaceans and went on to become California's second most wealthy Italian, second to none other than the founder of the Bank of Italy, later to become the Bank of America. He was also a pioneer in developing the fish industry on the west coast and went on to be known as the "Fish King." Most of the Italian immigrant fishermen settled in the North Beach area close to the wharf and fished for the local delicacies and the now famed Dungeness crab. From then until the present day it remained the home base of San Francisco's fishing fleet. Despite its redevelopment into a tourist attraction during the 1970s and 1980s, the area is still home to many active fishermen and their fleets.
In 2010, a $15,000,000 development plan was proposed by city officials hoping to revitalize its appearance for tourists, and to reverse the area's downward trend in popularity among San Francisco residents, who have shunned the locale over the years.
Seafood restaurants are aplenty in the area. Some include the floating Forbes Island restaurant at Pier 39 to stands that serve fresh seafood, most notably Dungeness crab and clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. Some of the restaurants, including Fishermen's Grotto, Pompei's Grotto and Alioto's, go back for three generations of the same family ownership. Other restaurants include chains like Joe's Crab Shack and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
There is a sea lion colony next to Pier 39. They "took-up" residence right after the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989. The sea lions lie on wooden docks that were originally meant for docking boats.
Fisherman's Wharf plays host to many San Francisco events, including a world-class fireworks display for Fourth of July, and some of the best views of the Fleet Week air shows.
One of the city's most popular figures is a harmless but controversial resident of Fisherman's Wharf called the World Famous Bushman, a local street performer who sits behind some branches and startles people who walk by. He has been a permanent entertainer in the Fishermen's Wharf area for the past 30 years and has gained a fair amount of notoriety among the locals and tourists that have been warned about him.