Pier 39, a destination for tourists and, relatedly, sea lions, is celebrating 39 years since entrepreneurial businessman Warren Simmons took over the mostly defunct cargo pier and recreated it with a dash of Disney into an attraction. In that effort, Simmons was assisted, at least according to lore, by the Loma Prieta earthquake. The 1989 quake, the story goes, prompted sea lions to suddenly flock to an empty floating dock beside the pier, where their numbers fluctuate seasonally and at one point, in 2009, reached 2,000.
The Marine Mammal Center isn't completely sold on the story that their migration relates directly to the quake, but the center does think it possible that the animals considered the Pier 39 area safer, in the aftermath of the disaster, as it's in the calmer, protected waters of the Bay. Here's a segment from a 1990 news segment summarizing some of that:
With 39 weeks of 39th Anniversary events that start today with the 27th Anniversary of the sea lions' arrival, Pier 39 hopes to host locals as well as tourists for programming this year. Consider it a golden birthday of sorts: Think outdoor movie nights like a screening of Escape From Alcatraz to a more desperate cash giveaway in April. The entire list of event programming is here.
Sadly, one popular area figure, the famed Bushman of Fisherman's Wharf, passed away in 2014, leaving tourists in the area without anyone to terrify them and then demand compensation. In my mind, it hasn't been the same since.