Red & White Fleet’s Historical Timeline

The History of the Red & White Fleet is truly remarkable. We’ve created a very unique timeline to show you just how San Francisco’s favorite cruise line started operating:

  • 1892 Thomas Crowley creates a new enterprise with a Whitehall rowboat (18-20 feet long), which became the first official “bay cruise” boat on the San Francisco Bay. 
  • 1895 The bay cruise business is incorporated under the name “Thomas Crowley and Brothers”. 
  • 1900 Originally known as “Meigg’s Wharf,” this year officially marks the neighborhood as “Fisherman’s Wharf”. 
  • 1901 Crowley adds gas launch boats “Crowley” and “Spy” to the fleet. 
  • 1903 Two more gas launch boats “Scout” and “Chief” added to the fleet. 
  • 1904 Crowley wins the annual Fourth of July Whitehall Boat race. 
  • 1905 Two more gas launch boats “Comet” and “Meteor” added to the fleet. 
  • 1914 Crowley builds two “double decker” 250-passenger vessels (Crowley #17 and Crowley #18) for participation in the Pan Pacific Worlds Fair Exposition (1915).
  • 1922 British Fleet anchored in the San Francisco bay with Crowley providing ferry service to passengers.
  • 1930-1933 Crowley introduces high-speed “water taxi” vessels, providing excursions for passengers to view the British battleship HMS Hood. 
  • 1934 United States officially takes over Alcatraz as federal prison. 
  • 1936 San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge completed. 
  • 1937 Golden Gate Bridge completed. 
  • 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition takes place on Treasure Island, a celebration of the opening of San Francisco’s two bridges. World War II begins. 
  • 1940 Crowley builds numerous vessels to accommodate local demand for transportation during the war. 
  • 1945 Conversion of the water taxis to passenger vessels from Pier 16.  Crowley transfers his holdings into new company: Red and White Fleet. 
  • 1946 Red and White Fleet purchases passenger vessel General Frank M Coxe and begins service to Angel Island. 
  • 1948 Red and White Fleet builds two sightseeing vessels, “Harbor Sightseer” and “Harbor Tourist” and begins ferry service between Oakland and Alameda Naval Air Station. 
  • 1949 Red and White Fleet begins sightseeing cruises from Fisherman’s Wharf .
  • 1954 Red and White Fleet builds 400 passenger “Harbor King”. 
  • 1955 Historic Balclutha ties up at Pier 43 as museum. 
  • 1956-1957 Red and White Fleet  two 400 passenger vessels, “Harbor Queen” and “Harbor Princess”. 
  • 1960 Red and White Fleet starts Tiburon ferry service. 
  • 1966 Iconic Fisherman’s Wharf sign erected.
  • 1970 Thomas Crowley, founder of the company, dies on August 4. 
  • 1973 Red and White Fleet offers service to Alcatraz.
  • 1982 Red and White Fleet starts ferry service between Fisherman’s Wharf and Sausalito.
  • 1984 Red and White Fleet introduces MV CataMarin, first high speed catamaran on the bay. 
  • 1989 In the aftermath of the Loma Prieta Earthquake, Red and White Fleet transports 15,000 stranded commuters. 
  • 1995 “F” Line historic streetcar service begins along waterfront into Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • 1997 Tom Escher purchases and becomes president of Red and White Fleet.
  • 2010 FDR’s Presidential Yacht, USS Potomac, launches partnership with Red and White Fleet to sell private charters aboard this historic vessel.

Book your cruise with Red & White today!

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