Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

There's history in them thar landfills

Those of us who grew up in SF have always known that most of downtown is built on landfill, and that most of that landfill is old -- with the 1849 Gold Rush, those ships that came to SF harbor were abandoned by passengers and grew anxious to race to the gold fields. The ships ended up sinking, or being sunk, and their presence in the Bay began the creation of the landfill that is downtown (and makes downtown a bad place to be in an earthquake). This bit of history came to light just the other day, in a rather exciting way:

The remains of a massive Gold Rush-era sailing ship dating to the early 1800s have been discovered at the site of a large construction project in downtown San Francisco, archaeologists at the scene confirmed Tuesday. The ship's decaying bow peeked through mounds of earth as workers under the direction of an archaeologist brushed away generations of dirt from its aging timbers. A dig crew unearthed the first portions of the ship last week as they carved away dirt to lay the foundation for a 650-unit condominium development. *** The waters of the San Francisco Bay and the nearby coastline are a graveyard for shipwrecks from centuries past, as schooners, steamers and clippers failed to properly navigate the region's rugged sea floor. But this relic is two large blocks inland, just a stone's throw from the headquarters of Gap Inc.
I love it when a nice piece of history suddenly emerges from the dirt.