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Boats Under San Francisco: Real Estate Obscura Stories

The LoanBoss Team August 31, 2022

Did you know that part of the San Francisco peninsula is built on buried ships?


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In 1848, at the beginning of the Gold Rush, hundreds of people flooded into San Francisco looking for gold. They often took barely serviceable ships and simply abandoned their vessels once they arrived, with even the ship's crew and captain heading off to find their fortunes in gold mines.
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Over the next two or three years, the almost one thousand abandoned ships began to crowd parts of the San Francisco peninsula. The Yerba Buena Cove, in particular, was filled with old, decaying ships.
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At the same time, the peninsula was getting overcrowded, and there wasn't enough land. So the city started running some of these ships aground and turning them into warehouses, hotels, stores, and overall, just creating more real estate.
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In 1859, there was a massive fire, and the entire waterfront burned down. Those ships that served as hotels, restaurants etc were now  just wreckage around the peninsula.
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During that time, there was a law governing shipwrecks that gave the rights to the land under a shipwreck to the owner of the ship. The idea was to give the owner of a lost ship the rights to any salvage from the wreck.
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Owners of the abandoned ships took advantage of this law and started going to the hills or around San Francisco to get dirt. They buried their ships, thus creating new, valuable waterfront land for themselves. This process continued until whole portions of the peninsula, including Yerba Buena Cove, were completely filled in.
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Today, the Financial District in San Francisco sits on top of over 70 ships, which you would never know! 
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In 1994, when they started putting in mass transit underneath the city, they had to burrow through hulls of intact ships. Today thousands of people each day pas through these old wrecks going to and from work in San Francisco.
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Want to learn more? Check out these links!