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The Buried Ships in San Francisco

Beneath the modern-day streets of San Francisco lie the remains of many sailing ships that brought people to San Francisco during the gold rush that began in 1849. Every day there are thousands of passengers on the underground streetcars in San Francisco who pass through the hull of a 19th-century ship without knowing it! Likewise, the thousands of pedestrians above ground, walk unawares over dozens of old ships buried beneath the streets of the city’s financial district.

For decades, San Francisco was the biggest and roughest port in the entire West. When the Gold Rush began, almost a thousand ships from all over the world came to San Francisco. Many of them burned in the infamous 1851 fire, leaving their hulls and cargoes to be buried by the sand hills of the early city.

The ships have different stories, but many were used at storage as the city's shoreline was expanded outward around them by landfill--some of these and other abandoned ships burned in fires and were buried afterward.  Some of these fires were started deliberately using a loophole in the law to claim the land they sank on afterwards

For further information why not watch the following video or go to the additional links:

The Buried Ships in San Francisco, with Richard Everett - SFHS February 2022 Program

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