S.F. Waterlots

The population explosion of Gold Rush-era San Francisco created an unprecedented demand for buildings, structures, homes and warehouses. One of the quickest ways to acquire a "building" was to dismast a ship and relocate it in the shallow aters of the bay. These "buildings" were particularly useful as hotels, restaurants and warehouses. As the fill material created new land for the City of San Francisco, it frequently surrounded these floating "buildings', and made them landlocked. They were gradually incorporated into the bay fill and eventually entombed beneath the city streets.

In 1847, and again in 1850, Yerba Buena Cove was surveyed and subdivied into "water lots" which were subsequently sold at public auction in 1847, 1850, and 1852. The city extended its streets into the waters of the cove by leasing its submerged lands to private individuals who built wharves across the cove and extended commercial enterprise into the deeper anchorage of the bay. Cross-connecting piers or streets on piles were built between the wharves, and the owners of the enclosed water lots subsequently filled their holding with sand, rubble, and broken, outdated, and worn-out household items ranging from chamber pots to broken Frozen Charlotte dolls. Abandoned ships were sometimes scuttled to establish property rights and demonstrate title to water lots. Of particular