SF’s Embarcadero added to national endangered historic places list

The Embarcadero in San Francisco has been named among the country’s most endangered historic places of 2016.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2016 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places highlights locations throughout the U.S. with significant architectural or cultural heritage that are at risk of being destroyed or badly damaged.

Famous for its maritime, commercial and recreational uses, The Embarcadero includes a three-mile promenade with a rich history, including the 1991 removal of the elevated Embarcadero Freeway and the more recent renovation of its iconic Ferry Building.

But The Embarcadero is also threatened by sea level rise and the potential for a major earthquake in the coming years. As the San Francisco Examiner previously reported, a major temblor could significantly impact the foundation of San Francisco’s waterfront, perhaps even rendering The Embarcadero nonfunctional.

That’s according to an “Earthquake Vulnerability Study of the Northern Waterfront” report released in April, which found about $2 billion alone is needed to fix the seawall that stretches between Fisherman’s Wharf and AT&T Park.

The seawall, which was built between 1879 and 1916 by dredging a trench through the mud and filling the trench with rock to create a pyramid-shaped dike that’s capped with a bulkhead wall, along with the bulkhead serve as the foundation for wharves and buildings — many of them historic — constructed along The Embarcadero.

The Port of San Francisco also estimates that sea level will rise up to 66 inches by 2100, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“San Francisco’s Embarcadero captures The City’s rise from Gold Rush port city to cultural and recreational mecca and technological hub, beloved by tourists and residents alike,” Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in a statement.

She added, “An all-hands-on-deck approach will be necessary to assure that the historic Embarcadero not only survives the dual threats of earthquakes and sea level rise, but continues to serve as the historic gateway and cultural, recreational and economic hub for the ‘City by the Bay’ into the next century.”

The list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places has identified more than 270 threatened historic locations since 1988. Last year, San Francisco’s Old U.S. Mint that survived the 1906 earthquake was named among the country’s 11 most endangered historic places for the second time.

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