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Transbay Transit Center: Evidence of Serious Parties Past

Excavation of the Candace in 2005. Photo Credit: William Self Associates

Projects in potentially historic areas are required to set aside time and money to assess the site's historic usage, and that's where the archaeologists at William Self Associates come in. These are the same people who examined the Candace, the whaling ship sunk in what once waterfront at Folsom and Spear Street (above) and currently entombed beneath the Infinity towers. Now, a few blocks away, they're sifting though the detritus of early San Francisco life at First and Minna Streets, part of the Transbay Transit Center site. Twelve feet down. The neighborhood was obliterated in the 1906 firestorm, and later leveled for development, but:

Eleven feet down, there was tableware manufactured in Philadelphia and coins not minted as money that also came from Philadelphia,” lead archeologist Heather Price said. “And from the ground surface all the way to 12 feet below, we found fancy serving platters ... and many, many liquor bottles.” While not as spectacular as an abandoned ship, the dig provides a better chronicle of life here in the 19th century. The "tokens not minted as money" sound vaguely nefarious but the liquor bottles line up with San Francisco's early reputation for alcoholic consumption. With luck, some of the artifacts will be displayed in the new transit center, perhaps with bits and bobs from the recently demolished terminal. Which brings up the inevitable question: what- or who- is under your house?
· William Self Associates [William Self Associates]
· Remnants of Boozy Village Found [SFExaminer]

Transbay Transit Center

85 Natoma Street, San Francisco, CA