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Looking Back on the Past Lives of Candlestick Point Before It Becomes a Mall

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Welcome to Hidden Histories, where we highlight a Bay Area location with a secret past. Maybe it's no longer there, maybe it's been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in Bay Area history—even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The tipline's always open, or you can leave a comment after the jump.


After yesterday's rendering reveal showing swaths of Candlestick Point reborn in mall form—though as you recall, the rest of the multibillion-dollar effort includes housing, too—we thought we'd take a look back at the area's early days. And we're not talking Giants and 49ers stadium era: Instead, we're going way back to when the marshy bay fill was home to brick pavers, tanneries, and war housing, with a quarantine hospital proposal thrown in just to keep things interesting.

There's lots of debate on how Candlestick Point got its name. Some say it's because of the long-billed Curlew shorebird that was nicknamed candlestick. Others say it's because an early US Coast Guard survey named it after a rocky outcropping. Those versions are boring, so we prefer the bit of lore claiming that the burning of abandoned sailing ships resembled lighted candlesticks as they sank into the bay.

Way back when, Candlestick Point got its start ... underwater. Turns out the majority of the point that's home to the old Candlestick Park stadium is actually built up bay fill. By the late 1800s, residential subdivisions were purchased and plotted, but none were too successful since there was still cheap housing closer to downtown. But at least it got the streets planned out.

One of the biggest developments was the Bay View Park, a swanky racetrack and hotel financed by George Hearst. Built near Carroll and Ingalls streets, the center of the track wasn't filled in, leaving Yosemite Slough in the middle. The whole thing went under by the end of the century, but it's how the neighborhood got its name.

While the residential development wasn't exactly booming, the neighborhood around South Basin became popular for farming and shipping. Near Candlestick, the Levy Bay View Sheep Skin Tannery Company operated at Jennings and Egbert.

By 1915, there were a few scattered houses near the point, but the biggest player was the Atlas Paving Brick Company (now the site of Griffith Park).

In 1910 Candlestick Point was proposed for a detention hospital for quarantining people with communicable diseases. Owners of the land were not psyched about the idea, and instead lobbied to get the land turned into a public park.

The South San Francisco Dry Dock Company built up a dry dock in 1866 with some funding help from William Ralston. The megacomplex was the biggest in the west and eventually took up more than 36 acres. This eventually became the naval shipyard at Hunters Point when the Navy started docking ships there in 1908 and purchased the company in 1939. In the following decades, construction filled in the South Basin marsh areas with light industrial.

All those naval jobs brought tons of new residents, so the Navy built some wartime employee housing. They constructed the Double Rock War Dwellings—32 buildings with eight apartments each that housed 522 civilian employees—which stood until 1962, when they were torn down for the Alice Griffith public housing. Candlestick Cove War Dwellings were constructed just south of today's Bayview Park.


In 1954, a bond measure was passed to construct a Major League Baseball stadium, and by 1958 Candlestick Park Stadium was under construction. In 1973 the state bought up the outer edges of Candlestick Point for $10 million and in 1977 voted to turn it into a state recreation area, making it the first urban recreation area in the California.

· Urban Outlet Will Anchor New Development at Candlestick Point [Curbed SF]
· Behold, Video of Proposed Development for Candlestick Site [Curbed SF]
· 1944 SF Housing Authority Annual Report [Internet Archive]
· 1945 SF Housing Authority Annual Report [Internet Archive]
· Candlestick Point SRA General Plan [California State Parks]
· Candlestick Point State Recreation Area [California State Parks]
· Candlestick Before and After Stadium Built [Found SF]
· Candlestick Point-Hunters Point Shipyard Phase II Development Plan Project [SF Planning]
· Origins of the Stick [Curbed SF]
· Hidden in the Bayview Was the Bay View Race Track and Park [Curbed SF]