SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Well over a hundred years after San Francisco paved over Mission Creek, the city’s buried marshland is still pumping out problems, but the low-lying mission isn’t the only neighborhood swimming in the city’s original waterways.
“Well, this is like the lowest point in the city, so all of the water sort of collects over here,” Deidre Locklear told KPIX 5’s Wilson Walker.
For restaurant owner Jennifer Bennett, the legacy of that water has been two decades of flooding and foundation damage.
“It was always under these two tables, these back six feet that were collapsing. We had to close every three or four months to fix that corner,” Bennett said.
Eventually, she had to replace the hardwood floors with concrete. But, for her neighbors – the problems continue to this day.
“This entire side of the street, huge problems down on the corner,” Bennett said.
“We know that it’s all still wet down there, even though there’s not as much water as there was back in the days before paving took over San Francisco,” Historian Joel Pomerantz said.
Pomerantz has spent years piecing together what San Francisco spent generations covering up, and with some sharp sleuthing he’s discovered something else that still affects daily life in San Francisco.
“This creek is the one that came down from what we call ‘The Wiggle,’” Pomerantz said.
Yes – the very same wiggle that allows cyclists to avoid San Francisco’s hills.
“I’ve also been able to find a photograph taken in 1862. It shows willows growing in a zig zag through that area. Willows mean water flowing year round,” Pomerantz said.
Bicycles and water move much the same way – they’re looking for the path of least resistance. So when you zig-zag through the wiggle, you’re following the path of that old creek as it ran through what we now call the Lower Haight.
“You can see willows growing in a zig zag pattern leading to that point, which is Haight & Pierce now,” Pomerantz said.