San Francisco Embarcadero Listed As Endangered Historic Site

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco’s Embarcadero District was cited Wednesday as being among America’s “most endangered” historic places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington.

The National Trust, a private nonprofit, describes the annual list as a way of identifying “important examples of the nation’s architectural and cultural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.” Being listed by the trust as an endangered place can mobilize grassroots and political support along with funding for preservation. Fewer than 5 percent of the more than 250 sites the group has highlighted in the past have been lost.

The trust describes the Embarcadero as an “iconic waterfront” that needs “long-term planning” to cope with rising sea levels and earthquake vulnerability.

“It means that this is really a historic resource for the people of the city and county, and of the state, to enjoy,” said Port of San Francisco Interim Director Elaine Forbes.

Forbes also noted the Embarcadero’s three-mile seawall sits on mud, meaning the Embarcadero will fare less well than once predicted in the case of an earthquake.

“We are pencils down working on a planning study to make significant investment in this infrastructure to improve its seismic stability,” said Forbes.

According to the 2012 National Research Council study, by the year 2100, the tides may be 66 inches higher than they are today.

“It’s not just the San Francisco Bay, it’s the entire Bay Area region that needs to come together to address sea level rise.”

Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park domes and Utah’s Bears Ears area were also among the sites on the endangered list, which is not without controversy. As in San Francisco, some projects require enormous funding commitments; others may involve stopping or changing redevelopment proposals. Restoring all three glass-and-concrete domes in Milwaukee’s Mitchell Park, for example, could cost up to $71 million, according to a Milwaukee government website.

And in Utah, a majority of state legislators oppose a proposal from a coalition of tribes to designate the Bears Ears area as a national monument, saying that closing the area off to development will hurt the local economy. The National Trust, in contrast, said Bears Ears’ 1.9 million-acre “cultural landscape” of archaeological sites, cliff dwellings and petroglyphs is threatened by “looting, mismanaged recreational use and energy development.”

Other sites listed by the National Trust as endangered:

—Lions Municipal Golf Course in Austin, Texas, cited as an “unheralded civil rights landmark” as one of the South’s first desegregated municipal golf courses. The National Trust said the site faces development pressure.

—Azikiwe-Nkrumah Hall at Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University, cited as “the oldest building on the campus of the first degree-granting institution in the nation for African Americans.” The empty building now “faces an uncertain future.”

—South Carolina’s Charleston Naval Hospital District, a re-entry point for U.S. servicemen injured in Europe and Africa during World War II. The National Trust expressed concern over a rail line proposed for the area.

—The Delta Queen, a 1926 steamboat in Houma, Louisiana. The Trust would like to see the boat return to overnight passenger cruising as a way of “securing” its future.

—The El Paso neighborhoods, Chihuahuita and El Segundo Barrio, where the National Trust says “homes and small businesses are threatened by demolition.”

—Historic buildings in Flemington, New Jersey, including the Union Hotel, which housed people involved in the 1935 Lindbergh baby kidnapping case, known as the “trial of the century.” The National Trust says the buildings would be demolished under a development proposal.

—The James River in Virginia at Jamestown, where America’s first permanent English settlement was founded in 1607. The National Trust cited a proposed transmission line as threatening the river’s “scenic integrity.”

—A 2-mile corridor of midcentury modern architecture on Tucson’s Broadway Boulevard, which the National Trust says could face demolition for a transportation project.

The National Trust chooses its “most endangered” sites from nominations using three criteria: national significance, urgency and potential solutions, including the strength of local efforts.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


One Comment

  1. KC says:

    A private nonprofit. Who do real estate owners have to bribe to get listed with them?
    I call BS. This is the same BS as that other private nonprofit which claims that SF’s parks are among the best in the country. Only if you ever visit any other parks around the Bay Area you quickly realize what a joke that is. You can detect the stench of dog urine 2 blocks away from most city parks, and I would not want to sit anywhere in any of them.
    This is all about driving up property values so real estate owners and developers can cash in.

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