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Docked Forever: Gold Rush Boats Underground
Many ships in Yerba Buena Cove were sunk and covered in soil.

When prospectors converged on San Francisco’s waterfront in the 1840s, eager to find gold, some left their boats in a shallow cove and went off in search of their fortunes. The ships, many in poor shape from the start, began to deteriorate. Some sank. With land at a premium as the city grew, the cove was eventually filled in right over the ships, and some of the owners were able to claim another prize: prime San Francisco real estate. Today, underground streetcars pass through the hull of one ship, and pedestrians in the financial district walk above dozens of boats buried beneath the streets.

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