The water that lies beneath our feet and foundations…

One of my clients was doing research on her soon-to-be neighborhood. After we saw a historic map of the areas as part of the disclosure process she did a little more digging and found some interesting data from Found SF, a great resource for the City. Among her findings:

Mission Creek was navigable until 1874. By the early twentieth century, the lagoons and creeks of the Mission had been filled with trash and 1906 earthquake rubble, sold as private lots and built upon. But the water was still there, tapped by homes and businesses before the Hetch Hetchy system of subscribed and vended water superseded it. According to a 1913 survey of 700 San Francisco wells, Mission district wells produced more than 1.2 million gallons per day. The survey, one of the first projects of city Engineer Michael M. O’Shaughnessy, began the long process of replacing those wells with Hetch Hetchy Project water.
The springs that feed Mission Creek can still be seen and heard all along the inclines and alleys of Mount Olympus and upper Eureka Valley.

At Clayton Street, where the main waterway’s path crosses Market Street, permanently wet and mossy curbs attest to what was once a small cascade. New Century Beverage (later Pepsi) at Seventeenth Street and Valencia where the police station now stands, supplied their bottling operations into the 1990s from free and potable waters flowing under their property. Atlas Home Laundry linen cleaning service, which was just replaced by a new development at Seventeenth and Hoff (between Mission and Valencia Streets), drew 10,000 gallons a day of groundwater before it closed.

Mission Dolores is a lasting tribute to the abundance of this productive watershed. It was erected near the banks of a large tidal inlet fed by Dolores Creek (flowing approximately along Caselli and then Eighteenth Street). Another pond at Belcher Street (near Church and Market) supported an Ohlone village, from which it is likely that the builders of Mission Dolores were conscripted. That pond was fed by Sans Souci Creek from what is now called the Lower Haight. Below the pond, it flowed east down Fourteenth Street to meet the Mission Creek estuary at Fifteenth and Shotwell, where the ground is still sinking dramatically on the site of an oblong marshy inlet.