SF Embarcadero placed on list of endangered historic places

The National Trust for Historic Preservation put The Embarcadero, the palm tree- lined promenade along San Francisco's waterfront, on its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Place because it could erode into The Bay due to seismic activity.

A haven for joggers, cyclists, and tourists, the famed three-mile stretch is at risk of being destroyed, according to an "Earthquake Vulnerability Study of the Northern Waterfront" report released in April.

"I've been living over here for the past 8 years and we were thinking about buying property over here," said Kristen Larsen, "and now it's a little bit scary thinking that it could all be into the sea."

"Over time we're facing real significant threats here," admitted Anthony Veerkamp, with the San Francisco Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Veerkmap says rising sea levels coupled with a potential earthquake could impact the waterfront's foundation.

"We saw it in the Marina after Loma Prieta where the ground liquefies and you will see kind of like geysers in some places, but really the issue is that the entire infrastructure is going to settle unevenly," said Veerkamp.

Veerkamp said that buildings would become unusable and the seawall would slip toward the bay. Crews built the seawall in the late 1800s early 1900s by dredging a trench through bay mud and filling it with rocks stacked into a pyramid, topped with a retaining wall. Not only is that wall in danger of crumbling but the sea level is expected to rise by 66 inches by the year 2100.

"During King Tides, for example," said Veerkamp, "We were already seeing water overtopping the Embarcadero in some places, so we're going to see more of that sort of nuisance flooding decade by decade."

The city is now trying to figure how to foot the $2-$5 billion bill to repair the seawall. It could reinforce the current wall or build a second wall farther out into the Bay to provide extra support.

"I think it’s about time that San Francisco begins to think about this stuff,” said Sheila Babnis of San Carlos, who visits the Embarcadero regularly. "Not only the infrastructure here, but it's the infrastructure across the city. It's a great place and I think it needs to be here for years to come."