fresh water wells in the city : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

Does the brick fresh water well in Chinatown still exist? Are there others in the vicinity?

-- Bill Williams (, December 13, 2002


I've never heard of fresh water wells anywhere in the city.

-- Piano Man (, December 13, 2002.

Actually, there used to be a lot of fresh water wells in SF but they were all shut down by SFWD in the early 20th century. Park & Rec are still allowed to draw ground water. Ya know the windmills out by Ocean Beach - they weren't there for looks. They provided the water for GG Park. It's now drawn by elctric pumps.

-- Jim Smith (, December 14, 2002.

Indeed Jim. Probably not the best water given seaside on both sides but glad they're still active. Fire battalion chief uncle gave me tours in the mid 50's. Fireboats, firehouses & pump stations. It was great and the red '51 Ford chief's car was tops. Even then tho well water was marginal. Most SF water is, of course, raped from what used to be the beautiful Hetch Hetchy valley.

-- Humph! (, December 22, 2002.

Sometimes water was discovered in unusual places...

Niantic a ship "now fast disappearing." [57] " the corner of Sansome and Clay streets, where her old hulk forms the foundation of the hotel of the same name." [57b] "That brings us down to the famous old Niantic, previously one of Goodhue's China ships out of New York, and was subsequently fitted out at Warren, Rhode Island, for a sperm Whaler. Captain Cleveland was her Master and his two sons were first and second officers. She turned up at Payta in 1849 and found a communication there from the American Consul at Panama, Mr. Nelson, stating that there was quite an emigration from Panama to San Francisco. Having a good supply on board he went there, and having secured 280 passengers, 20 of whom were in the cabin, she set sail from there on May 1st. Lost one passenger on the voyage, and first made Bodega Head and arrived in San Francisco at 11 PM, July 5th. The try works formerly used for trying out blubber was the kitchen. Among the steerage stewards were A. C. Bradford, afterward a District Judge in an adjacent county, and other was Harry Hoag. Of her passengers several have since become very rich. A. A. Hyatt owned one of the finest ranches in Solano county. Joe Douglas became a prominent financier and capitalist in Placerville, and a Mr. Orowell a prominent flour dealer. C. E. McDonald, whose is now located on Leidesdorff street, was also a passenger. There were also on board four negroes with their Southern owners. Every one knows where the bones of the old craft lay under the Niantic building, corner Clay and Sansome. George Ward had her there as a store-ship for some time. The old craft settled there, when foundations were being made through her for building purposes, one of her pump logs was driven down for a pile, and when well down it struck a stream of water, which formed an artesian well and supplied the inhabitants with water for several years..." [82] "I helped haul the ship Niantic in and sink her at the northwest corner of Clay and Sansome in the fall of '49. There is a house built over her now. Her bow is toward Montgomery. She was used as a hotel for a long time. A hollow pile was driven down through the stern below the salt- water line and about the best water in the town was pumped from that well..."; partly burned. [90] "Larkin [places her] NW corner of Sansome and Clay." [BA] "Workers excavating for the new Pacific Mutual Building at Clay and Sansome streets began finding hunks of old timber last week, but it wasn't until yesterday they were certain of what they had found - the hull of one of the original Gold Rush ships, the Niantic..." [78] "...[suggested historical area to include:] commencing at a point 100' W of corner of Clay and Sansome on sidewalk line of the N side of Clay, thence 50' due N, thence 90 degrees W, thence 90 degrees due S 50' to Sansome, thence 90 degrees due E 50' to point of beginning." 15 percent of vessel, bow, undisturbed in adjacent lot; 119? feet in length. [87]


-- strange (, June 19, 2004.

There are or were definitley a few. I saw an article in the Exam. or Chron shortly after the 89 quake with maps of the wells in SF that had been sunk and still existed. I am trying to locate the article and the wells.

-- Kevin M. Sullivan (, December 29, 2004.

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