Jon Crispin's Notebook

Pier 70, San Francisco

Posted in Abandoned Buildings, Architecture, Buildings, Cities, History, Ships by joncrispin on 25/05/2013

Due to a remarkable set of circumstances I was invited to stay at the home of Toby and Jerry Levine while I was in San Francisco.  My friend Meredith from the Pelham Cultural Council is a great friend of theirs and encouraged me to get in touch before my trip.  They were super hosts and are both very involved in San Francisco neighborhood preservation and development.  Toby serves on several boards and seems to be familiar with every important neighborhood issue both past and present.  At one point early in my stay she asked me if I was interested in large industrial sites.  Indicating that I was, she made arrangements for me to have a tour of a few buildings at Pier 70 that are slated for development.

I only had about an hour and just my little cameras with me, but Everardo, who interns with the development company gave us a grand tour of buildings 112/113 and 104.

I get so jazzed about shooting in these environments.

There is something about this time in the life of a building that intrigues me.

Since I was not able to photograph during its productive era, I can only imagine what was happening in these rooms when they were in use.

But there is usually enough evidence left behind to give an inkling to what it might have been like to work here.

And the light is always so natural and soft.

This building is huge.  It was part of a ship building and dry dock  facility which at one time was part of Bethlehem Steel.  I believe that it was originally the Union Iron Works.

Which at one time must have employed a ton of people.

I especially like old locker rooms and bathrooms.

Nice sign over the urinals.

It is not difficult to imagine people using these sinks after a long day’s work.

I like this little office in the middle of everything.

This is a view of the second floor of 113.

How about the red fingernails painted on this stylized hand which points the way to the rest room?

This color green shows up regularly in buildings like this one.  The light fixtures give a bit of a clue to when this office space was last renovated.  I’d say mid 1960’s.

These last few shots are from building 104 which seems to have been mostly used for administrative offices.

This is the top floor of 104.  You can just see the skylights which at some time were painted black.

The staircases are fantastic.

More lockers here, and it seems odd to me that they were in what was essentially an office building.

There was a small hospital in one wing of 104, and with all the machinery that is saw, I can imagine it was a busy place at times.

Thanks so much to the Orton Development people for granting me access to these amazing buildings.  And of course to Toby and Jerry.  Here are a few links to learn more about the site, its history, and future.  Click here and here.

15 Responses

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  1. drawandshoot said, on 25/05/2013 at 8:27 pm

    Those buildings are wonderful. So, they will be rehabilitated and repurposed? So much potential.
    Beautiful images.

    • joncrispin said, on 26/05/2013 at 6:40 pm

      Hi Draw….Yep, they are slated for development, but in a really good way. They are owned by the Port and should be properly fixed up. Lots of open (park) space and interesting layouts. We’ll see. It is such a cool part of town. Thanks. Jon

  2. E Porter said, on 26/05/2013 at 12:43 am

    What were the original uses of these buildings? How long have they been vacant?

    • joncrispin said, on 26/05/2013 at 6:35 pm

      they were originally used in ship building. I think they have been vacant for about 10 years.

  3. Alexandra Nyfors said, on 26/05/2013 at 7:27 am

    One of the best blog entries you’ve made, I think, besides you original posts about the suitcases. Everything about these pictures is so evocative.
    I was a child from an area that was run by a Bethlehem Steel plant, and half my friends fathers worked there. All with short crew cuts. All would wash up at those kind of sinks at the end of a shift. There were indeed horrible accidents and people were killed. A guy I went to school with lost his foot to hot steel in the 70’s after we were all out of school and the next generation had gone into the plants.
    Seeing these pictures brings back an entire era of the way things were. And the reason that there were lockers is because the central area of that administration floor would be the “steno pool” and would be filled with desks which weren’t personally assigned. The only personal space was your locker and you had to keep your purse and coat in the locker during your shift.

    • joncrispin said, on 26/05/2013 at 6:41 pm

      Alexandra, thanks for your lovely comment. It means so much to me that my pictures inspire you to remember your past. All best, Jon

  4. Liz Hughes Wiley said, on 26/05/2013 at 9:28 am

    As a former but long-time San Francisco resident, I’ve always been fascinated by the Pier buildings. Some are still active…others, like this one… Thank you for letting me see inside. They’re beautiful photos, evocative, mysterious, wonderful (as always).

  5. Beth Johnson said, on 26/05/2013 at 12:25 pm

    I just love the photo of the old blue lockers. I wonder about the people who used them and their lives. Who had locker 1123? Was it a working stiff who had mouths to feed at home? Or was he a happy man with a supportive wife and well behaved children? Did he like the job or was it just a paycheck? Love mulling over this stuff and love your photos. They are a treat to open every day in my inbox.

    • joncrispin said, on 26/05/2013 at 6:42 pm

      Beth, thanks for your thoughts on the lockers. You just have to wonder,don’t you? Best, Jon

  6. Kay Grady said, on 27/05/2013 at 4:50 pm

    My kingdom for a print of the “WOMEN” fingernail photo! Made me LOL! The rest? …I LOVE your “vision”. Thank you soooo much for sharing!!

  7. MaryMac said, on 27/05/2013 at 6:37 pm

    Beautiful photos. I used to live in the lovely City by the bay. I was always fascinated by the old piers. I love the interior shots of the building and love that it will be redeveloped. I pray they will honor the history of the space. Thanks for the look inside. Great work.

  8. Kerry Baldridge said, on 02/12/2013 at 7:48 pm

    I would need an entire second lifetime to enjoy all that you are sharing here. Thank you so much! Incredible….


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