In the early 1900’s, the Dogpatch district was considered San Francisco’s industrial city-center with over 18,000 people working at Pier 70 daily. As one of the only neighborhoods to survive the destructive fires brought on by the earthquake of 1906, the Dogpatch stands as a living archive within the city. This district off the bay was once home to the largest ship and warhead building operation on the west coast during World War I and II.
The architectural presence of the Dogpatch ranges from the wood framed Victorian homes of industrial workers to the industrial steel warehouses dating from between 1860-1945. These industrial structures have a ghostly presence. Their corrugated iron and galvanized steel skins are beginning to deteriorate, revealing the steel skeleton underneath. What was once a bustling center for manufacturing has evolved into a barren graveyard for the deceased 19th century warehouses that sit, barricaded by barbed wire fences, on dirt lots.
Luckily for the Dogpatch, artists and the decaying tend to go hand in hand. The district prides itself as the city’s unpolished scene for artists, designers, and independent businesses. San Francisco’s creative types are attracted to the high ceilings, exposed beams, and open industrial spaces offered by the area. Even with Dogpatch’s long history and evolution, it still has a long journey ahead in establishing itself as a cohesive community by the bay.
Forest City’s Pier 70 redevelopment project is hoping to help this process along by activating Pier 70 as a center for community, markets, housing, artist work spaces, manufacturing, and commercial use. Construction for the Pier 70 redevelopment would begin in 2017 and be completed over 10-15 years.
What is the Pier 70 redevelopment?
- Nearly 2,000 additional housing units (600 of which will be affordable);
- 1.8 million square feet of commercial space;
- 400,000 square feet of retail, artist, and manufacturing space;
- A direct connection to the water for Dogpatch neighbors;
- 9 acres of new green areas near the waterfront;
- Restoration and re-use of historic structures;
- Space for arts, cultural activities, non-profits, and neighborhood services;
- Improved parking and transportation infrastructure.
Maintaining an equally-weighted dialogue between old and new has not been a strong suit of the tech driven city. New buildings will be added alongside the existing industrial war workhorses, which will be restored to house a collection of offices and artist workspaces. The deep-rooted history of the Dogpatch will not be lost, but rather bridged to the present through artisans, workers, and architectural preservation work of today. Along with the physical preservation of the site, the project aims to preserve San Francisco’s steadily diminishing art scene. Numerous artists, designers, and writers are fleeing across the bay to Oakland due to gentrification and increasing rent prices. If successful, the Dogpatch Pier 70 project could reestablish a thriving art scene and community of creators within the city.
Do you believe the redevelopment of Pier 70 could reignite San Francisco’s diminishing art scene? What other redevelopment projects have been successful in other cities?
Credits: Images by Lauren Golightly. Data linked to sources.