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SF’s Newest, Hottest, & Totally (Not) Toxic Beach!

Updated: Oct 03, 2021 11:05
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San Francisco’s newest beach can be found in the Dogpatch District, in one of our cities oldest industrial coves.  It’s dotted with memorabilia of long past industrial blood, sweat and pollution.  It’s San Francisco’s hottest, newest and totally-not-toxic-anymore, beach!

Crane Cove Park, SF.    All Photos by Alex Mak @alexmaksf

Sandwiched between SF’s beloved brunch spot The Ramp, World War II era cranes, rusted piers, and what looks like piles of polluted soil under a white tarp (see background of above image), is Crane Cove Park, a tribute to “San Francisco Industry”.

From Crane Cove you can see The Ramp, the new Warrior’s Stadium, and even the Bay Bridge in the distance.

This cove has a lot of industrial history dating back to the mid 1800s!  There is a commemorative sign in the park of perhaps the most surprising (albeit disgusting) images I’ve ever seen!

“The Pacific Whaling Company had wharves and a corporation yard nearby in which fronds of baleen (the plankton-straining sheets in a whale’s mouth) were set to dry in row upon row of barrels, looking like nothing so much as palm fronds waving in the breeze.”
– San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

A fleet of whalers in the port of San Francisco in 1864 (Sketched by M. C. Palmer.

Excerpt from Invasion of the Whalers” by Leo Rosenhouse:  “In 1890, baleen from the jaws of whales was dried in then ‘Artic Oil Works’ yard (now Crane Cove Park area).  In 1890, San Francisco was the “Whaling Capital of the World” surpassing New Bedford, Massachusetts for the title.”

But Crane Cove is not just famous for whale butchery, it was well known for steel production and its big ship slip!

A big ship ‘slip’. Crane Cove Park.

The Cove’s ‘Building 49’ operated as a hub for modern shipbuilding, largely from 1884 to 1945.

Building 49 is under renovation.

Crane Cove Park actually first opened one year ago in September of 2020, but there was not too much fanfare.  The massive boat hanger building is still not quite renovated (which will be used for public restrooms, bike parking, & boat launch & drop-off).  The park’s main feature is the massive ship loading ramp, called a ‘slip’,  that presumably massive ship fans are very excited about.

Crane Cove Park Plans by Port of San Francisco. Located East of Illinois Street between 19th and Mariposa Streets along the Bay shoreline

‘Building 49’ and this cove operated as a hub for modern shipbuilding, largely from 1884 to 1945.  It’s where steel components were galvanized and where many ships of commerce and war were launched.

Crain Cove Park is part of the newish “Blue Greenway,” a series of waterfront public access connecting the city to the shore via pathways, parks and open spaces, originally proposed during the Newsom administration, then work began during the Lee administration.  (see full greenway plans & designs here.)

They’re still finishing building 49’s retrofit and have yet to build the playground, but the beach and the grassy knolls are very much open.

I saw people actually launching from the beach. I personally wouldn’t touch that water with a ten foot pole, but according to the State, the water is safe at Crane Cove Park.

And wow, look at those cranes. Oh boy, so many cranes!

The water quality meets State of California bacteria standards for water recreation in Crane Park Cove.  And the general area, all the way down to Hunter’s Point was again found safe from radiation (but not without controversy) in 2020.

This cove reminded me a great deal of San Francisco’s original ‘Toxic Beach”, located just a few blocks away at the end of 24th St,. behind the Sheedy Crane company yard.

Warm Water Cove formerly known as ‘Toxic Beach’:

‘Warm Water Cove” aka Toxic Beach.  All photo by Alex Mak.

Toxic Beach, SF

Known as “Toxic Beach” or “Tire Beach” for its abundance of discarded rubber, this wonderful coastal gem was where they used to throw renegade raves in the 90’s up until the 2010’s, and there were some infamous punk shows thrown there too that I’ve only heard about (probably dating back to the 80’s…hell, maybe the 1880’s).

At low tide you could see lots of algae covered rubber and other discarded industrial waste in the waters, but back then, on a weekend there was no one there to bother, and no one who cared to bust up a huge, loud party in the night or day.

The plants around there still look like they’ve been poisoned a bit, and you’ll be happy to know I saw a small amount of fresh graffiti on the breakwater too.

Warm Water Cove aka Toxic Beach, Sf.

In the last decade they’ve cleaned up much of the rubber, added a little pathway, reminded everyone it was called ‘Warm Water Cove‘, and added it to the ‘Blue Greenway’.

The Blue Greenway is a series of revitalized public parks and recreational areas from Mission Bay all the way to Hunter’s Point. It’s a great public program. Creating safe, public parks along our very beaten-up eastern coastline is long overdue, and we love it.

The Blue Greenway series of parks

We do poke some fun at Crane Cove Park, mostly because of its unsettling Victorian era history, but let’s be real, history is important!  And having a park dedicated to celebrating ‘industrial cranes’, is hilarious.   So go and checkout the Blue Greenway, most of it is very bicycle AND kayak friendly.

Blue Greenway Virtual Tour (2016)


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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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