Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.
San Francisco boasts not only iconic landmarks but also a wealth of lesser-known abandoned places, each with its own intriguing story. We’re taking you on a journey through time, from grand railway stations to colossal swimming complexes, now standing as silent yet evocative remnants of the past. Fasten your seatbelts for a fascinating exploration of the city’s hidden nooks and crannies.
The Bayshore Roundhouse
Step into a bygone era of train travel at the abandoned Bayshore Roundhouse. Once the cornerstone of a thriving rail junction handling tens of thousands of trains, it now silently narrates the story of the mighty steam engines giving way to diesel supremacy. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this last brick roundhouse in California offers a unique exploration opportunity of a faded yet fascinating chapter of railway history.
16th Street Station
16th Street Station is a forgotten gem of Oakland’s railroad past and has been reborn as a unique event space. This former transportation hub, crafted in Beaux-Arts style by Jarvis Hunt, was one of three grand stations in Oakland but saw a decline in the latter half of the 20th century. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake was the final knockout punch for the station, which was then left abandoned for several decades. Despite now being a a private event space, much of the urban feel is still there including graffiti and industrial structures.
J’s Amusement Park
J’s Amusement Park went from a beloved family-owned amusement park that entertained residents and visitors of San Francisco, to a camping site, to an abandoned ghost town in its 50-year history. Once buzzing with activity, from adrenaline-pumping rides to lively campground events such as “Dr. Evil’s House of Horrors,” by 2015 the property was left to decay with remnants of its rollercoasters, go-kart track, and waterslide still standing.
Land’s End Octagon House
Tucked away amidst the cypress woods of Lands End, the abandoned Land’s End Octagon House, once known as the Point Lobos Marine Exchange Lookout Station, offers a unique dive into San Francisco’s history. Built in the 1920s, the distinctly-shaped building is where lookouts would watch for approaching ships and pass on their arrivals to the distant Embarcadero. Follow the signs to Fort Miley and embark on an offbeat exploration of this forgotten landmark.
Fleishhacker Pool was once one of the world’s largest outdoor swimming pools, where lifeguards used rowing boats to keep an eye on those frolicking in the water. Sadly it was later demolished due to a lack of city funding and today it stands as a parking lot for San Francisco’s Zoo. There is one remaining structure known as Mother’s Building that can be found inside the zoo.
Venture into the ghostly hush of Cosson Hall, a former naval base nestled on San Francisco’s famed ‘Treasure Island’. Left deserted since the 1990s, this stark building soon became a haven for graffiti artists and urban explorers with tales of hauntings and the echoing of laughter drawing in those brave enough to visit!
Dive into the remnants of Sutro Baths, an abandoned public saltwater swimming complex, once the world’s largest. Its ruins, whispering tales of San Francisco’s bustling past, are perfect for any history enthusiasts or urban explorers. Uncover the labyrinthine passageways, a mysterious cave tunnel, and the fading memory of a grand diving pool in this unique snapshot of history!
Mare Island Naval Shipyard
Discover the haunting beauty of the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, an abandoned U.S. Navy base on the Pacific Ocean, nestled in Vallejo. Once a bustling hub of shipbuilding and defense operations, the shipyard now stands largely deserted. Despite the warning signs, this vast, time-frozen site has become a magnet for urban explorers seeking a unique delve into military history.
Hunters Point Naval Shipyard
Another abandoned shipyard in San Francisco is Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in the southeast corner of the city. Purchased by the Navy just a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor, it stands as a silent reminder of the city’s military past. While its current status doesn’t allow for direct exploration, the shipyard’s history and its prime waterfront location certainly make for an intriguing story.
Grain Silos at Pier 90
Discover an unexpected gem of urban art at the abandoned Grain Silos at Pier 90, located near the Islais Creek Channel. Standing empty since the 1989 earthquake, these former global grain export hubs now form the canvas for the vibrant Bayview Rise mural. This fusion of history and artistry makes the site an intriguing destination for urban explorers and art enthusiasts alike.
Step into a slice of San Francisco’s past at the Albion Brewery, a defunct brewery that has stood the test of time. Nestled near the Hunters Point Springs, this concealed city landmark has evolved from a popular brewery to a prohibition-era water company and is now a venue for select events.
Fort Miley, a once formidable military installation on Point Lobos, is now an intriguing remnant of San Francisco’s yesteryears. Explore the vestiges of defensive structures amidst the woods, and unravel the unique history of a fort erected over a colossal cemetery, its eerie past adding an air of mystery. Nestled within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, this partial military ghost town presents an offbeat destination steeped in history.