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SF’s Historic Pier at Aquatic Park Closed Forever?

The Municipal Pier will remain closed until long-term repairs, costing about $100 million, can be made
By - posted 11/24/2022 No Comment

Thanks to SF Gate for sharing the news that unfortunate news that Aquatic Park’s municipal pier may be closed forever.

The pier had been in need of repairs for a long time but after the recent 5.1 magnitude earthquake in October 2022 shook the Bay, an inspection on the pier found it unsafe.

According to the National Park Service, after a safety review with the U.S. Public Health Service, it was determined that the deterioration of Municipal Pier in Aquatic Park Cove is unsafe for public use. Municipal Pier will remain closed until permanent, long-term repairs can be made.

Built in 1929 to create a protected cove where City residents could swim and recreate, the pier is now a threatened landmark in need of major repair. Although built strong, decades of standing against winter storms and pounding waves have significantly weakened this 1400-foot walkway over San Francisco Bay.

Repairs are expected to cost approximately $100 million, and the pier is not expected to reopen until permanent long-term fixes are in place.

History of the Municipal Pier

The pier was constructed on the site of the Army Quartermaster’s Pier at the northwest corner of Fort Mason. The pier was designed for recreation, but it also incorporated an innovative baffle system that functioned to mitigate the effects of the bay currents on the cove. The pier included electrical power lines for lamps along the length of the structure, and water conveyance infrastructure for the convenience station, which was planned for the end of the pier. The baffles incorporated into the pier structure serve as a breakwater. Some riprap has been added over the years to act against scouring at the mud line. The pier is curvilinear in plan with a round, bulb-like end. The reinforced concrete and jacketed wood pilings support a concrete deck. Concrete curbs along the outer edges of the roadway serve both as a conduit for utility pipes and as a divider between vehicles and pedestrians. Concrete benches and streetlights are located at even intervals along the length of the pier. Few of the original streetlights function, and in some cases fixtures have been broken or removed and only the poles remain. The pier railing was designed to accommodate the placement of the concrete benches. Notches in the railing opposite the benches provide easier access for fishing and improve views to the water while seated.

During the military’s use of the park between 1942 and 1948, an Army tug crashed into the pier, causing severe structural damage. Repairs were made in 1947 and the pier was returned to the city in early 1948. The pier was also seriously damaged when it was rammed in a heavy fog by a freighter on February 3, 1953. The convenience station and lifesaving station at the end of the pier was less than 50 percent complete when the WPA turned the project over to the city. These structures remain unfinished today. The circular building was designed to match the other two convenience stations in Aquatic Park. Only the rough concrete exterior was constructed. (Excerpted from the 2010 Aquatic Park Cultural Landscape Report. The complete report is available for download here.)