Bayview-Hunters Point, San Francisco
Bayview-Hunters Point or The Bayview, is a neighborhood in the southeastern corner of San Francisco, California, United States. The decommissioned Hunters Point Naval Shipyard is located within its boundaries and Candlestick Park is on the southern edge.
Redevelopment projects for the neighborhood became the dominant issue of the 1990s and 2000s. Efforts includ e the Bayview Redevelopment Plan for Area B, which includ es approximately 1300 acres of existing residential, commercial and industrial lands. This plan identifies seven economic activity nodes within the area. The former Navy Shipyard waterfront property is also the target of redevelopment to includ e residential, commercial, and recreational areas.
Primarily composed of tidal wetlands with some small hills, the area was inhabited by the Ohlone people prior to the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the 1700s. It was first surveyed in 1775 by Juan Bautista Aguirre, a ship pilot for Captain Juan Manuel de Ayala who named it La Punta Concha (English: Conch Point). Later explorers renamed it Beacon Point. For the next several decades it was used as pasture for cattle run by the Franciscan monks at Mission Dolores.
In 1839, the area was part of the 4,446-acre (17.99 km2) Rancho Rincon de las Salinas y Potrero Viejo Mexican land grant given to José Cornelio Bernal (1796–1842). Following the California Gold Rush, Bernal sold Bayview-Hunters Point property for real estate development in 1849. Little actual development occurred but Bernal’s agents were three brothers, John, Phillip and Robert Hunter, who built their homes and dairy farm on the land (then near the present-day corner of Griffith Street and Oakdale Avenue) and who gave rise to the name Hunters Point.
After a San Francisco ordinance in 1868 banned the slaughter and processing of animals within the city proper, a group of butchers established a “butchers reservation” on 81-acre (0.33 km2) of tidal marshland in the Bayview district. Within ten years, 18 slaughterhouses were located in the area along with their associated production facilities for tanning, fertilizer, wool and tallow. The “reservation” (then bounded by present-day Ingalls Street, Third Street, from Islais Creek to Bayshore) and the surrounding houses and businesses became known as Butchertown. The butcher industry declined following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake until 1971 when the final slaughterhouse closed.
Shipbuilding became integral to Bayview-Hunters Point in 1867 with the construction there of the first permanent drydock on the Pacific coast. The Hunters Point Dry Docks were greatly expanded by Union Iron Works and Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation and were capable of housing the largest ships that could pass through the locks of the Panama Canal. World War I increased the contracts there for building Naval vessels and, in 1940, the United States Navy purchased a section of property to develop the San Francisco Naval Shipyard. Beginning in the 1920s, a strong presence of Maltese American immigrants, along with Italian Americans, began populating the Bayview, focused on the local Catholic St. Paul of the Shipwreck Church and the Maltese American Social Club. They were a presence until the 1960s when they began moving into the suburbs.
The shipbuilding industry saw a large influx of blue collar workers into the neighborhood, many of them African Americans taking part in the Great Migration. This migration into Bayview increased substantially after World War II due to racial segregation and eviction of African Americans from homes elsewhere in the city. Between 1940 and 1950, the population of Bayview saw a fourfold increase to 51,000 residents.
The Bayview-Hunters Point district was labelled “Southern San Francisco” on some maps, not to be confused with the city of South San Francisco further to the south.
Until 1969, the Hunters Point shipyard was the site of the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (NRDL). The NRDL decontaminated ships exposed to atomic weapons testing and also researched the effects of radiation on materials and living organisms. This caused widespread radiological contamination and, in 1989, the base was declared a Superfund site requiring long-term clean-up. The Navy closed the shipyard and Naval base in 1994. The Base Realignment and Closure program manages various pollution remediation projects.
From 1929 until 2006 the Bayview-Hunters Point district were home for the coal and oil-fired power plants which provided electricity to San Francisco. Smokestack effluvium and byproducts dumped in the vicinity have been cited for health and environmental problems in the neighborhood. In 1994, the San Francisco Energy Company proposed building another power plant in the neighborhood, but community activists protested and pushed to have the current facility shut down. In 2008, Pacific Gas and Electric Company demolished the Hunters Point Power Plant and began a two-year remediation project to restore the land for residential development.
By the 1960s, the Bayview and Hunters Point neighborhoods were populated predominantly by African-Americans and other racial minorities, and the area was isolated from San Francisco. The hyphenated name “Bayview-Hunters Point” became the official designation for the district. Pollution, substandard housing, declining infrastructure, limited employment and racial discrimination were notable problems. James Baldwin documented the marginalization of the community in a 1963 documentary stating “this is the San Francisco, America pretends does not exist.” In 1966, racial tensions sparked a race riot at Hunters Point. Closure of the naval shipyard, shipbuilding facilities and de-industrialization of the district in the 1970s and 1980s increased unemployment and local poverty levels.
Building projects to revitalize the district began in earnest in the 1990s and the 2000s. As in the rest of the city, housing prices rose 342% between 1996 and 2008. Many long-time African American residents, whether they could no longer afford to live there or sought to take advantage of their homes’ soaring values, left what they perceived as an unsafe neighborhood and made an exodus to the Bay Area’s outer suburbs. Once considered a historic African American district, the percentage of black people in the Bayview-Hunters Point population declined from 65 percent in 1990 to a minority in 2000. Despite the decline, the 2010 U.S. Census shows the African American population in the Bayview to be greater in number than that of any other ethnicity.
In the 2000s, the neighborhood became the focus of several redevelopment projects. The MUNI T-Third Street light-rail project was built through the neighborhood, replacing an aging bus line with several new stations, street lamps and landscaping. Private developer Lennar Inc. proposed a $2-billion project to build 10,500 homes, including rentals, and commercial spaces atop the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, and a new football stadium for the San Francisco 49’ers, and a shopping complex for Candlestick Point. The stadium would reinvigorate the district, but the 49ers changed their focus to Santa Clara in 2006. A bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics in San Francisco that includ ed plans to build an Olympic Village in Bayview-Hunters Point was also dropped. Lennar Inc. proposed to build the stadium without the football team. Local community activist groups have criticized much of the redevelopment for displacing rather than benefiting existing neighborhood residents.
As of 2014, Lennar works on the mixed-use development, promising “12,500 new homes; 4 million-plus square feet of office, commercial and retail space; and 300 acres of open parks, trails and fields”, although no rentals.