Time slips like sand between our fingers. Although that time never returns, you can witness right now a reverse process on Ocean Beach. The old times of San Francisco just came back through shifting sands that revealed mysterious structures like the cobblestone stairs and seawall near Taraval Street on the beach.
After the El Niño Storms, ruins of the Taraval Pedestrian Tunnel and Seawall emerged like a lost city out of the sand. In the 1920s, a pedestrian tunnel was constructed underneath the Great Highway at Taraval Street. Winter storms with powerful waves damaged the structures of the tunnel and the seawall that was supposed to stabilize the dunes. In the 1980s, the erosion damage caused the Great Highway to partly collapse onto the beach. A major renovation was necessary. When a giant sewer tunnel was placed underneath the beach, the Taraval underpass was dismantled. The remains of the tunnel and the seawall were buried under sand. The structures vanished from view, until it started reappearing this February.
A couple of years back, tombstones were surfacing on Ocean Beach. They came from Laurel Hill Cemetery, which was relocated to Colma after 1937. In the 1940s, old gravestones and pillars from mausoleums were used instead of constructing another seawall near Rivera Street to stop the beach erosion. I couldn’t find any inscriptions on the stones, but the shape of some could be identified as tombstones and pieces of mausoleums.
The pipe that was recently revealed near Sloat Boulevard is probably part of the old pipe system of the Fleishhacker Pool. The pool opened in 1925, as the largest heated outdoor swimming pool in the United States. It was 1,000 feet long and 150 feet wide. Lifeguards had to use wooden boats because of its immense size. Through a pipeline from the ocean, salt water was pumped into the pool at high tide and then pumped out at low tide. The pool was closed in 1971 when a large storm damaged the intake pipe. Budget constraints prohibited its restoration. It was demolished in 2002 and became a parking lot for zoo visitors.