Earthquakes, rising seas threaten historic Embarcadero


San Francisco’s Embarcadero District, threatened by rising sea levels and seismically vulnerable infrastructure, was named Wednesday to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2016 list of America’s most endangered historic places.

The Embarcadero Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was one of 11 locations nationwide named to the trust’s 29th annual list, which highlights examples of the nation’s architectural and cultural heritage at risk of destruction or damage.

The Embarcadero, a popular area that hosts maritime uses, a regional ferry hub and tourism, faces threats from earthquakes and rising sea levels, as well as from the sea air and salt water.

A recent study found the city’s 3-mile seawall was more seismically vulnerable in an earthquake than was previously thought, while sea levels are expected to rise up to 66 inches by 2100, according to Port of San Francisco data.

These dangers put at risk an annual $2.1 billion in rents, business income and wages as well as a major contribution to the area’s $11 billion annual tourism industry.

Stephanie Meeks, the National Trust’s president and CEO, said in a statement:

“An all-hands-on-deck approach will be necessary to ensure that the historic Embarcadero continues to serve as the historic gateway and cultural, recreational, and economic hub for the City by the Bay into the next century.”

This year’s National Trust list focuses on historic sites in urban areas, with an emphasis on the role that preservation of historic buildings can play in the revitalization of neighborhoods.

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