Tag: San Francisco

San Francisco is built on the carcasses of old ships

Very cool. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere.

When the gold rush began in 1848, thousands of people sailed into California, hoping to strike it rich. The ships that sailed there were often just enough to get the crew there. Many would never sail again.

A large portion of the ships that landed in San Francisco Bay were simply left to rot as the crews they brought got caught up in gold fever. At the height of the gold rush, there were 500 to one thousand ships moored in the harbor, clogging up traffic and making the waters almost un-navigable.

The city needed land, and since most of it had already been built on, politicians devised a brilliant solution: start building on the water. The city started selling plots of bay water on the condition that the new owner would turn it into new land. So, ships were intentionally run aground and built into hotels and bars – they became part of the city.

Source: Why is San Francisco’s Foundation is Built on Old Ships from the Mid-1800s? | Interesting Engineering

Reappropriating the artifacts of late-stage capitalism

During our inter-railing adventure this summer, we visited Zurich in Switzerland. In one of the parks there, we came across a dockless scooter, which we promptly unlocked and had a great time zooming around.

As you’d expect, the greatest density of dockless bikes and scooters — devices that don’t have to be picked up or returned in any specific place — is in San Francisco. It seems that, in their attempts to flood the city and gain some kind of competitive advantage, VC-backed dockless bike and scooter startups are having an unintended effect. They’re helping homeless people move around the city more easily:

Hoarding and vandalism aren’t the only problems for electric scooter companies. There’s also theft. While the vehicles have GPS tracking, once the battery fully dies they go off the app’s map.

“Every homeless person has like three scooters now,” [Michael Ghadieh, who owns electric bicycle shop, SF Wheels] said. “They take the brains out, the logos off and they literally hotwire it.”

I’ve seen scooters stashed at tent cities around San Francisco. Photos of people extracting the batteries have been posted on Twitter and Reddit. Rumor has it the batteries have a resale price of about $50 on the street, but there doesn’t appear to be a huge market for them on eBay or Craigslist, according to my quick survey.

Source: CNET (via BoingBoing)