By the estimate of a San Francisco harbourmaster in April 1850, no less than 62,000 people from across the globe had arrived in the city by the Bay in the preceding 12 months. About 500 ships clogged up Yerba Buena Cove and vicinity.
About 200 of the nicer ships were repurposed as storage for coal, flour, water and other goods in high demand; as boarding houses and hotels; and in one case even as a jail and a church. Eventually, many of the boats that remained were sunk, to secure water lot titles.
From 1851, when a giant fire reduced many ships to their water lines, it was filled with sand. The remaining ships were boxed in between roads and houses, stripped of upper works and their hulks then scuttled to make way for landfill.
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