The Neighborhood Through Time
Reforming the Landscape
The natural setting of South of Market made it an ideal location for many industries. Fast flowing springs could provide the necessary water for industries like sugar-refining, stock-butchering, and tanning; Mission Creek and Mission Bay could act as a drain for industrial wastes; and the area's proximity to deep water offered easy shipping of raw materials and finished goods. However, the expansion of industries into the area was hampered by its sand hills and marshlands.
From 1852 to 1854 and from 1858 to 1873, San Francisco began to level its inconvenient sand hills along Market Street using David Hewe's “Steam Paddy” that combined a steam shovel with movable tramways for hauling the sand. The term “Steam Paddy” was a derogatory reference to the Irish workers who provided much of the non-mechanized earth-moving labor of the time. The removed sand was used to fill the nearby bogs and marshes of the South of Market area (and ultimately Mission Bay itself). Houses, tenements and factories quickly rose upon the newly created dry land.
During the 1860s, San Francisco grew steadily southward into the South of Market as the growing industry attracted laborers and their families, many of them Irish immigrants. The neighborhood's streets became a bustle of people, horse cars, carriages and the drays used for hauling materials to and from factories.