Niantic in situ
The Niantic Uncovered...

In 1978 the lot at the northwest corner of Clay and Sansome was excavated in order to put up a skyscraper. Guess what they found in the hole?

What you're looking at is the "bones" of the Niantic. If you went to see the gold rush sesquicentennial historic display Gold Fever! at the Oakland Museum, at the Autry Museum of Western Culture in Los Angeles or at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium you have seen a large "chunk" of the re-assembled and restored former whaler, once embedded here at Sansome and Clay.

This is what it looked like in 1978 when it was still resting in (in James Ayers' words) "the berth she was destined to occupy." This photo is thanks to Ann Howard who, in 1978, talked someone into letting her go onto the roof of a building across the street. The trees at the top of the picture are California redwoods in the Transamerica Park at the eastern base of their pyramid-shaped building, a major landmark on the San Francisco skyline.

A couple of gold rush-era saloon keepers named Theodore A. Barry and B. A. Patten wrote a book in 1873 for San Francisco's A. L. Bancroft & Company entitled Men and Memories of San Francisco in the Spring of '50. Barry and Patten included a chapter in this book ("Chapter XIII") about a discovery of the ruins during construction on the site in the early 1870s and how nostalgic it made them feel toward the '50s, etc., etc."

"At the (mud line) after the conflagration, the debris was cleared away and the floor timbers of the hotel laid, covering and keeping safe from public knowledge, stowed away in the remnant of the old hull, thirty-five baskets of champagne and many other articles on storage... the wine was the Jacquesson Fils brand - a superior wine, very popular in California, where dry wines are always preferred. This long buried wine was found... in remarkable preservation... champagne deteriorates after the third year; but this wine... effervesced slightly on uncorking and was of very fair flavor."
In 1978: here's what else was discovered...

Photo, copyright © 1998-2005