Wonky Wednesday: The History Behind Battle for the Bay – 1960’s

SF Bay's Villain of the 1960s: Santa Fe Railroad Company

If you have already played Save The Bay’s new online quiz, Battle for the Bay, you know that the game is centered around the past 50 years of threats to San Francisco Bay – key campaigns that Bay Area residents have fought and, for the most part, won, to protect our beautiful Bay from being turned into a river, as the Army Corps of Engineers predicted in 1959.

However, if you were born after 1980 – or even if you were born earlier – much of this story, the story of our Bay, may be new to you. To catch you up to speed, we’ll be posting a blog series about the Bay ‘villains’ featured in the game. This week, we begin with the project that prompted Save The Bay’s founding:

1960’s – Santa Fe Railroad Company

A notorious railroad magnate of the 1880’s, Sante Fe bought up thousands of acres of the SF Bay floor when the state was selling it for as cheap as $1 an acre. In the early 1960’s, they proposed a massive 2,000 acre bay-fill development off the shoreline of Berkeley (map). Their grandiose development plans included a new airport, industrial and commercial buildings, houses, hotels, and more. If approved, the project would have doubled the size of Berkeley. Save The Bay’s first campaign was to defeat this proposal, saving the Berkeley shoreline – which the community was successful at in 1963.

In the early 1960s, Save The Bay's founders prevented bay fill in Berkeley.

Have YOU played Battle for the Bay? Click here to play!