The Evolution of San Francisco’s Waterfront
The Embarcadero Seawall is over 100 years old – it’s older than the Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower. The Seawall was designed and constructed before engineers understood how to build infrastructure to survive earthquakes. Most of the Seawall is built over what is called “young bay mud,” a weak, saturated, and highly compressible marine clay that tends to amplify earthquake shaking. The Seawall has aged and settled and no longer offers the same level of ﬂood protection.
Threats to the Embarcadero Seawall – and to San Francisco
San Francisco is vulnerable to immediate seismic risks and emerging ﬂood risks.
A damaging earthquake could happen at any time, and there is scientiﬁc consensus that a major earthquake is likely to occur in the Bay Area within the next 25 years. A major earthquake could cause most of the Embarcadero Seawall to settle and move toward the Bay. This would prove devastating to life, utility and transportation infrastructure, property, and the San Francisco economy.
Sea level rise is also a major threat. Today, King Tides ﬂood the Embarcadero Promenade. As sea levels continue to rise, there will be additional ﬂooding risks, including to the BART and Muni networks and key utility infrastructure.
About the Seawall Earthquake Safety Program
The Port of San Francisco is leading the Seawall Earthquake Safety Program, a citywide effort to strengthen the Embarcadero Seawall and create a more sustainable and resilient waterfront.
- Act quickly
- Reduce earthquake damage
- Improve flood resilience
- Engage the community
- Enhance the City and the Bay
- Preserve historic resources
Seawall Messenger Videos
- Port Executive Director Elaine Forbes
- San Francisco City Administrator Naomi Kelly
- Port Commission President Kimberly Brandon
- Port Commissioner Doreen Woo Ho
- President of the Commission of the Environment, Elmy Bermejo
- Youth Commissioner Arianna Nassiri
- Ritual Coffee Roasters Owner and Founder Eileen Rinaldi
- Senior VP of the San Francisco Giants Fran Weld
Seawall Brochure + Inserts
- Seawall Program Brochure
- The Seawall and Sea Level Rise Insert
- The Seawall and Earthquakes Insert
- Seawall Program Framework Insert
- The Port and Sea Level Rise Insert
Embarcadero Seawall Document Library
- Seawall Earthquake Safety Bond Report
- Seawall Program Community Presentation
- Seawall Program Newsletters
- Seawall Community Meeting Materials
Seawall and Relevant Studies
- Port Sea Level Rise and Adaptation Study – June 2012
- Port Sea Level Rise Inundation Mapping – March 2016
- Seawall Earthquake Vulnerability Study – July 2016
- US Army Corps of Engineers CAP 103 Federal Interest Determination – Nov 2016
- Seawall Economic Value At-Risk – May 2017
- CCSF Capital Planning Committee, Funding Strategies for the Seawall – July 2017
- City and County of San Francisco Sea Level Rise Guidance
- US Army Corps of Engineers SF Waterfront Seawall CAP, 103
Seawall Program Updates
- The Seawall engineering team will be collecting soil samples through the end of the year to investigate the conditions underlying the Embarcadero. This will help us better understand seismic vulnerabilities and advance solutions for strengthening the Seawall. Learn more about the geotech exploration here.