Candlestick Point, California

It was a gloomy day, I said that because the clouds were dark and an impending rain was coming to the area. Deelow, Ollie and I with the dogs Corvo and Yusuf drove to Dublin and pick Ta Vans. (We didn’t bring the other two dogs because they don’t go well with huge crowds.)  We planned on going to Candlestick Point State Recreation Area for the dogs than to Chinatown (like every year at this time.)

We drove via 580 all the way to I-80 and south to Candlestick Point, and passed by the former site of the Candlestick Arena. It was now abandoned and fenced with abandoned cars around the area. I took some pictures and was kind of disappointed that I came in too late even so here is the history of Candlestick Park.

Candlestick Park

With a legendary history that includes five Super Bowl Champion teams and Hall of Fame players including Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young; Candlestick Park was the home to some of the greatest teams in NFL history.  Originally built for the San Francisco Giants (MLB), Candlestick Park was the home of the 49ers for over four decades.

Candlestick Park today

Talk of building a stadium in the San Francisco area began in 1954, when mayor George Christopher promised to build a stadium if a major league team would move to the area. Later in the year, a $5 million bond was issued to build a new stadium. Along with the Brooklyn Dodgers (MLB), the New York Giants (MLB) decided to move to the west coast after the 1957 season. The Giants moved to San Francisco, while the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles.

Two locations for a new stadium in San Francisco were discussed. One in downtown, and one at Candlestick Point. The site at Candlestick Point, located near the San Francisco Bay, was chosen because of its lower price and affordability. Construction of the stadium began in August 1958. However, immediately after construction began, several problems arose. Neighbors complained about numerous things, grand juries investigated irregular funding in the stadium, seat installation was delayed because of a teamster strike, and the stadium was called a “fire trap.” Nevertheless, the stadium was completed. The stadium was named Candlestick Park, after its location.

The Giants played the first game ever at Candlestick Park on April 20, 1961. In September 2004, Candlestick Park was renamed Monster Park, after Monster Cable Products Inc. purchased the naming rights for four years. The stadium’s named reverted back to Candlestick Park in March 2008 after the stadium naming rights deal with Monster Cable Products expired. A city ballot measure restricted the team from pursuing the highest bidder for the right to name the stadium.

Candlestick in 1960

When it first opened, Candlestick Park had around 45,000 seats. While the Giants were playing at Candlestick Park, the 49ers were playing at Kezar Stadium. The 49ers had played at Kezar Stadium since 1946. After only several years of existence, Candlestick Park began to deteriorate. At one point, the mayor of San Francisco proposed that a new $50 million stadium be built in the downtown area, but his idea was dropped. After the city decided to spend $16.1 million in 1971 towards improving and making the stadium more multipurpose, the San Francisco 49ers (NFL) decided to move there.

Candlestick Park was enclosed, increasing the seating capacity to 61,000. Retractable seats were added in right field to allow the conversion to a football field, and the grass field was replaced by Astroturf. The 49ers played their first game at Candlestick Park on October 10, 1971. Very few changes have taken place since 1971 at Candlestick Park.

Candlestick Park

In 1979, the Astroturf was replaced by grass. In 1995, Candlestick Park was renamed 3 Com Park after 3 Com Corp. bought the naming rights. After the 1999 MLB season, the San Francisco Giants moved into AT&T Park, leaving the 49ers as Candlestick Park’s primary tenant. The 2013 season marked the 49ers last year at Candlestick Park before they moved into their new stadium, Levi’s Stadium, in Santa Clara in 2014. The 49ers played their last game at Candlestick Park on December 23, 2013 against the Atlanta Falcons. The stadium was demolished in Winter 2015 and the site will be used for a mall and residential/office complex.”

So that is the brief life of the stadium which was now an empty lot awaiting for reconstruction. We turned right reaching the entrance booth. As we drove to the entrance here is the start of the name of the area because there are several stories about its origins.

“The name Candlestick Point dates back to the 1800s, when a U.S. Coast Guard survey gave the designation to a rock outcropping that resembled a candlestick. Several sources claim it was named for Candlestick Rock, an 8-foot (2.4 m)-tall pinnacle rock once located nearby at the high-tide line.

Burning of ships

Others claim it was named for the long-billed curlew, which was once plentiful in the area and also known as the candlestick bird.

A somewhat more colorful local fable tells of the burning of abandoned sailing ships during the 19th century and the flaming masts that resembled lighted candlesticks as they sank into the bay.” 

So those were the legends and we went through the booth or entrance without paying a fee because it was close and there is no self-registration envelope. The area looked dangerous because of the grill doors and windows of the booth. We drove around the parking lot and there are some vehicles parked around. There were some shady people hanging around near the end of the parking so we turned around and park by the middle.

We took the dogs and I took vids and pictures while Deelow holds Corvo and Ta Vans to Yusuf, and Ollie followed around. We passed by trails which have workout stations which reminded me of the ones in Korea. We continue walking along the shores to the fishing pier where there were some people fishing as they fish it reminds me of the older people who treated this place as their hunting sites.

“This region is the ancestral homeland of the Yelamu Ohlone people. In the past, Ohlone people lived along nearby marshlands where they used tule boats to harvest and gather plants and animals and shared a complex worldview expressed through story, song, dance, and ritual. Today, though the shoreline may have changed, Ohlone descendants continue to connect to this place through practice and tradition.”

We have reached Sunrise Point and turned around to the other side walking along the trail to Mudflats, which was a small beach area of the park. There were placards with information about the park from its natural history and human history and species in the area.

It was very cold and in between, there were rain showers few enough that we didn’t get that wet. We walked and take pictures. There were other dog owners who let their dogs run around without leash while on the other side of the park were some folks cooking something in their boiling pot. As we get closer to the industrial part of the point here is the history of how it began.

At the beginning of World War II, the United States Navy filled in tidelands to create Hunters Point Shipyard during WWII. After the war, a nuclear research facility provided jobs until 1974 when it closed.

the shipyard and its workers

As the economy faltered, the community struggled to adapt. Most residents chose to stay. the Bayview- Hunters Point neighborhood experienced major demographic change from predominantly Italian to African-American families, and other ethnic groups later on. Urban growth and economic shifts continued to adversely impact both the shoreline and the community.”

We turned around again, when we reached Jackrabbit area and saw some ruins of the old foundations of the buildings which were used to reclaim the land and preserve it. We walked back to the parking lot as we head on here is the rest of its history.

Beginning the 1970s residents began cleaning up the environment, restoring natural habitats, and strengthening community spirit. With continuing urban development, the face of Bayview tomorrow will be different from what it is today. Part of this landfill on which the park sits is a cultural resource that demonstrates the effect of major land changes in ecologically sensitive areas. 

Candlestick Point in the 50s with the Park in the background

In response to climate change, California State Parks is creating open space to preserve biodiversity, developing habitat corridors to connect protected natural areas, managing water use, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

As we let the dogs drink and packed up we came to realize how people enjoy this first Urban State Park. People of different ages and backgrounds can benefit from this community effort.  A needed open space in this small, crowded city.

Here are the links for more information:

Click to access CandlestickPt.pdf

Say Cheez!

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