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San Francisco, California

The Lost Cemetery of Lands End

A evening of tombstone hunting and history at the former City Cemetery

Beneath the manicured putting greens and fairways of the Lincoln Park Golf Course, beneath the stately pillars and majestic art of the Legion of Honor, lie perhaps thousands of bodies. In the early 1900s, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors ordered the City Cemetery (also known as Golden Gate Cemetery) to be moved, the estimated 18,000 corpses exhumed and reburied in Colma.

Except, just like an overused horror movie trope, it seems that didn't quite happen. The tombstones were moved but apparently not all the bodies. In 1993, the Legion of Honor museum began a renovation and expansion, and literally dug up hundreds of bodies that were never relocated. Archaeologists did a limited survey and determined it was the remnants of a pauper's cemetery, filled with the poor, the elderly, dockworkers, Chinese immigrants, and even cadavers from medical schools. It's unknown how many graves remain underneath Lincoln Park, but the number is suspected to be quite large.

The delightful John Martini, historical consultant and former National Park Ranger, will lead us on a stroll through Lincoln Park, visiting and discussing the few surviving grave markers, sharing historical images, and regaling us with the history of this cemetery and San Francisco's changing relationship with the dead.

Notes for this adventure:

  • This is an evening tour that will end just around dark.
  • It consists of a non-strenuous ¾ mile walk.
  • It can get pretty cold, foggy, and blustery at Lincoln Park. Dress according to the weather forecast.
  • We meet at the corner of 34th Ave. & Clement St.

Questions? Email Bart Bernhardt at bart.bernhardt@atlasobscura.com.

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