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mysterious Mission circle

topic posted Thu, February 10, 2005 - 8:45 PM by  Unsubscribed
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I've lived in the Mission for some 15 years and I've always wondered about a ring of bricks at the intersection of 22nd & Shotwell, near the Polish Hall. The bricks are laid side to side to form a large circle, the diameter of which is about the same as the width of the intersection. The ring is a little off center from the intersection, too.

Any ideas? Every time I walk past it I wonder what it might have been used for. A cable car turnaround? A roundabout?
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  • Re: mysterious Mission circle

    Thu, February 10, 2005 - 10:38 PM
    If you look around, you'll find those all over town. they're water cisterns for fighting fires in case of problems like the ones that left the City with no water during the '06 earthquake.

    I can think of 3 or 4 of them just off the top of my head, like the one at 14th and Castro and one at first and Mission, but there are dozens all over town. If you look roughly in the middle of the circle, you'll see an odd looking manhole that seems out of place.
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      Re: mysterious Mission circle

      Sun, February 13, 2005 - 11:38 AM
      I was told that the brick circles were remnants of old cable car turnarounds. Not that I am disagreeing with Mongo - but I wonder if some circles are signs of cisterns and some cable car turnarounds. Or is the cable car turnaround theory just nonsense?
      • Re: mysterious Mission circle

        Sun, February 13, 2005 - 8:51 PM
        Nope on the cable car turnarounds. They're for cisterns. In fact, if you look very carefully at the personhole covers in the middle of each brick circle, you'll see "cistern" imprinted on each cover.

        These cisterns have automatic float devices to keep the water level at a peak level at all times. However, the cisterns do tend to get *really* grungy from algae and whatnot; good for pumping for fires, but not good to drink.

        I believe the cistern concept was that no building was to be more than 1/4 mile away from a cistern. Of course, SF has grown since then, so this doesn't apply today.
      • Re: mysterious Mission circle

        Sun, February 13, 2005 - 10:32 PM
        There were cable cars down Mission in the early days before the streetcars took over (cable cars were sloooow even on flat land), but any switches or turnarounds would have been gone when they completely rebuilt the street w/ BART underground.
  • Re: mysterious Mission circle

    Thu, February 10, 2005 - 11:21 PM
    They're SF's equivalent of crop circles. If you should excavate any of these you'll hit water within a few feet. I believe aliens built them. At least I think they were aliens. They might have been citizens, though. It's so hard to tell these days.

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