Washington Packing Co, San Francisco


By Jonathan H

Canning Cathedral
Washington Packing Corp’s ground level shipping & receiving area; the location is now occupied by an auto wrecking yard, though the building is welded shut in most places

Washington Packing Satellite ImageOften a photographer’s work will blow you away, and you’ll immediately want to know where he or she?took the photo. Some photographers guard their locations with tenacity, but others are willing to give you a few hints.

Loupiote was generous in helping me locate Washington Packing Corp. in San Francisco, an abandoned Tuna Cannery that shuttered due to a nation-wide botulism pandemic, which?killed two women in 1963.

Says Time Magazine: “After months of watching its sales dive because of the botulism scare, the tuna industry is now convinced that it has reinstated tuna as the housewives’ steady standby.” And later in the article: “No one has ever revealed where Washington Packing’s processing went wrong. But the plant remains shut, and though only a few cans were ever infected with botulism, all of Washington Packing’s stock was confiscated by the Government and summarily buried?in a well-publicized move?beneath ten tons of garbage in a dump next to San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.”


I went to Washinton Packing, and it was probably the most beautiful factory environment I’ve encountered. The Bay Area has had many such grand structures in its time, but thanks to Dot-Com redevelopment, gentrification, and stringent earthquake codes, some of our most beautiful structures are going to the wrecking ball.?

In later entries, I will discuss some common elements of the built environment, and why things were built the way they were back then.

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