“All things considered, I am a most fortunate person, and I know it.” ~ Marcella Christensen
As we were making our way up the coast to Wayfarer’s Chapel we stopped in San Pedro near Point Fermin. The road came to a dead end at this bluff. There was a skate park to the left, and to the right, behind a tall steel-bar fence, was this cross. I looked at the disjointed rolls of land and finally realized it used to be a road. No doubt it had houses joined to it one side at least.
We couldn’t get to the rubble from where we were – the incline too dangerous – but clearly others could. Some time later I looked at the area with Google’s satellite view and it’s obvious where the street and its houses slipped into the Pacific. I did some digging and found that locals call this “Sunken City.” The land started sliding in 1929, as much as 11″ a day at times, until the road, streetcar tracks, and two houses slid into the ocean (they actually managed to relocate most of the houses before the collapse). Even parts of Point Fermin Park slid down the cliff. It seems there’s been no small amount of controversy providing pubic access to the area, but by all accounts when we were there, the public has access.
Homes on the other side of the skate park are poised to drop off the cliff with the next strong storm, earthquake, or the soil begins to shift like it did in 1929. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in such a situation. Talk about being grateful for every day! I mean, sure, anything can happen to any one of us at any moment no matter where we are, but imagine living in a house that’s on shifting soil, where your neighbors already sank a hundred feet, and your back deck juts out over land enough to give shade to a small family of mountain goats. It is at once amazing, beautiful, glorious, and terrifying. My hat is off to those folks, and I hope they never find themselves slipping over the edge. Meanwhile, I’m eternally grateful to be on solid ground (well, as solid as it can be, all things considered).