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tv   Second Look  FOX  May 31, 2015 11:00pm-11:31pm PDT

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from this stretch of the san francisco waterfront came the ships that were in two world wars and the steam ships that crossed the golden gate. the bethlehem shipyard was one of the largest shipyards in the country and helped build sections of the transbay tube for b.a.r.t. and bethlehem iron workers also risked their lives to build the golden gate bridge. >> they paid us in gold every week, they figured we wouldn't go out there. >> reporter: a look at the past of san francisco's shipyard and
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what the future may hold. hello everyone i'm frank somerville and welcome to a second look. this evening we take a look at pier 70. the longest continuously operating shipyard any where in the country. but now, much of that land is slated for redevelopment. pier 70 sits on san francisco's eastern waterfront. the 65-acre site has fallen into disrepair although one portion remains a working shipyard. how are it was once the largest shipbuilding operation any where on the west coast. since the gold rush. ships have been built in the waters near potrero hill. working conditions were tough and in 1917 workers at the shipyard went on strike. their demands, a pay raise and eight hour workday. thousands of men once walked through the bay every day, but now only a small work force remains doing repairs. san francisco plans to develop portions for parks and offices.
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ken wayne took a look at the history and the possible future of san francisco's former shipyards. >> it's the kind of place postindustrial art lovers might find picture picturesque but not the type of place people are allowed to visit. six years ago a dry dock broke lose during a storm and drifted across the bay until it slammed into yerba buena island. just a few weeks ago a worker was killed during the demolition of an old power plant. today's san francisco waterfront between mission bay and hunters point is a gray gusted ghost of a once proud sea port. >> teaming area of piers and wars, there was a sugar refinery. there were metal shops. steam freighters. >> reporter: from the gold rush leading up to the second world
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war i san francisco was a real working port. >> ships coming and going all the time. and all the associated business activity and port activity right there along those wars. >> reporter: by world war ii, los angeles was overtaking san francisco as the biggest city in the west. and cargo ships passed san francisco to dock in oakland. san francisco's port activity faded. >> 20 years ago this was more or less a waste land. >> reporter: jonie robins is now seeing a rebirth around the bay. new condos are now open across third street and high rises seem to be growing out of old industrial lots everywhere. >> i think it's very exciting to see you know the development move down south. little restaurants are cropping up, shots, it's very exciting. >> reporter: the port of san
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francisco is making changes. there's designs of how the area will look. this design features parks with access to the waters. industry, housing and retail together. >> just as geared l.a. square at one time pretty much a derelict building, this whole area could be revitalized vitalized. >> reporter: isn't that what you guys want. >> that dry dock is very secure after that incident in 2002. we made doubly sure it was secure and it has not moved since. >> reporter: change doesn't happen quickly in the bay area and there's been talk of changing this long neglected part of san francisco for years. but you can now actually witness the evolution of the waterfront. and port officials say you'll see the biggest changes in five or 10 years. in 1992, bob mackenzie gave
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us this snapshot of the new remaining ship workers at pier 70. >> at southwest marine in san francisco and a shipyard that once built mighty ships, welders and ship fitters. labor and some materials are cheaper. even repair and maintenance work is increasingly going outside of the united states. shipyard workers are very conscious they're part of a shrinking industry. southwest marine employs 500 to 600 people when business is good. but this yard was once the mighty union iron works. where 500 to 600 people at a time built ships. president bush's state in a free market economy has not endeared him to ship executives
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that think the u.s. should send work to china. >> what do you think should be done about jobs? >> i think they should, they shouldn't take the jobs overseas. they should keep it here in the united states. >> reporter: thousands of people used to come through these gates every morning on their way to work. will that ever happen again? that probably depends on what america decides to do about its basic industries. still to come on a second look. celebrating the launch of 1898 of a new japanese navy cruiser from pier 70. the moment caught on film by the edison company. and how the transbay tube was built at pier 70 despite an early construction disaster. >> the first tube i will never forget it. sunk.
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take a look at this, it's a look back in time to san francisco in 1898. a newly built ship launching on
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january 22nd of this year. the navy cruiser shitosa was built at the union iron works on pier 70. bands played and people came out in small boats to cheer on the ship on its major voyage. but the ships ending was a far less voyage. ships weren't the only things built on pier 70. this is a section of the transbay two. the b.a.r.t. tube connects san francisco to oakland and sits on the floor of the bay. as john fowler reported in 1997. the pieces of the tube was launched from the bethlehem shipyards and at first the result was a disaster. >> reporter: in san francisco, water and mud 100 feet below the financial district made this one of the most difficult tunneling projects in history. described as the greatest est
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array of engineering talent but the crown was this. they built 57 binocular shaped sections and launchedded them by ships at&t bethlehem yards at hunter's point. >> the first tube i will never forget it sunk. >> reporter: aaron litner was a worker then. he says someone left the hatches on that first tube and it went straight to the bottom. >> it cost them $1 million to raise that tube. that was something. >> reporter: more careful after that. the contractors used special barges to position the tubes in the bay. engineers sunk them with unheard of .1 of an inch position. once the sections were joined under water, channel 2 cameras went down for a tour.
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>> it's designed to withstand the effects of an earthquake of the magnitude of the 1902 earthquake and will be at its deepest portion approximately 135 feet beneath the surface of the water. >> it made a tremendous noise. the first thing i thought of was earthquake. >> reporter: mel lloyd today still can't forget a scare. today boyd says the transbay tube is the most solid segment of b.a.r.t. >> me personally, i would feel safer in a tube than any where in the bay area. >> during an earthquake. >> yes. >> but back in the late 60s, confidence on b.a.r.t. was shaky. communities wanted changes in the system. 15miles of track and 15 stations had to be relocated. facilities redesigned. inflations zapped reserves and
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put it over budget by $150 million. b.a.r.t. cars were even controversial. wheels set 9-inches wider to handle speeds and winds on the golden gate bridge yet the design escalated cost and complexity. a look at the courageous men who worked in death defying heights. and the revolution in cargo shipping and also spelled trouble for san francisco piers.
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♪ (music throughout) ♪ sfx: (smash)
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sfx: (roar) ♪ sfx: (roar) sfx: (engine roars) welcome back to a second look. bob mackenzie spoke to iron workers who put their lives on the line to build that bridge. >> already storage yards in alameda were filling up with steel sections shiped in by rail from pittsburgh where a steel mill was operating at full capacity. the steel arrived by barge
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where iron workers began hoisting the sections into place. this was precarious work as the barges would roll and turn in 6- inch swells and the steel sections would swing ominously on the hoist. but iron workers were the commandos of the building trades. ignoring danger was part of the job and also part of their style. >> we would show up to gain the guys respect. i didn't know them from nothing, they didn't know me. i had to trust my life. i had to show him what i could do and he showed me what he could do. i had to have confidence in the men. >> so you mean you had to go out and risk your life a little bit. >> every day, every minute. you had to be in a hurry all the time there. you can't fool around. you had to hurry, otherwise like i said there's 150 men waiting for you to fall off or quit. they would stay there all day. >> waiting to get your job.
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>> yeah, mine or somebody elseless. >> slowly the tower rose. actually a pair of towers held together by cross braces. the tower was cellular like a beehive made up of hundreds of steel cells. so far everything had gone according to plan. but this was the easy side of the bridge. at the south end the tower pier would have to be built in 100 feet. the construction trestle at old fort scott was itself a considerable feat of engineering but it would have bad luck. first the trestle would be wrecked. the trestle would be reconstructed and the work would go on. in the spring of 1995 the twin towers faced each other across the gap. now the really dangerous work would begin. to string a cable across a span 3,000 feet wide could be done in theory. but no one had ever done it in
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practice. it began as a .1 wire rope was made fast. a barge crossed the gate playing out 5,000 feet more of the rope which was connected to the san francisco side. derreks at the top of the tower dropped lines and connected it hoisting up. this was the first strand of a support cable. one that would support one of're side. working on foot bridges and cat walks, swaying in the winds sometimes in freezing weather. iron workers would spin the two great cables that would eventually reach a yard across and comprise thousands of strands totaling thousands of miles in length. the wires were under extreme tension. if one broke it would fly through the air like a bull
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whip and could easily take off a man's head. that never happened but the thought that it could caused some men to wake up drinking in the morning. >> we had a few days to think over whether we wanted to go back or not. they paid us in full every week, they thought maybe we wouldn't want to go back there. >> tough, hard drinking, fearless men who walked narrow beams in high wind who risked their life for $25 a week. it's been said that men died for the bridge. that's putting it a little dramatically. nobody gave their life for the bridge. but in a job so difficult as this, there had to be some accidents. >> and he slipped and he
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couldn't hang on. he killed himself. >> he just fell off. >> no he didn't fall off, his hands were gone you might say. the grease, he couldn't act as a brake. his gloves were not that good. the scale would come off of it. when it was red hot, your whole belly was burned. that was very common. because you got it bumped all the way to the chins trying to get rid of the hot stuff you know. >> when the two cables had been completed. 254 bands were clamped around then as the suspender cables on. then if barges would come again. the post, cross beams and trestles that would stretch. a huge safety net was strung under it. 19 men would fall into it and be saved. >> when i fell in the net it was so quick and sudden and
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unexpected. of course it impressed me because i think when i fell i don't know, what i hit i didn't know where the hell i was. i was too scared to move. i just stood there. and i was with my buddy. he kept telling me, you can make it. you can make it. finally, i crawled out. and i was shaking all over. i was really shaking. >> most everybody had it thought of, they would jump, stay clear, take their chances on the free fall. they were all pretty sharp. >> you're talking about guys who risked their lives every day. what kind of a guy does that take? >> he don't worry about that part of it. he's got a job to do out here and he does it. and if he worries about it i don't think he would be the right guy for the job. >> martin adams was working on the bridge the day 10 men died. 10 minutes after he had rolled off of a rolling scaffold. that scaffold broke the net
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below and carrying men with it scream ing as they fell. >> it tore the net down from the center of the bridge the net is joined at the center. one coming from the san francisco tower and one to the marin tower. and that net was tearing down and rolling down. but the scaffold weighed so much that i didn't see a lot just a big splash. and then i kind of raised up and looked, two men were hanging with their fingers on the flange of the steel swinging. i one of them i know i was supposed to stow him because he said for god sake get a rope. we could hear them hollering in the water that they went down. they got two out alive. there were no boats in the immediate area right then. finally one of the little crab boats come by and picked up these two fellows. and one of the fellows, a foreman name was lambert he brought a dead man out with him. the fellow was dead but he
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brought him out with him. >> the net was repaired and the work went on. >> so the span progresses. moving out, truss by truss in both directions. a new construction project at pier 70 and the big reason why cargo ships left the san francisco waterfront.
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welcome back to a second look, there are plans to build a whole new neighborhood on parcels. they decided to raise the land to 90 feet. but much of that land is just a few feet above sea level. much of pier 70 is between five
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and 10 feet in elevation. that's concerning because san francisco city officials say the bay is likely to rise by 3 feet over the next 85 years. the red in these maps indicate the projected amounts of flooding san francisco piers could see in the coming decades. >> it's real, it's now. it's here it's not something that will occur 100 years from now. >> it gets a little warmer and you go. okay it's okay. but when you see what happens in 100 years you go, oh my god. we have to change what we're doing. >> the company that hopes to develop the land has acknowledged the sea level rise prediction and have told regulators they plan to raise the levels of the land by a bit less than 2-1/2 feet. cargo ship was once a mainstay. but the container shipping box changed all of that. in 1959 the matson line unveiled the first dock side container crane in alameda. and it was the start of a revolution that would transform the port of oakland into one of
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the busiest most successful ports in the world. it would also hasten the san francisco container ships business. >> reporter: what the ports of san francisco and oakland did have one thing in common for the better part of 100 years, they only handled crate cargo. >> the cargo was broken down into smaller pieces like crates and bags and cans and rolls of paper. that's called break bulk. because when you break the bulk to smaller pieces that longshoreman could take them on and off the boat. >> reporter: it would take the longshoremen up to three weeks to turn it around, unload and reload the ship. with containerrization you could do it in less than a day.
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so why did oakland and not san francisco break from the change over from bulk to container shipment. oakland had it and san francisco didn't. i'm talking about the wide open spaces. >> container shipping requires large areas almost like parking lots. and break bulk terminals need to have roofs on them because the cargo is not protected from the weather. containers can go just about any where. >> but before the age of containers, oakland was waiting around still playing second fiddle to san francisco. even though the east bay port had everything going for it. it was determined for three transcontinental rail ways and access to the heart land highways across the country and in 1927 the port of oakland even controlled one of the earliest state of the art airports everywhere the oakland airport. it was about this time that the seeds of oakland maritim,
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descendent were a boom. >> the shipping reached a crescendo. and a lot of the shipment was sent to oakland because oakland could handle it. >> not quite up to san francisco standards. oakland was getting ready for containers while san francisco would remain the dominant port in the pacific port up until the late 1950s. would soon subcomb to oakland and capacity for containers. oakland would be the ports to slip into the new mainstream of shipping and take over the maritime leadership in the area. to the fifth largest port in the united states. the port of oakland has
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transformed itself. the maritime moth into the butterfly of shipping. that's it for this week's second look. i'm frank somerville, we'll see you again next week.
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okay, here's the number for poison control. ask for carol. honey, we're gonna be fine. enjoy your reunion. oh, it'd be a lot more fun if you were there. i really am sorry about that. i just can't miss the chance to bowl on jay's team. mnh. that's why i ordered these glide rights. if you break 'em in properly they're supposed to give you a completely frictionless-- (thud) (groans) if i'm being honest, the reunion might be a little more fun if phil isn't there. otherwise, i spend the whole weekend telling him who's who and explaining inside jokes. and if all that explaining is going out, the alcohol is not going in. hey, mom. before you go, you have to sign this for school. mm. you don't have to read it. it's all boilerplate. honey, i am running really late. (whispers) ask your dad. right here, buddy. s--uhh! (thud) i have to get the letter signed because i failed my assignment on the revolutionary war. i recreated the battle of bunker hill using one of my old science projects.

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