A brief history of a hole in the ground and a tower

Embarcadero Tower in downtown San Francisco

I was in San Francisco on Earth Day and looked up to see one of the Embarcadero buildings towering above. A massive concrete monolith housing thousands of office workers going about their business of making money, changing the world, or just perhaps saving the world.

I wonder how many of them know that this building left a massive hole in the Earth just a few miles south in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains?

I stood above that hole last year and marveled at man’s ability to reshape the world — in this case quite literally. The “glory hole” was mined out by the late 1960s, but it and adjacent quarries provided the limestone to build the Embarcadero, Candlestick Park and many other landmarks. The high quality limestone was mined for more than one hundred years — finally drawing to a close as the economy crashed a few years ago.

The Glory Hole limestone quarry at the heart of the CEMEX property

Today, the quarry is at the heart of the CEMEX conservation project — a collaborative effort of five conservation groups working in and around Silicon Valley to protect natural places, working lands, and our way of life. In 100 years, the quarry pit will be there still but I hope that the project will stand as testament to how we can reshape the world and restore the damage wrought over the last century.

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