What was the craziest thing you ever saw on your way to class in college? For some University of San Francisco students in the early fifties, it was human skeletons.
The University sits atop what was once one of the city’s most prominent cemeteries, and in the school’s early days, students would occasionally find bones in the lawn en route to class. Before San Francisco banned the burial of bodies within city limits in 1900, four large cemeteries dominated Inner Richmond. The largest and most prominent of the four, Laurel Hill Cemetery, was a popular spot for picnicking families and old-fashioned courtship. Young couples would stroll amongst San Francisco’s most elite deceased, including inventor of the cable car Andrew Halladie.
In the 1930s and 40s, the bodies in these cemeteries were exhumed and transferred to Colma — a California city that now has more dead people (more than two million!) than living (1,500). In their place, a multimillion dollar residential area was erected, with dozens of homes and apartment buildings built directly atop gravesites.
Curious about other spots in the city where skeletons may be lurking? Dolores Park was once home to two large Jewish cemeteries, and Yerba Buena Cemetery was located just below what is now the Asian Art Museum. During construction of the museum in 2001, more than 15 skeletons were discovered just 13 feet below street level. Creepy.