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From whaling to Liberty Ships, the Matthew Turner tall ship to America's Cup vessels, the Marinship has been a working waterfront for more than 150 years.


In 1849, one of Richardson's guests, Lt. James McCormick, backed his Navy steam-powered vessel, the Edith, stern in first on to a cove along Sausalito's waterfront at high tide.  When the tide went out, the prop and driveshaft were exposed for repair.  From that day forward Sausalito has had an active working waterfront.


In 1942, W.A. Bechtel Co. and the United States Maritime Commission created Marinship by destroying the 35 homes in the Pine Hill neighborhood with dynamite and bulldozing the hill to fill Richardson’s Bay.  Not only was a Sausalito neighborhood sacrificed for this temporary shipyard, but the 24/7 schedule of this effort led to the death of workers in industrial accidents during the construction of the Liberty Ships and Tankers.  To the residents of Sausalito, and the nation, Marinship is hallowed ground.   A total of 93 ships were built in 3 1/2 years. Including setting a world record with the SS Huntington Hill, constructed and delivered in 33 days.


In a related effort, Marin City was created to house 6000 workers.  The Marinship Shipyards was the site of incidents that provided a key early milestone in the civil rights movement.  In 1944 in the case of James v. Marinship the California Supreme Court held that African Americans could not be excluded from jobs based on their race, even if the employer took no discriminatory actions. In the case of Joseph James, on whose behalf the suit was brought, the local Boilermakers Union excluded Blacks from membership and had a "closed shop" contract, forbidding the shipbuilder from employing anyone who was not a member of the union. African American workers could join an auxiliary of the union, which offered access to fewer jobs at lower pay. Future US Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall successfully argued the case, winning a ruling that the union be required to offer equal membership to African Americans. The Court extended the ruling to apply explicitly to all unions and all workers in California.


In 1891 Matthew Turner built the Galilee, a brigantine tall ship.  After many lives as a trans-Pacific cargo ship, a magnetic observatory, and a fishing vessel, the Galilee came to rest on the shores of Sausalito in 1968.  Here city officials ponder what the next course of action.

Without an appreciation of the historical significance of, she was parted-out.  Her bow is in the Maritime Museum in San Francisco.  Her stern is in the Benicia Historical Museum.  What remains, including her intact rudder lies buried in the mud next to her namesake, Galilee Harbor.

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After the war, Sausalito’s waterfront reverted to what it had been, a maritime community of boatbuilders, and light industry.  Eventually, in the 1960s Sausalito’s waterfront became a draw to a local group of artists, writers, poets, and artisans.  Don Arques owned most of the property in northern Marinship.  It was through his generosity that the artist and musicians and craftsmen were allowed to live in boats on his property at little or no cost.  He is considered the father of the cultural legacy of maritime craftsmen, artists, and artisans which has evolved into a community of Dreamers, Doers, Makers, Artists, and Artisans. 

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