SS City of New York

American transpacific ocean liner wrecked on Point Bonita. One of many ships to have been lost at San Francisco's Golden Gate.
by Matthew Anderson


Year Built

1875

Year Sank

1893

Depth

11 ft (3.4 m)

Difficulty Level

Advanced


SS City of New York

Wreck Location

The remains of the City of New York lie northwest of San Francisco on the rocks of Point Bonita in Marin County. Though the water is relatively shallow where she lies, diving the City of New York is extremely dangerous, given the strong currents, sharp rocks and breakers which destroyed the ship to begin with. The site of her wreck can be seen from the cliffs and lighthouse of Point Bonita by the general public. The lighthouse existed before the wreck, but surprisingly did little to prevent the sinking and further wrecks in the area.

~ GPS Shipwreck Location ~
Latitude:   37° 48' 59.7384" N      Longitude:   -122° 31' 48.9" W

Description

The City of New York was built in 1875 by the Delaware Iron Ship Building and Engine Works of John Roach and Sons in Chester, Pennsylvania for the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. She made her maiden voyage from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia via Fiji (at the time known as Kandavau) in 1876. The service was awarded a contract by the Australian government to the Pacific Mail Steamship Company the same year City of New York was built. Australia also gave Pacific Mail an operating subsidy on the route. At least two ships however, the Zealandia and Australia, were leased from the British and featured Chinese crews. The city of Aukland, New Zealand was added to the service. In 1885, Pacific Mail decided not to renew its contract and gave the service to the US based Oceanic Steamship Company and New Zealand based Union Steamship Company. City of New York was switched to Pacific Mail's San Francisco to Hong Kong, China and Yokohama, Japan route. which the company had held the US Government contract for since the 1850s.

On October 26, 1893, City of New York left San Francisco with 104 crewmembers and 133 passengers bound for Hong Kong and Yokohama. Captain F. H. Johnson was in command of the vessel. The ship became enveloped in thick fog at the Golden Gate. The ship stranded off course and ran aground off Point Bonita, apparently due to strong winds and dead reckoning through fog. Thankfully all aboard were rescued after observers and nearby vessels caught sight and sound of her distress cannons and distress flares. The ship could not be removed from the rocks by tugboats and was declared a total loss. Pacific Mail salvaged all usable and undamaged items including parts of the masts and the auxiliary sails. Gradually, City of New York capsized to port and was broken into pieces by the pounding surf. Today, all that remains of the City of New York are destroyed fragments of what used to be an iron hulled steamship on the rocks of Point Bonita.

Footnotes

The wreck of the City of New York could still be seen for more than 7 years after she went aground. The wreck was seen in 1901 by those aboard the Pacific Mail liner City of Rio de Janeiro before she too ran aground on the Golden Gate and sank in over 200 feet of water killing over 100 people. On the American Pacific coastline, the Golden Gate and Columbia Bar are known for historically being some of the most violent and dangerous waters to shipping.




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