In 1852 you would have been standing on a bluff overlooking the narrow
beach just below that followed the approximate line of King Street. First
accurately charted by the U.S. Coast Survey topographical engineers in
1852, the shoreline was named Steamboat Point after the boatyards
on the beach. All of the land that you can see on the bay side of King Street
is man-made, created by filling the bay. Massive timber cribbing was
built to hold large rocks, and thousands of cubic yards of the city's
sandhills and rubble were dumped on top. The construction of the seawall
beyond and beneath the foot of King Street and the Embarcadero in 1905
fixed the line of the present shoreline.
"Oh you saints look don on this new made town. And tell me, pray, which
way to go? Oh the shoreline's deranged, and everything's changed. Tell
me, Pray, which way to go?" -- South of Market Journal, 1926.
Submitted by @richpsharp via https://twitter.com/richpsharp/status/414190982515531778