the presidio landmark when it was the abandoned PHSH hospital (san francisco) - 5 photos

The Presidio Landmark Apartments, formerly known as the Public Health Service Hospital (PHSH) - Presidio, San Francisco, CA

For the PHSH Demolition photos, go to the PHSH Demolition gallery.

Photos by Tristan Savatier

The abandoned Public Health Service Hospital (PHSH) is located in the Presidio of San Francisco, at the north end of 15th av (see aerial photo, historical map, google-map, google earth Placemark, and bird's eye view). Built in 1931 on the site of the old U.S. Marine Hospital (1875), the 480-bed hospital, also known as building 1801, closed in 1981.

From 1981 to 1988 the hospital was used by the Defense Language Institute (DLI), except for the 6th floor southwest which was used by the now defunct Letterman Army Medical Center (LAMC) for medical research and animal experiments.

The PHSH was completely abandoned from 1988 to 2009. The modern wings have been demolished in 2009 and and the main historical buildings have been transformed into housing in 2010, so all the graffiti you see here has been destroyed. See Presidio PHSH Adaptive Reuse Housing - The rehabilitation project for the PHSH, and the now finished project, called The Presidio Landmark .

The Presidio Hospital was really interesting place to explore, as it is very large (6 interconnected buildings, most of them 7-story), mostly intact and covered with *many* cool graffiti. It was once used as a movie set (see those Command Center Delta stencils). At night the place is rather spooky. We heard that one person got murdered in the PHSH in 2002.

The building in the back contains the hospital kitchen with its enormous freezers, the operating rooms and a number of X-ray machines. Many operating rooms still have floodlights and rubber tubes hanging from the ceiling. Several old X-Ray machines are rusting in place. Many of those X-ray machines and scanners were top-of-the-line multi-million dollar equipment in 1981 when the hoptital was closed, and they have just been left there, what a waste of public money!

In the eastern part of the basement, the morgue with six big drawers for the dead bodies, and the greenish autopsy room next door. Many rusted machines, pumps, pipes and tanks are still there.

The buildings are fenced and boarded and since 2006 it appears to be guarded 24/7. Police are often seen in the parking lot. Cleaning crews may be working in the buildings during working hours.

There is now an alarm (with infrared heat sensors) in the main stairway area and in the basement, and it notifies the U.S. Park Police when it triggers (it also makes quite a lot of noise!). Officer Pat Smith may send his dog after you and call his colleagues for backup. Remember, trespassing is illegal and can be prosecuted (if you get caught!). See California Penal Code 602 (k).

If the Park Police sees you going in or out of the PHSH, you are likely get arrested and to receive a $100 ticket. Recently Park Police confiscated Memory Cards from the digital cameras of trespassers, which I don't think they have the right to do.

And if you intend to do graffiti or cause any depredation, you should read 18 U.S.C. § 1361. I wonder if the Presidio Trust could get in trouble for destroying all this unique graffiti art when the buildings will be rehabilitated... Hmmm I guess not: Graffiti is detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the community according to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Another interesting area a few yards North is the old SF-89L Nike ground-to-air missile site from the cold war era, but that's another story!

Those photos were taken in december 2004, january, february, march and july 2005, may and December 2008.

Camera used: Sony A700 DSLR and Sony DSC F828 (8 Mega-pixel).

A big thanks to Luiza Leite for telling me about this place!

Some other sites about the Public Health Service Hospital (PHSH):

* Presidio PHSH Adaptive Reuse Housing - The rehabilitation project for the PHSH

* History of the Public Health Service (PHS) and of the Commissioned Corps

* History of the PHSH: Overview, Detailed History (did you know that there is still an old cemetary with 200 to 500 seamen burried under the flat parking area behind the tennis, north of the hospital?)

* PHSH Rehabilitation Project February 2004,

August 2004

* PHSH Rehabilitation Project Environmental Assessment Intro, Chap1, Chap2, Chap3, Chap4.

* Public Health Hospital discussion thread (read-only) on the San Francisco History Forum.

* Public Health Hospital discussion thread on

* Other PHSH photos by Erik, by Cassidy, by William, by Claudine, by Otherthings, by Quasistoic, by !Habit forming. Search for

* Several PHSH photo galleries at (graymalkin, bo2krocketman, Arecibo, Burzum, Zafo)

If you are also interested by urban exploration, i.e. exploring disused buildings and factories, abandoned tunnels, etc, check out, an excellent database of photography books and other resources on this subject.