A few months back, we posted a list of local urban legends that readers submitted for us to Fact Check. As we’ve tracked most of them down, the stories have appeared in this blog and occasionally on Fact Check TV.
Since we debunked two more mysteries this week, I wanted to quickly recap the series. Below, I’ve listed each urban legend, our Fact Check rating and a link to our analysis. Further down, I’ve listed the urban legends that remain in our queue.
Legend: There used to be an unidentified petroleum-based build up underneath the city. It was called “the blob.” Rating: True. A massive underground pool of pollution discovered in the 1980s threatened to halt downtown redevelopment and cause greater environmental catastrophe. It ended up doing neither.
Legend: There are bodies buried underneath a park that used to be a cemetery in Mission Hills. Rating: True. A few of the original tombstones remain, marking the park’s previous use as a cemetery.
Legend: Downtown sidewalks once had small purple glass squares in them so light could flow into underground tunnels. Rating: Barely True. The glass squares illuminated basements of shops, not a secret network of passageways.
Legend: There are public restrooms underneath the Horton Plaza fountain. Rating: False. The city once had notorious underground restrooms near the fountain, but they no longer exist.
Legend: The center span of the Coronado Bay Bridge was designed to float if it was bombed and fell into the bay. Rating: False. Its unique design was meant to be cheaper and look sleeker. Structural experts predict the center span would ultimately sink in the scenario.
Legend: The entire Convention Center is actually floating on water. Rating: False. Although part of the building relies on special pumps to prevent flooding, the actual structure is built on the top of bedrock.
Legend: The University of California, San Diego built secret tunnels during the 1960s to provide accessible routes for the National Guard in case of rioting. Rating: False. The tunnels were primarily built to channel utilities and cabling between buildings.
Legend: A colony of people who played Munchkins in the movie The Wizard of Oz live in miniature houses somewhere on La Jolla’s Mount Soledad. Rating: False. The story’s a fake, just like Oz himself. It mirrors similar urban legends in other cities.
Thank you to all the readers, government officials and researchers who helped us hunt down those urban legends and shared their own personal stories about them. We couldn’t have done it without you.
But we have more to do. Below, I’ve listed the urban legends we haven’t examined. If you know anything that can help us Fact Check these claims, please send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Rum runners once used the sea caves near Point Loma Nazarene University as a staging point to deliver booze.
• The San Ysidro border crossing is the busiest in the world, not just in the United States.
• The padres buried treasure in Presidio Park during the 1700s when their mission was attacked by Native Americans. The treasure remains buried somewhere in the park today.
• The military has placed explosives beneath the Coronado Bay Bridge so the Navy could blow it up and deny enemies access to the harbor.
• The military has also placed explosives beneath the Silver Strand beaches so that it could blow a new path out of the harbor for Navy ships if the Coronado Bay Bridge were destroyed.
• There’s a secret underground military base under Point Loma. The entrance tunnels are visible to the public from a road, but no readers knew which road.