Visiting San Francisco’s Fort Point
Although it feels like ages ago it was only this past February when I last visited San Francisco. My has the world changed since then. On that carefree weekend I had little idea of what the future would bring and took for granted the freedom I enjoyed as I explored such spots as the Palace of the Legion of Honor and the Walt Disney Family Museum. In fact that freedom led me to Fort Point, a historic site perched on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. A month later it and every other place I visited would close indefinitely as the world retreated indoors to face the pandemic. Since then Fort Point has reopened, albeit with limited access, and I’m happy to finally share this fascinating spot with you.
In the 1850’s California was at the height of the Gold Rush and San Francisco was emerging as an important commercial area. As such, it was decided the San Francisco Bay would need defending from possible foreign invasion and the U.S. Army Engineers planned a series of forts along its borders. From 1853-1861 Fort Point was constructed and over150 years later it remains a striking example of “Third System” design (the “Third System” is an era of defensive design that features massive thick walls and at least two levels of cannons).
Despite its extensive defensive power Fort Point never saw any action and mostly served as military barracks from the Civil War era through World War I. During World War II it resumed its initial purpose to guard the San Francisco Bay but, thankfully, was never put to use. After the war its preservation was proposed and in 1970 it became a National Historic Site.
I must admit, prior to my visit I was not aware of the fort’s existence. In fact, I happened upon it by chance. After visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum I had some free time and decided to further explore the Presidio. I drove along its winding roads until I reached a dead end at the fort. Fascinated by the looming structure I decided to check it out.
It was a warm sunny day but nestled in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge the fort remained cold and moist from ocean spray. When I entered the structure I was equally awestruck by its architectural design and its unique position under the world’s most famous bridge.
A few areas of the fort are off limits but most is open for exploration and I happily wandered its vaulted corridors exploring the treasure within.
It’s such a fascinating place and I’m so glad it’s reopened so more visitors can experience this unique part of our nation’s history. Currently, the interior of the building is off limits due to the pandemic but it’s still well worth visiting as the most interesting areas are outside. Personally, I’m so happy I decided to explore the Presidio that day many months ago so I was able to experience yet another unique spot that helps make San Francisco such a special place.