Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
Naval Station, Treasure Island
(Naval Training and Distribution
Center, Naval Hospital, Prisoner of War Camp)
Naval Station Treasure
Island, circa 1957
Treasure Island (1997)
In September 1993 the Department of Defense decided to close
the Naval Station and return it to civilian use. Naval Station,
Treasure Island closed 30 September 1997. The base lies within
San Francisco Bay and within the jurisdiction of the City of
San Francisco. The Naval Station comprises a portion of Yerba
Buena Island, and all of the 403-acre Treasure Island, originally
built as a municipal airport. Yerba Buena Island is a steeply
sloped and highly vegetated natural rock outcropping of approximately
150 acres. Treasure Island, a flat and low-lying rectangle of
filled land, became the site of the 1939 Golden Gate International
Exposition and a military installation in 1941.
The base is located on a 404-acre man-made
island, built originally for a municipal airport and later used
for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition. It includes
a pier, training facilities, 908 housing units, 9 barracks-style
facilities, a public elementary school, and a clinic. Also included
are 314 acres of submerged land. Yerba Buena Island, 350 acres
of uplands and 243 acres of tide and submerged lands was transferred
from the ownership of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to
the Navy for purposes of disposal. The San Francisco-Oakland
Bay Bridge bisects Yerba Buena. DoD declared the property surplus
in May 1996. Yerba Buena includes the fire station, officers
club, 105 housing units and 10 military buildings.
In 1935, the residents of the City of
San Francisco decided that the City should hold a "Fair"
to celebrate the engineering of the Golden Gate Bridge and the
San Francisco and Oakland Bay Bridge. The shoals north of Yerba
Buena Island. The shoal area was ultimately chosen because it
was accessible from all parts of the San Francisco Bay Area.
The construction of Treasure Island began in February 1936 and
was completed in January 1939. To build the 403 acre Island 29
million cubic yards of sand and gravel were transported to or
dredged from the Bay and the Sacramento River delta. The name
"Treasure Island" refers to the gold-laden fill dirt
that washed down from the Sierras into the Bay, from which fill
was dredged to create the island.
The original plan was to hold the two-year
long exposition, and then convert the island and related facilities
into an international civilian airport. As American involvement
in World Was II was becoming more certain, on February 28, 1941,
the Island was leased from the City of San Francisco by the United
States Government. On April 1st, 1941, it became a military base
known as Naval Station Treasure Island which also included portions
of Yerba Buena Island. It became the headquarters of the 12th
Naval District. During World War II, Treasure Island was used
as a center for receiving, training, and dispatching service
personnel. During this period, Exposition structures were temporarily
used for barracks and training centers, and new structures were
constructed to house military functions.
After the war, Treasure Island was primarily
used as a naval training and administrative center. Approximately
3,000 military and 1,000 civilian personnel worked at the Naval
Station. Some of the major functions were the Fleet Training
Center, Commander Naval Base San Francisco, waterfront facilities,
troop and family housing, personnel support including the processing
of Pacific-bound and homecoming personnel, and a museum featuring
Exposition, military, and aviation exhibits.
At its creation, Treasure Island was 14'
above sea level. It is now 9 feet. Earthquake activity would
result in liquefactions and lateral spreading and could cause
substantial damage if improvements are not made. Officials estimate
the cost of shoring up the island for redevelopment at $100 million
depending on reuse.
The US Coast Guard Installation at Yerba
Buena Island (YBI) occupies approximately half the Island at
the southern side. This facility will remain an active Coast
Guard Installation. The Lighthouse Depot is part of US Coast
Guard San Francisco, and is home of the buoy tender Blackhaw.
The keepers house now serves a a residence for Coast Guard admirals.
Yerba Buena Island is located in the middle of the Bay Bridge
running between San Francisco and Oakland, adjacent to Treasure
Island. YBI is owned and managed by the United States Coast Guard,
and access is restricted to authorized users only.
Yerba Buena Island, in contrast with Treasure
Island, is a natural island. In 1775, the Spanish entered San
Francisco Bay. They gave the Island the name Yerba Buena. Yerba
Buena is Spanish for "Good Herb" and was reportedly
given to the Island for the wild mint that grew there in abundance
and was used by Spaniards to flavor their tea. Yerba Buena Island
was also known as Wood Island, Bird Island, and most popularly,
Goat Island, its official name from 1895 to 1931. The name came
from the herds of goats raised there for food from about 1850
to 1931, when the name was officially changed back to Yerba Buena
Island. Although seals haul out year round on Yerba Buena Island,
it is not considered a pupping site for harbor seals.
Reprinted with permission from Global.Security.org
Located centrally in the San Francisco
Bay, the Treasure Island facility, commissioned 4 April 1942
grew to an official bed capacity of 500, but was actually caring
for 700 patients a year after its commissioning, and in 1944,
capacity was 1326 officers and enlisted. Because it was readily
accessible both by water and by road, the it functioned as an
acute care facility, receiving the most ill and most seriously
injured both from overseas and from around the Bay area. It was
scheduled for decommissioning 1 March 1947
of War Camp
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