• East view from Crissy Field overlook with old Coast Guard station on left and city on right

    Presidio of San Francisco

    California

Batteries East and West

During the Civil War, advances in artillery proved that masonry forts in the style of Fort Point were unable to withstand bombardment by heavy ordinance. Consequentially, the period following the war was marked by innovative revisions in seacoast defense. In this era, brick and mortar forts were gradually replaced by earthwork batteries.
 
Battery East around 1900.
Battery East around 1900. Angel Island is visible in the background.
National Park Service, GGNRA
 
In 1872, work began on several new gun positions on the coastal bluffs behind Fort Point. By 1873, the first emplacement—called West Battery—was completed and armed with twelve 15-inch Rodman cannon. That same year, construction began on Battery East and a covered path was soon built to connect batteries East and West. During the Spanish-American War of 1898, 8-inch rifled Rodman cannon were emplaced at Battery East.
 
Powder magazine at Battery West.
A powder magazine at Battery West as it appears today. The concrete structure to the right is part of Battery Godfrey.
National Park Service, GGNRA
 
When the Endicott-period batteries were constructed at the Presidio during the 1890’s, Battery West was almost completely destroyed. At Battery East, however, the earthen works built to protect the large Rodman guns are still visible, as are the brick-lined magazines used to store ammunition. The site commands beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay, and downtown.
 
A Battery East emplacement today.
A gun emplacement at Battery East as it appears today.
National Park Service, GGNRA
 
 

Resources

Thompson, Erwin N. Historic Resource Study: Seacoast Fortifications, San Francisco Harbor. California: GGNRA, 1979.

Did You Know?

Crissy Field today

Crissy Field was the only Army airfield in the western United States continuously active from 1919 to 1936.