Centuries of Defense - Bringing Defense into the 20th Century (1884 – 1932)

A new era of defense construction begins. Westward expansion and industrialzation in the late 1800's led to growth as a great world military power. San Francisco was identified as the second most important strategic military site in the United States.

Coast Artillery at Fort Winfield Scott
Dissapearing gun fired at a Coast Artillery battery.

Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives

  • 1890 - Life Saving Station developed by U.S. Coast Guard at Fort Point

  • 1891 - Endicott fortifications built

    New reinforced-concrete gun batteries constructed on both sides of the Golden Gate strait and in the inner harbor at Angel Island and Fort Mason.

  • 1893 - Fort Miley

    Land for Fort Miley is acquired and fortifications are constructed.

  • 1898 - 1902 - Spanish American War and Philippine-American War

    The country's first entry into international conflict. Troops embark for the Philippines from the Presidio of San Francisco. Presidio expands with construction of new buildings to support embarking and returning troops.

  • 1899 - Letterman General Hospital established

    Innovative military hospital is established to treat thousands of returning sick and injured troops.
Soldier tempting dog at Fort Baker
Soldier tempting a dog at Fort Baker, c. 1900

Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, Edwin S. Long Family Album, GOGA 35355.058

  • 1902 - Fort Baker

    This Endicott-period post represents the Army's interest in providing its soldiers with a healthier living environment with permanent ventiliated barracks and clean running water.

  • 1906 - San Francisco Earthquake and Fire

    General Funston orders troops into the disaster-stricken city after martial law is established. Areas of the Presidio of San Francisco and Fort Mason are used as refugee encampments.
Fort Barry baseball team, c 1910
Fort Barry baseball team, c 1910

Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, TASC Negative Collection, GOGA 35301.0943

  • 1908 - Fort Barry

    Isolated Endicott-period post in the Marin Headlands, includes facilities that support the needs of its soldiers including a hospital, gymnasium, post exchange, and bakery. Fort Barry defenses target threats further in the Pacific rather than just Golden Gate strait.

  • 1912 - Fort Winfield Scott designated a Coast Artillery post.

    Fort Scott, located on the western edge of the Presidio of San Francisco, assumes command of 15 batteries throughout the Presidio and Fort Point.
Gentlemen and ladies in front of gun at Battery Mendell, c 1908
Gentlemen and ladies in front of gun at Battery Mendell, c 1908

Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, Ralph A Durland Papers, GOGA 35290.019

  • 1914 - 1919 - World War I

  • 1915 - Panama-Pacific International Exposition leases areas of the Presidio and Fort Mason

  • 1915 - Establishment of the Fort Mason Depot

    U.S. Army constructs wharves, docks and storehouses to facilitate shipping of men and materiel to the Pacific. The Depot will later become the San Francisco Port of Embarkation.

  • 1917 - Fort Funston

    Laguna Merced Military Reservation renamed for General Funston.
Lieutenant Sweeley, Crissy Field
Lieutenant Sweeley, Crissy Field

Golden Gate NRA, Park Archives, Dora Devol Brett Collection, GOGA 32485.136

  • 1921 - Crissy Army Airfield established

    First Army coastal defense airfield on the Pacific coast on the site of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition's automobile racetrack and flight demonstration field.

  • 1925 - Harbor Defenses of San Francisco Command located a Fort Winfield Scott

    Fort Scott is now responsible for Forts Baker, Barry, Cronkhite, Funston, and Miley, to protect the coastline from enemy invasion and to ensure friendly shipping.

Original panel for "Bringing Defense into the 20th Century (1884-1932)" (PDF, 65.7 MB)


Last updated: February 28, 2015

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