Fort Mason-A Gracious Host
People are often surprised to learn that military reservations in San Francisco were always open to the public, except in times of war. There was a necessary interchange of people, ideas, and events between the City and the U.S. Army since the reservation was situated so closely to an urban center. Fort Mason received refugees from the 1906 earthquake and fire with open arms and served as a temporary command post for General Frederick Funston, who directed relief efforts from what is now the Officers' Club.
Fort Mason also hosted a celebration of the City's rebirth following the 1906 devastation. San Francisco committed to hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. Exposition architects selected the shorelands between the Presidio and Fort Mason, facing out on the Golden Gate, as the exposition's stage.
The Secretary of War vowed to facilitate the Exposition, an event intended to celebrate the construction of the Panama Canal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Army viewed the Exposition as an opportunity to exhibit the strength of San Francisco's coastal defenses by opening Bay Area military posts for public inspection. The Secretary of War temporarily loaned 305 acres of military lands to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition Company, including the southern third of Fort Mason, an area which became the "Zone"-the Exposition's amusement concessions complex.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area has continued this history of community involvement by shaping Lower Fort Mason into a cultural center which hosts performances, craft fairs, a farmers' market, lectures, and many other events.