The site for the Presidio of San Francisco, a National Historic Landmark, was selected by Lt. Col. Juan Bautista de Anza in 1776. This military installation of more than 1,400 acres includes forts, hospitals, parade grounds, and the restored home of the original Spanish Commander. The Spanish established three forts at the presidio to protect San Francisco Bay. The presidio also guarded four missions, the Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe, the Villa de Branciforte, and a royal ranch. It served as a base for the exploration of the northern California coast and its interior from 1817-1821. During the 1790s, territorial disputes with Great Britain over the Pacific Northwest and lower Alaska, caused the expansion of the presidio. Castillo de San Joaquin, a detached fort, was built where Fort Point is located today. The presidio was occupied by the U.S. Army in 1847 after the U.S. occupation of California, and from 1849 to the present (except for 1851-1857) was a major U.S. Army Headquarters.
The Presidio, administered by the National Park Service and part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is located on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula on U.S. 101. The Presidio can be reached from the north by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge (Hwys. 1 and 101); from the east by way of Lombard St. (Hwy. 101); and from the south via Hwy. 1. Open year-round; the William Penn Mott Jr. Visitor Center is open 9:00am to 5:00pm daily and is closed New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. The visitor center is temporarily housed at the Presidio Officers' Club, Building 50, Moraga St. Please call 415-561-4323 or visit the park's website for more information.