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Naval Air Station, Treasure Island

In September 1993 the Department of Defense decided to close the Naval Station and return it to civilian use. Naval Air 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.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:57:32 ZULU