San Francisco Bay

Relief map of San Francisco BayPhotograph of San Francisco Bay with cruiser Oakland in foreground

Naval History and Heritage Command #NH 98442

San Francisco Bay was first explored by Westerners in 1542 and mapped in 1775, when de Alaya first sailed through the Golden Gate into the bay.  The Spanish established the Presidio in 1776 but settlements in the area remained small until after the Mexican War of 1846.  The gold rush of 1849 swelled the population, and the transcontinental railroad established San Francisco as the most important city on the West Coast.

As one of the finest natural anchorages in the world, San Francisco Bay became home of numerous naval facilities.  These included shipyards at Hunter's Point, Oakland, and Mare Island and a naval air station at Alameda. The battleship California was built here, the first large warship built on the West Coast.

Coastal defenses were headquartered at Fort Winfield Scott and manned by 6 Coast Artillery Regiment and 65 Coast Artillery Brigade and elements of 18 Coast Artillery Regiment, with main batteries at Fort Baker, Fort Barry, Fort Cronkhite, Fort Funston, Fort Miley, Fort Winfield Scott, and Milagra RidgeHamilton Field north of the Golden Gate provided air cover while III Corps was based at the Presidio (though most of its combat troops were quartered at Fort Ord some 90 miles or 145 km south of the Bay.)


Leighton and Coakley (1955)
Pearce and Smith (1990)

Stanton (2006)

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