Island

By Richard Miller aka Sparkletack

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Story of Treasure Island (pt. 2) [37:46m]

IV. NAVAL STATION TREASURE ISLAND

The Navy Sails In


Navy seamen drill in the square where the "Tower of the Sun" once stood. - San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

Plans for the demolition of the Fair began immediately. Everything was to go except the Administration/Terminal building and hangars near the harbor, for which Pan-Am Airways and its Flying Clippers had already signed a ten-year lease. A spiderweb of runways was planned, and city officials anticipated the participation of every major airline in the country.

At the beginning of 1941, however, the Federal Government was a little edgy about the military situation in the Pacific. Rumours of submarines offshore were rampant. Across the Atlantic, the Lend Lease Program providing military and economic aid to Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union was well underway. Though the isolationist movement was still strong, it was becoming increasingly likely that the United States would eventually be drawn into the war—perhaps sooner than expected. Over a year in advance of the United States' actual involvement in combat, the Bay Area had begun a shift towards wartime production – and by the summer of 1941 it was a major "arsenal of democracy", bristling with military bases and production facilities.

Of course San Francisco had long been a Navy town. And as you know, if you’ve ever been startled out of your wits by the sudden overhead roar of the Blue Angels during the annual "Fleet Week" celebrations, to some small degree it still is. In the 1940s, San Francisco Bay was the centerpiece of West Coast naval defense, featuring Moffet Field in the south, a base at Tiburon in the north, and the newly commissioned Alameda Naval Air Station in the east. Huge ship building facilities were gearing up at Hunters Point and Mare Island, the oldest naval shipyard on the Pacific Coast. But with all this, there was not a spot in the bay more strategically located than Treasure Island—and so Rear Admiral John Greenslade, Commandant of the 12th Naval District, approached San Francisco with a proposition.

What could they say? The city agreed to put plans for the airport on hold, and—in exchange for federal funds to develop it later – to lease the island to the Navy. The lease would be valid, as Mayor Rossi reported it, "until the passing of this present national emergency". On April Fools Day, 1941, Treasure Island, along with its siamese twin Yerba Buena, became a military base known as Naval Station Treasure Island.
 

The Eruption of World War II

Nine months later, December 7th, 1941 suddenly became the "date which shall live in infamy". With the bombing of Hawaii's Pearl Harbour the whole Pacific erupted into war. Roosevelt's pre-Fair address two years earlier had mentioned the millions spent by the government on the island project, and had emphasized the vital importance of the Bay Area's naval fleet to America's national security. The United States was now at full-scale war with Japan, and it occurred to the Secretary of the Navy that since the Federal Government had built the island in the first place, it might be time to reconsider the terms of their rental. Yerba Buena Island had been a military base on and off for three quarters of a century, and a Navy base continuously since 1898. Four months after the lease with San Francisco had been signed, the Navy decided to simply seize Treasure Island—permanently.

The grand sum of $44,801 was offered as compensation, with the Navy filing a "declaration of taking and deposit". A San Francisco News reporter translated this into plain English: "instead of: 'We’d like to have Treasure Island, the Navy said 'The island is ours, and that’s final.'"

Of the almost eight million dollars spent to create the island and Exposition, San Francisco had invested over three and a half million of its own money on what it considered "permanent improvements". The Navy's offer, even during wartime, was hard to swallow. After a citywide storm of heated editorials about the legality of this maneuver and a flock of rumours—including the one that the Navy might offer the city one dollar for the island—a trade was offered. The Navy owned some land adjacent to the city's Mills Field airport down past South San Francisco, and having no other choice, San Francisco made the swap.

According to a book prepared by the Defense Department in 1995, the deal was struck to the mutual satisfaction of both sides. San Francisco allegedly already knew that Treasure Island was a problematic site; there were safety risks being so close to the city and bridges; the island was too close to Oakland, which had already gone so far as to proclaim itself "Treasure Island's Mainland"; and that it was really just too small for an international airfield. It is true that World War II led to development of aeronautical technology which made the short runways of the island impractical, but to say that San Francisco was happy about the deal back then is a revision of history.

Several members of city government were up in arms, including the Public Utilities Manager and the City Attorney. Furthermore, I've read through a stack of telegrams that Walter Haas, Chairman of the Treasure Island Airport Committee fired off to Washington DC, addressed to senators, generals, and the Secretary of the Navy himself. According to Haas, Treasure Island had been declared by "technical experts of major airlines to be ideally situated for large scale transport operations." His telegrams are filled with desperation, begging the Navy to find another spot for their new base. "We wish to emphasize that there is only one site in San Francisco Bay for a downtown metropolitan air terminal and that site is Treasure Island. Its loss to us would mean that 10 years of preparation and planning for such a terminal would be permanently lost."

But the deal was done, and frankly, the general attitude of the man on the street reflected the mood of the rest of the country; this was life during wartime, and sacrifices must be made. The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Treasure Island's harbor was packed with vessels of all sorts volunteered for military conversion – fishing boats would become mine sweepers and luxury yachts would serve as harbor patrol craft. Pan Am's entire Clipper fleet was pressed into service as well, and would ferry military personnel and medical supplies between San Francisco and Pearl Harbor for the duration of the war.

San Francisco would never get the "downtown, metropolitan airport" the Junior Chamber of Commerce had craved, but after the war, as you may have suspected all along, Mills Field would evolve into the modern San Francisco International Airport.

Life During Wartime

As the Navy took over they began to level most of what remained of the Exposition. Huge wrecking balls crushed the fragile buildings like stucco eggshells, and the shattered remains were unsentimentally hauled away. A few buildings were deemed useful to the military—the "Hall of Western States" became troop barracks, and the "Palace of Electricity", home of the Fair's radio station KGEI, was taken over by the Office of War Information as the first west coast facility of the Voice of America. The court in which the Tower of the Sun once stood became a parade ground, and there's an ironically lovely photo of uniformed cadets exercising under the gaze of the "Evening Star", a graceful statue of a feminine nude. And even though the monumental "Pacifica" was nominated by her sculptor for installation on Alcatraz—as a west-coast dopplegänger to New York Harbor's Statue of Liberty—she was one of the first things to go.

The riverboat Delta Queen, paddle-wheeling veteran of the Sacramento/San Francisco commute, was drafted for use as temporary troop quarters while permanent barracks were being built. The elegant Administration building was re-christened "Building One" and became the operational headquarters of the new base. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, who at the height of the Pacific war commanded over two million sailors, 5,000 ships and 20,000 planes, had a command center in a series of armored rooms in the basement. Years after the war in 1966, Nimitz would die in retirement at "Quarters One", the circa-1900 Commandant's residence on the northern slope of Yerba Buena Island.

As the military conflict intensified, the main mission of Naval Station Treasure Island became processing troops in and out of the Pacific Theatre, and quartering them as they awaited assignment. As often as not this assignment would be to a ship still under construction at the Mare Island or Hunters Point shipyards. Over the course of the war, 4.5 million men were hustled through Treasure Island's facilities; at the peak of the Pacific Invasion, 12,000 brave and terrified men per day poured through the Golden Gate towards Japan.

Though focused on keeping the conveyer belt moving, the base served other military functions as well. All wounded sailors in the Pacific Theatre were shipped to its hospital, which, though small and understaffed, was never quite overwhelmed by the volume of casualties. Harbor patrol units, coast watchers, mine patrol forces, and anti-submarine net tenders called the base home, and it served as a docking station for the Moffett Field-based squadron of anti-submarine blimps. Treasure Island was also host to the Advance Naval Training, Fleet Operation, and Radio Operation schools. All in all, a busy little spot.


Chow line in "The Grand Hotel", the largest mess hall on the planet. - San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

The base's mess hall, appropriately once the Fair's "Food and Beverages Building", was the largest in the world, quickly earning the nickname "The Grand Hotel". A glance at the mess hall's shopping list reveals vividly the scale of the human torrent roaring through Treasure Island. Each day 4,000 pies, 5,000 pounds of fresh bread and 50,000 doughnuts were plopped onto trays; every meal required 200 gallons of gravy, 300 gallons of soup, and two tons of steak. On its busiest day, the Grand Hotel served 18,000 men in two hours—that's a rate of over two men per second! Even the Navy had been unable to foresee the demands that the war would place on Treasure Island. Before Pearl Harbor Day they had planned to staff it with fewer than 1500 men; but at its peak the island bulged to a population of 60,000 sailors and civilian employees, not counting over a thousand German prisoners of war.

Just a year into the campaign Treasure Island had already grown into a self-sufficient city, with just about everything a sailor could need crammed into an area measuring less than one square mile; two restaurants, five barber shops, tailors, cobblers, a florist, a malt shop, a gas station, a Bank of America branch, a colossal general store, and much more. That malt shop was heaven to war-weary sailors just back from the sweltering tropics, and could sell as many as 10,000 cold ones a day. On the other hand, the clothing department could issue almost a hundred thousand heavy wool pea-coats a year for the freezing San Francisco "summers". The Island fielded baseball, football, and basketball teams, and in another kind of recreation, by war's end over 2200 newlyweds would be married at the non-denominational chapel—a chapel in which, years later, infamous heiress Patty Hearst would marry her bodyguard after release from prison. Entertainment was provided by bowling alleys, arts and crafts studios and movie theatres, not to mention performances by the San Francisco Symphony and the famed traveling USO shows, featuring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Glenn Miller, the Marx Brothers, Carmen Miranda, and oh so much more!

You all know how the war turned out. On May 8th, 1945, Germany surrendered to the Allied Forces, ending the war in Europe. A month later President Harry S Truman arrived in San Francisco for the signing of the United Nations Charter. And on August 15, Emperor Hirohito announced the unconditional surrender of Japan, bringing the bloodbath in the Pacific to a close.

With the announcement of the surrender, spontaneous demonstrations broke out all over San Francisco. The city's air raid sirens shrieked with joy, and ticker tape and shredded telephone books rained from office buildings onto the streets of the Financial District. As night fell the celebration took an ugly turn, dashing hopes for a little bit of peace on the planet—at least in San Francisco. Alcohol-fueled riots broke out and servicemen rampaged along Market Street, attacking automobiles and streetcars, looting stores, and tearing down posters that reminded them of the war. Over a hundred windows were smashed, and countless people were injured. By the time the violence had ended days later, a thousand people were injured, and eleven were dead.

On Treasure Island, three separate surgical teams worked round the clock on casualties of the victory "celebrations", and an entire ward was dedicated to patients suffering from fractured jaws. After four years of a dark and bitter war, V-J Day was—ironically—the busiest in the history of the Treasure Island hospital.

The Postwar Era


One of a series of mock atomic bomb tests performed in 1957. - San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

Along with the rest of the country, San Francisco and the Treasure Island Naval Base gradually recovered from the wounds of the war and shifted into peacetime mode. The population of the island shrank to just 4,000 personnel, and settled into a monotonous military routine. This was disrupted in the early post-war days by nothing more exciting than the fire of '47, which filled the sky over San Francisco Bay with dense black smoke and destroyed what remained of the "temporary" Exposition-era structures—including the famous "Grand Hotel".

At the beginning of the Cold War—that frosty fifty years of indirect conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union—Treasure Island was primarily used as a naval training and administrative center. But as the cold war began to heat up, first with the Korean War in the early fifties, and then towards the end of the decade in Vietnam, Treasure Island resumed its role of processing sailors on their way to combat. The atomic age also made its presence felt. Training exercises began in which sailors practiced the decontamination of radioactive vessels—using real radioactive materials. And during 1957, a series of mushroom clouds bloomed above the island. To glance up from a stroll along the Embarcadero and catch sight of one of those must have just about frozen the blood in any onlooker's post-Hiroshima veins! Fortunately for the physical (if not mental) health of San Franciscans, these explosions were not atomic blasts, but conventional imitations detonated for "demonstration and training" purposes.

The fact that the Bay Area was essentially an armed military camp lies at odds with the heartland's perception of San Francisco as the center of the peacenik lunatic fringe. This contradiction was probably most stark during the Vietnam War. While San Francisco was awash in the summer of love, and student anti-war activists invaded UC Berkeley's Sproul Hall, Treasure Island carried on sending warships to Southeast Asia. The demonstrations, marches, and protests of the '60s barely touched the island, though there was at least one interesting incident in 1968. Treasure Island, along with other installations around the bay was "bombed" with thousands of leaflets announcing a GI & Veterans March for Peace... and it was apparently an inside job.

Death of a Cold War Base


An aging base waits in limbo. - Richard Miller

Following the end of the Vietnam war, life on the Naval base carried on as usual, but the environment surrounding it had dramatically changed. According to the Navy's official history of its Bay Area facilities, the mood of the region was characterized by "disillusionment bordering on open hostility toward the military " . This was ongoing throughout the 1970s, but probably reached its most recent peak in the '80s with the rejection of the battleship "Missouri" from the San Francisco Bay. Though this hostility has been somewhat ameliorated by the passage of time, Treasure Island's military days were already numbered.

Following the untidy disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the Pentagon—under President Bush the elder—decided to purge some of the costly barnacles of the country's half-century military buildup. The old and ponderous world-war fighting military had in some ways become an anachronism, and there was plenty of money that could be saved by shutting a few of the old bases down. To that end the "Base Realignment and Closure Commission" was created in 1988. Every few years since its inception the group has offered a new list of military installations for closure.

In the Bay Area, San Francisco's Presidio Army Base was on the very first one. On the third go-round in 1993, Treasure Island's number came up, along with the Alameda Naval Air Station and Mare Island shipyards. The two older facilities were decommissioned first, so Treasure Island, the youngest naval installation in the bay would be the very last to go.

At dusk on May 8, 1997, in a full-dress Naval ceremony, the flag of Naval Station Treasure Island was lowered for the final time, as the mournful notes of a single bugle drifted out across the bay. The island would be staffed by a skeleton crew of sailors for the next few months, until October 1st, when the legal return of Treasure Island to San Francisco would finally take place.
 

V. RETURN TO SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco's "Newest Neighborhood"

The city's movers and shakers salivated at the thought of this almost unbearably prime real estate falling into the public domain. It was obviously a little bit late for the international airport plan, so San Franciscans unleashed a flood of ideas for the island, some perhaps more practical than others. These early suggestions included turning the place into an Olympic training facility, a gigantic theme park, a new headquarters for the United Nations, a women's prison, and a site for a new ballpark for the San Francisco Giants—thankfully no longer necessary! A couple of other early notions involved swapping the property for the Headwaters redwood grove up in Humboldt County, or turning it into a floating casino—both of those from ex-mayor Willie Brown. When the dust settled, the early consensus was to develop a private/public partnership to fill the acreage with housing, parks and other amenities, turning the island into "San Francisco's newest neighborhood".

But not so fast. Though the island had become a naval base almost literally overnight, the reverse of that process was not going to be easy. For one thing, a half century of accumulated federal red tape meant that, in the words of one city official, negotiating with the Navy involved going back to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. That's the 1848 deal by which the United States had acquired California from Mexico, and he was only half-joking. In addition, years of intensive military occupation meant that the island was a toxic waste disaster, deeply contaminated by heavy-duty carcinogens such as asbestos, lead, dioxins, PCBs and possibly even radioactive waste. Thankfully federal law mandates that such contamination be cleaned up before a final transfer may take place, but though the government had saved billions of dollars through country-wide base closures, the Navy didn't like the idea of spending money just to give the island away. $120 million have been spent on cleanup as of 2006, but the net result of the Navy's resistance has been over a decade of foot-dragging, costing the Bay Area millions in unrealized income. And to make matters worse, negotiations between the City of San Francisco's Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) and the group of investors officially designated to redevelop the island moved at a snail's pace, giving the Navy further excuse for delay.

If you read the newspapers in San Francisco during the late '90s then you probably got sick of hearing about Treasure Island's future. The whole thing devolved into a political soap opera, generating miles of digital newsprint. Allegations of corruption, mismanagement, and "sweetheart deals" dogged the administrations of both Mayor Brown and of Gavin Newsom. San Francisco, the Navy, and the TIDA were targets of severe criticism from just about everyone, from environmental activists to a seemingly endless array of other interest organizations. Community input was taken into consideration as plans were developed for the site, but since just about every group in the Bay Area has some interest in the island's future, the resulting gridlock should not have been surprising—in San Francisco, this is business as usual. For details on this disheartening saga, feel free to browse the online archives of SFGate.com. As the political wars were being waged on the mainland, the island languished in a kind of limbo, a ghost town owned by the absentee Navy, promised to the city, but serving just about no one.

Treasure Island in Limbo


The streamline moderne World's Fair Administration Building as it stands in 2007 - note the original air traffic control tower still on the roof. - Richard Miller

Well, that's not precisely true. During the past decade Treasure Island has probably been best known as a prime location for movie and television projects. A couple of films were shot before the decommissioning of the base, most notably "The Caine Mutiny" in 1954 and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", in which the former World's Fair Administration Building—digitally draped with swastika banners—played the role of the Berlin Airport. Since 1997, though, the old hangars have served as sound stages for a wide array of productions, sweetening the delayed hand-over of the island somewhat by injecting a little cash into the local economy. A short list of these would include "Rent", "Monk", "The Incredible Hulk", "Battlebots", "Nash Bridges", "Patch Adams", "The Parent Trap", and, regrettably, "Flubber".

The long-term plan for redevelopment seems to indicate that the film industry will continue to be welcome, and San Francisco's official city website promotes the island as being "at the forefront of Mayor Gavin Newsom's commitment to revitalize San Francisco's film industry and to make San Francisco the premier filming destination in the country"—something I think most local citizens would endorse.

One side effect of the island's current state of limbo has been the closure of the Treasure Island Museum. This wonderful facility, located in the Administration Building, was established back in 1974 as an official naval history museum. With the announcement of the base closure in '93, the non-profit "Treasure Island Museum Association" took over the operation. A treasure trove of memorabilia from the World's Fair and Flying Clipper eras were on display alongside historical military artifacts and extensive archives. With the decommissioning of the base in '97, the Navy closed the museum and exiled the collection to basement storage lockers. Though a couple of sleek statues left over from the World's Fair stand guard outside, there's not much left to see. Negotiations are ongoing, but as of today, there is no guarantee that the collection will remain on the island, or even in California. And in the interim, it remains hidden from the public. Treasure Island was designated California State Historic Landmark 987 in 1989, and I keep my fingers crossed that the museum will one day reopen, making the island's colorful history real for future generations.

In the Meantime


The streamline moderne World's Fair Administration Building as it stands in 2007 - note the original air traffic control tower still on the roof. - Richard Miller

Alongside the occasional invasions of movie people, somewhere around two thousand people call Treasure Island home today. These include an assortment of government employees—teachers, firefighters, police officers—and other random folks who've made the move to enjoy relatively inexpensive housing, million dollar views and the quiet, almost small-town ambience left in the absence of the Navy. The Administration Building serves as offices for a private agency responsible for renting this city-controlled housing stock to the general public. Substantial subsidies offered by the nonprofit Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative support a population of once-homeless people as well. And according to the current director of Island Operations, there's also a single wild deer lurking somewhere on the base, though how she got there is anybody's guess! A pair of restaurants, a gym, chapel, marina, and a couple of baseball fields—on which I myself have enjoyed a game or two—more or less complete the available amenities.

The atmosphere out on the island is a little surreal right now. There's a feeling of suspended animation, of a kind of vacuum, a geographical space outside of time. When the clock begins to roll forward again, most of the current residents will be given an option to stay... but the new phase is going to come as a bit of a shock.

The Future of Treasure Island

As of today, the middle of 2007, the Treasure Island political soap opera appears to be on track for some kind of resolution. After well over a decade of contention, as well as thousands of community meetings, the future of Treasure Island is finally starting to coalesce.

The filing of an environmental impact report in 2005 resulted in the agreement that Treasure Island, along with Yerba Buena, will be turned over to the city in 2008—this time for real. The Navy agreed to accept $40 million to relinquish their hold on the island, on condition that the toxic waste left behind be remediated by its new owners. This gave the go-ahead for TIDA's final redevelopment plans—under constant redevelopment themselves since the agency's inception—to be presented to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for approval last year. With some reservations, that blueprint was approved. Keeping in mind that San Francisco politics are less stable than the ground the city is built on, here's the plan:


The island of the future - San Francisco's newest neighborhood. - Skidmore, Owings and Merrill

Treasure Island, along with Yerba Buena, will be transformed into a self-sufficient, ultra modern community for 13,500 San Franciscans—a population larger than my own hometown. The three World's Fair survivors will be left in place, but the grid of antiquated Navy-era structures will be replaced by roughly 6,000 residential units and 300 acres of open space, including organic gardens, bike paths, playgrounds, and even wetlands. Sustainable technology such as solar power and a wind farm are highlighted in the design, as well as the use of green construction methods. Several distinct neighborhoods, complete with townhouses, flats, and residential towers will radiate from a central retail-oriented core, featuring a 40-story tower reminiscent of the Golden Gate Exposition's "Tower of the Sun". In an effort to echo the density mainland San Franciscans are accustomed to, most housing will be clustered within a 10-minute walk from the new western-facing ferry terminal. To blunt the impact of a flood of new commuters on the Bay Bridge, emphasis will be placed on ferry and bus transit, and a congestion pricing scheme—similar to that recently imposed in London—would charge a nominal fee to motorists entering and exiting the island during commute hours.

If you're already starting to pack your bags, keep in mind that although thirty percent of the new units will be available at below-market rates, you can bet that the remainder will start at six figures and head north from there. If all goes well, the first lucky new residents will move in by 2013, and the project as a whole is slated for completion by 2022.

The whole thing is projected to cost $1.2 billion dollars. Since this is not the kind of pocket change San Francisco has lying around, a private development group has been involved more or less from day one. One member of this team, the Lennar Corporation, is a specialist in the rehabilitation of military bases. Already deeply insinuated into local politics, they've scored just about every other Bay Area military base deal as well. A less controversial member is Wilson Meany Sullivan, the local firm responsible for the wonderful restoration of the San Francisco Ferry Building. Together the group will pony up $500 million for the rights to transform Treasure Island—and San Francisco will borrow $700 million in bonds to make up its share.

A Calculated Risk

But the best laid plans of mice, men, and real estate developers have a way of going awry. The environmental contamination issue is far from being resolved. Though the worst areas are currently fenced off, there's no predicting precisely what chemical horrors will be discovered as the cleanup continues. The ability of the island to survive an earthquake is also in question. Constructed like an elevated mud pie, on opening day of the World's Fair in 1939 the island rose 14 feet above the bay. Its non-engineered fill was already slowly sinking when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck in 1989, and today its height has slumped to just nine feet. A quake on a fault located closer to the island could cause the same kind of devastating soil liquefaction seen that year in the Marina district. To prevent disaster, a big chunk of that $1.2 billion dollars will be spent on a 50-foot zone of seismic reinforcements, including 35-foot cement stabilizing columns to be driven into the earth all around the island's perimeter. And finally, it wasn't a coincidence that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger chose Treasure Island as the site to sign California’s landmark anti-global warming bill late last year. If the inconvenient truth of rising sea levels is not brought under control, living on Treasure Island will mean investing in a pair of hip waders—at best.

The developers are betting half a billion dollars that the plan will succeed in spite of these risks. They anticipate a pay-off of $370 million in profits by 2022. San Francisco, on the other hand, is operating on faith—hoping, praying and crossing its collective fingers that this plan, arguably the most ambitious since the building of Treasure Island over 70 years ago, will prove successful. The computer-generated renderings of the project—realized by the San Francisco office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill—do look amazing. That island looks like the future.

For all the uncertainties, problems yet to be revealed, and the many nits that will be picked with this ongoing enterprise, the one truth is that this is an incredibly exciting phase in the history of the Bay Area. It seems like we're a long way from the Junior Chamber of Commerce's half-baked idea for an airport back in 1931—but then again, perhaps not. After all, the essential characteristics of San Francisco over the decades are undoubtedly metamorphosis and mutation. The changes coming to Treasure Island are as inevitable as the earthquakes and fires, the conflicting cultural forces and violent economic trends which have unsystematically edited, erased and rewritten our city since its birth 170 years ago. Will the Treasure Island project succeed? Well, the future is not really my area, but I do know this: the result will be interesting, and I don't think any of us can wait to find out what happens next in San Francisco's newest neighborhood.

Postscript - 7.14.2010

The details of the multimillion-dollar land swap between The City and the Navy for Treasure Island have been hammered out, setting the stage for development at the Bay island to move forward. The city of San Francisco will shell out $55 million over 10 years to the Navy for ownership of Treasure Island. The project, which will take 10 to 20 years to finish, will include 6,000 residences, three hotels, a marina, a commercial town center and nearly 300 acres of parks and open space. The project is hoped to create the “most ecologically sustainable community in the world.”

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner.

Richard Miller delights in San Francisco stories: digging them up, researching the bejeezus out of them, and retelling them. A California native with two decades of San Francisco under his belt, Miller launched his popular Sparkletack podcast to share his love for the fun, fascinating and occasionally bizarre tales of the city. Delivered with enthusiasm and a dash of wry humor, they've attracted a rapidly expanding collection of expats and San Franciscophiles from around the world."

Treasure Island Timeline

1872 Emperor Norton demands bridge to Oakland
1879 Robert Louis Stevenson arrives in San Francisco
1898 Naval Training Station established on Yerba Buena Island
1929 The Great Depression
1931 San Francisco Junior Chamber of Commerce plans airport
1932 Election of Franklin D. Roosevelt
1/5/33 Golden Gate Bridge begun
7/9/33 San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge begun
1933 Joseph Dixon suggests a World's Fair to celebrate bridges
1934 Yerba Buena Shoals selected as site for World's Fair and future airport
1935 Works Progress Administration launched
2/11/36 Army Corp of Engineers begin work on Treasure Island
11/12/36 San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opens
5/27/37 Golden Gate Bridge opens
8/24/37 Treasure Island construction complete
1/39 Flying Clippers begin to fly out of Treasure Island
2/19/39 Golden Gate International Exposition opens
10/29/39 Golden Gate International Exposition closes
5/25/40 Golden Gate International Exposition reopens
9/29/40 Golden Gate International Exposition closes for good
2/28/41 Navy signs lease with San Francisco forming "Naval Station Treasure Island"
4/1/41 Navy seizes Treasure Island
12/7/41 Word War II begins with attack on Pearl Harbour
8/15/45 Word War II ends; V-J Day riots in San Francisco
1946 Flying Clipper service ends
1993 Naval Station Treasure Island slated for closure
5/8/97 Naval Station Treasure Island decommissioned
11/30/97 San Francisco takes formal control of island, Navy still legal owner
2006 Redevelopment plan for island approved
2007 Noise Pop & Another Planet produce the Inaugural Treasure Island Music Festival
2008(?) Treasure Island finally "conveyed" to San Francisco
2013(?) First residents move onto redeveloped island
2022(?) Treasure Island Redevelopment Project complete