Fort Point to Golden Gate Bridge

The defense of the Golden Gate, which we know today as Fort Point, was initially on the bluffs above, built by the Spanish as Castle de San Joaquin in 1793. As years passed and foreign threats turned from sea to land, it fell into disuse and was largely washed away before the hill on which it rested was quarried for Fort Point in the 1850’s and further cut away for the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930’s. All that survive of this original fortification are several of the cannon, which were cast in Peru a century earlier and are among oldest cannon in US, now guarding entrance to Presidio Officer’s Club.

Presidio San Jaooquin Battery Alcatraz Defenses

The fortress at Fort Point, like the original battery at Black Point, reflected the fear that California could fall to the Confederacy if war came. With the value of gold and other California wealth such as cattle and lumber, it was imperative that the wealth be available to finance the factories of the industrial North in the looming struggle with the South. By the time of construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point had long outlasted its defense role and was slated for destruction. Engineers instead preserved the old fort by spanning it with a graceful steel arch.

Fort Scott Tennis Boy Scouts Maria Concepcion Romanov Fort Scott Parade Ground

Although my Fort Scott tennis venue was just behind the original Spanish fort on bluffs, I came to know and associate Fort Point as turnaround point of Marina and Presidio bike rides, most fondly recalled from first days with PJ and having continued ever since. Now with Tristan working at Presidio Sports Basement when he’s home and a restored Presidio Marina, we have even more reason to frequent the wonderful route to the Fort.

Fort Point North Fort Point East Fort Point West

As for the bridge that towers above and is gracefully omnipresent spanning of the Bay on bikes or runs now, I recall it first from entries to Bay Area after cross country drives in 1965 and 1968. Each marked my two moves West to San Francisco, home now and likely forever. I recall PJ’s wonderful description of increasing openness and freedom with each mile she traveled West when also moving to San Francisco after college.

For me that openness and freedom always will be symbolized by the expanse of the Bay, majesty of Mt. Tam and elegance of bridge spanning Golden Gate, all with backdrop of setting sun as I caught first glimpse from top of American Canyon and on down I 80 in East Bay. If I recall, 1968 even brought perfect accompaniment as strains of John Phillip’s anthem sung by friend Scott McKenzie played on the car radio… ‘ When you come to San Francisco…’

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