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Fort Point in San Francisco

A view of the Golden Gate Bridge on a foggy day

The Golden Gate City has more than its fair share of historical landmarks, and while residents of the apartments in Rincon Center could likely tell you all about places like Alcatraz and Coit Tower, they might have fewer details to share with you about lesser-known (but no less amazing) places like Fort Point, the so-called “Pride of the Pacific,” and former defensive hub for the city of San Francisco:

“From its vantage point overlooking the spectacular Golden Gate, Fort Point defended the San Francisco Bay following California's Gold Rush through World War II. Its beautifully arched casemates display the art of 3rd system brick masonry and interacts gracefully with the Golden Gate Bridge.”

There’s a wealth of history to be explored here, dating all the way back to the Civil War, and today, we’re going to be taking a look back at the intriguing tale of Fort Point, along with how the site has evolved to this day — from an integral San Francisco fortification to a lovely park.

The History of Fort Point

Fort Point was first constructed 1861, part of a plan to protect the San Francisco bay during the height of the gold rush, and defend important commercial and military interests in this part of California. It never saw battle, coincidentally, and started to deteriorate in the years afterwards, until a series of renovations saw it converted into barracks for various military purposes. It was set for demolition in the 1930s, when construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge, but was spared thanks to its historical significance. As more and more realized what a landmark the Fort had become, it finally became a National Historic Site in 1970.

Fort Point in the Present Day

Nowadays, Fort Point serves as a park and historical site, and as such, one of the biggest attractions in visiting the area are the various tours and educational programming available at the fort. You could, for instance, just grab a pamphlet on you way in and enjoy a self-guided tour all on your lonesome. More riveting, though, would be a fully-guided tour with one of the park staff, so you can gain a better understanding of the Fort, including “the Fort's unique architecture, the defenses of the Golden Gate, and lots more.” These generally last about thirty minutes and will grant you a great overview of Fort Point.

During your visit to Fort Point, you might well stumble across some of the educational videos that offer an even deeper glimpse into the Fort’s backstory, such as the “Guardians of the Golden Gate,” playing in the Fort Bookstore and covering more of the Fort’s history, or “Building the Golden Gate Bridge,” which delves into the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, complete with original footage taken back when Golden Gate was being built. Additionally, if you plan a visit at the right time of year, you might be able to catch one of the special, seasonal events that occasionally take place, like the Pie Crabbing demos:

“Join the Fort Point Rangers to learn more about some of the Fort's more salty visitors! Meet at the entrance of the Warming Hut to learn the secrets of capturing San Francisco's most elusive crustaceans during this hands-on program.”

Then there are special night views of the Fort, courtesy of the Fort Point Candlelight Tours:

“Join a Fort Point ranger for a tour in a different light! Along the way, you'll be transported to the momentous era of the 1800's, experiencing first-hand the tales and valiant stories that grace the halls of this unwavering guardian, watching diligently over the treasured Golden Gate.”

These events aren’t always on the calendar, though, so you’ll have to check in advance to find out when these unique activities are going down and reserve your spot at the proverbial dance. If you have little ones, though, you can take comfort in the fact that Fort Point almost always has something intriguing for the youngsters to experience, like “Sensible Habitats,” which introduces children to the various plant and animal species around the Fort. Other educational programs include:

  • Point of Inquiry
  • Behind the Bricks
  • Nature Detectives
  • Parks as Classrooms

And on top of all that, your kids can always grab a copy of the Junior Ranger guide and learn about how to participate in the Junior Ranger Program, which encourages them to get involved with learning about parklands like Fort Point the many natural wonders of the San Francisco area. Kids aren’t the only ones who can get involved, mind you; Fort Point and other great San Francisco parks also have a volunteer programs for any interested adults:

“You can learn new skills, teach others and stay active and involved. Volunteers at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Muir Woods National Monument, and Fort Point National Historic Site help present the diverse resources of one of America's most popular National Parks to today's visitors.”

And even if you aren’t keen on volunteering, the Fort is still a great place to come visit. Fort Point is open from Friday to Sunday, 10:00AM to 5:00PM, so you can plan on making it a riveting weekend outing. In case you’re wondering where to go, the address is as follows:

Fort Point National Historic Site, Building 201, Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA 94123

Be sure to pay a visit to the bookstore on your visit to pick up a few cool souvenirs and hopefully, you’ll be able to take some great photos of the views of the bridge from the Fort.

One of the Many Wonders of the Apartments in Rincon Center

Part of the thrill of living in San Francisco’s heart is learning more and more about the unique cultural and history that have made the Bay Area such a success. Wonders abound near The Towers at Rincon, so if you’re looking for a community that brings all the best that the city has to offer, you’ll feel right at home here. Check it out, and prepare for a life and the Bay that few others can rival.