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Fort Point

Completed just before the American Civil War, this fort defended the Bay against hostile warships.

TravelCurious Tip

Rangers sometimes demonstrate how to catch crabs from the pier. Even if you don’t manage to catch one, you have to try the Dungeness crab while you’re in SF

Pass the Parcel

Fort Point is a formidable seacoast fortification found on the southern side of the Golden Gate. The US army built it before the American Civil War to defend San Francisco from any hostile warships. However, the site was recognised for its strategic importance far earlier than that in 1769 when the Spanish fortified it to rebuff any opportunistic British or Russian vessels (and there were a few).


When the Mexicans took their independence from the Spanish, they took California and Fort Point too. But not for long: soon the US and the Mexicans were at war and, following the US victory in 1848, California was annexed and became a US state. The 1849 Gold Rush caused the area to be rapidly settled, an the US Army Corps of Engineers got to work on Fort Point in 1853. General Joseph K. Mansfield believed that “this point as the key to the whole Pacific Coast… and it should receive untiring exertions.”


Fort Point never actually saw action during the Civil War. It came close when the Confederate warship CSS Shenandoah set the course to attack San Francisco, but en route the captain discovered that the war had already ended months ago.


It’s been a long time since Fort Point was considered of military importance; instead, it now offers one of the most astonishing views of the Golden Gate Bridge to be had. Beyond that, you can check in for candlelit evening events, cannon drills, and annual Civil War reenactments. The fort has rightly been preserved for its historic value, and as a fine example of the mason’s art.

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