Fort Mason – San Francisco Bay

Living near the waters of the Bay crisscrossing via the Golden Gate Bridge for decades can sometimes cause a sort of blindness.

Yesterday I was early for lunch at Green’s Restaurant located at Fort Mason. I once had an office at Fort Mason and was familiar with all the roads, buildings and landscape of this national treasure. And I often pass Fort Mason coming or going downtown or to the Opera and Symphony. But is has been years since I stopped to look at the transformation.

Once known during World War II as San Francisco Port of Embarkation, US Army, it was the center of shipping operations for all materials and troops for Asia. The port is closest to the Golden Gate Bridge and the open seas of the Pacific Ocean. The massive buildings are being renovated for use as part of the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, a home for myriad of non-profit arts organizations – San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Artists Gallery, Blue Bear School of Music, City College of San Francisco Art Campus, The Interval, Greens Restaurant, Readers Bookstore, Magic Theatre, the Mexican Museum, Embark Gallery, Off the Grid, BATS ImprovSan Francisco Children’s Art Center, Museo ItaloAmericano,  Flax art & design, California Lawyers for the Arts and other organizations connected to arts and culture.[16] The newest space is Gallery 308, whose inaugural exhibition was Janet Cardiff’s The Forty Part Motet (November 14, 2015 – January 18, 2016), followed by Sophie Calle’s Missing (June 22, 2017 – August 20, 2017). In the fall of 2017, the San Francisco Art Institute will open a graduate program campus, housed in FMCAC’s historic Herbst Pavilion.

But it is the magical location at the water’s edge that I had forgotten. The substantial, industrial buildings framing views to the bay and to hills north, the water now filled with sail boats. And this day the bay is serene and placid.IMG_2882.jpg

Fort Mason, as part of the National Park Service, has allowed space to remember. San Francisco is a young city, and the bay was once an important part of the transportation of development. To that end the rear end of a packet boat from the 1850’s is retained under a protective wooden porch at the end of the parking areas. Oddly perched on its makeshift piers, surrounded by a small picket fence, the Galilea is propped into place to tell a small tale of change in the bay. The rest of the boat has been retained in pieces in other museums. This is way young cultures preserve their findings.


And then there are remarkable sights, like the preserved double masted sloop, cutter, ketch, yawl, schooner, or cat or whatever the designation, I have no idea. But I do know that it can still sail because it is out there in the water, a true representation of the past.



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On the planet in California

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