Military Traditions

December 11, 2018 By Julie Turner

Local Planner: Fort Point National Historic Site

Fort Point, the historic fort nestled underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, was planned for demolition in the 1930s when bridge planners began working on the San Francisco Bay expanse. Originally built during the Gold Rush between 1853 and 1861 by the U.S. Army Engineers, Fort Point is one of a system of forts designed to protect the San Francisco Bay.

The fort has the distinction of being designed and built in the Army’s Third System style of military architecture. While it’s the only Third System fort west of the Mississippi River, other harbor defenses such as Sumter, Pulaski, Monroe, Pickens, Morgan and Jackson showcase the design. These large walled forts are known for structural durability backed by intense armament and firepower.

Unlike other Third-System forts, which saw widespread action during the Civil War, Fort Point never saw battle. In the years after the Civil War, the site was used as an army barracks, a planned detention barracks and post to guard the Bay form a submarine attack during World War II.

Recognizing the architectural value of the fort, chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge Joseph Strauss halted plans for demolition of the fort and created a special arch, which allowed the bridge to span Fort Point.

On October 16, 1970, Fort Point became a National Historic Site and is open to visitors. Get information about planning your visit and guided tours. The exterior is accessible to visitors seven days a week with the full site open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m.  to 5 p.m. The site is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.


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