Field trip

The restoration of San Francisco's Crissy Field is good news for wildlife, plantlife and all who study them

The San Francisco shoreline around Fort Point, where the Bay meets the Pacific Ocean, is a popular place for an afternoon out. The views from here are spectacular: the village of Sausalito on the horizon, the island of Alcatraz over to the east, and the Golden Gate Bridge a few hundred yards away. There are picnic areas by the water, and a nature reserve among the marshes and sand dunes. Surprisingly, though, this area is one of the city's newest attractions.

The Bay area was occupied by the Ohlone Indians for several thousand years before the Spanish arrived to establish their most northerly New World colony in 1776. These European explorers built a fort on the high ground just above Crissy Field and established their presidio (a Spanish militray post); the area has been known by this name ever since.

Troops were stationed here for the next 200 years. Mexican soldiers gained control after independence from Spain, but were defeated in their turn by American troops. Throughout this period, the land immediately below the fortress, part sand dunes, part marshland, was used as a supply centre for goods arriving by sea and, later, by air.

In 1915, the marsh was filled in as the site prepared to host the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a celebration of the city's recovery from the earthquake and fire of 1906. At one end a racetrack was built, and when the exhibition closed, it was used as a departure point for aircraft trials. The test pilots were led by Major Dana H Crissy, whose plane crashed on the first day of the trials; when the landing strip officially became an airfield in 1921 it was renamed in his memory.

Crissy Field is not intended to be a historical exhibit, although there are a few traces of the more recent past: both the Warming Hut café and the Field Center were once army buildings.

The restoration of Crissy Field to its natural state began in 1998, with a donation from the Haas family, local philanthropists. The aim has been to restore the tidal marsh and recreate the wetland habitat that once covered this coast. The marsh channel, connecting the Crissy Field marsh with the Pacific Ocean, was opened up in 1999, and since then the number and variety of birds seen there has increased dramatically.

Further information from The Crissy Field Center (001 415 561 7690; www.crissyfield.org) and National Park Service (001 415 561 4323; www.nps.gov/prsf/index.htm)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future