08 November 2016

San Francisco, from Balboa Park to the Mission District via Billy Goat Hill: 8 November 2016

This was a ramble from Balboa Park to the Mission District. The route I chose went through the grounds of City College of San Francisco, through the Sunnyside District, and also Sunnyside Playground. Then it was into the Glen Park Neighborhood and through Walter Haas Park and Billy Goat Hill. After which, we rambled through the southern portion of Noe Valley. We finished the ramble in the Mission District, with a lunch stop at La Taqueria.

This is a view from Billy Goat Hill Park. The picture is looking east; Bernal Heights Park is straight ahead. 

The distance traveled was approximately 4.6 miles (7.4 kilometers). Mile markers are displayed on the GPS-generated track. The cumulative elevation gain was about 653 feet (199 meters). 

A view from the campus of City College of San Francisco

Here is another view from the campus of City College of San Francisco. Straight ahead on the left is Mount Davidson; at 928 feet (283 meters), Mount Davidson is the tallest natural point in San Francisco. If you look closely, you can see the very top of the concrete cross, which is located on the summit of Mount DavidsonThe view is looking north. 


Heading down Mangels Avenue. On the right side of the photo is part of John McLaren Park, the second-largest park in San Francisco. Golden Gate Park is the largest park. The view is looking east. 

Shanghai Dumpling King is situated on Monterey Boulevard. The view is looking north. 

This house is located at 38 Lippard Avenue. The view is looking west. 


This house is located at 508 Congo Street. The view is looking east. 

There are still a few dirt roads in San Francisco; this is one of them. Ohlone Way is located between Surrey Street and Sussex Street. The view is looking north. 


A view from Billy Goat Hill. Straight ahead is Potrero Hill. Visible on the right at approximately 40 miles in the distance, and at an elevation of 3,849 feet (1,173 meters), is the summit of Mount Diablo. The view is looking east. 

This is a six image panoramic photo taken from Billy Goat Hill. Downtown San Francisco is straight ahead. The view is looking northeast. 


In Billy Goat Hill Park. 

 Noe Valley Cleaners is now out of business. The location is 499 29th Street in the Noe Valley District. 

This is St. Paul's Catholic Church. The building was constructed in 1897; it is located on Valley Street in the Mission District. 

This house is located at 180 Valley Street. 

A graph of the elevation changes encountered during the walk. 

"A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lange 

"Photography has not changed since its origin except in its technical aspects, which for me are not important." Henri Carter-Bresson

"There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." Ansel Adams

"The important thing is not the camera but the eye." Alfred Eisenstaedt


My first San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that I posted between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view the 2002 to 2011 photo galleries.

Panasonic GX7 camera body mounted with an Olympus 17mm lens was used to take these photographs.

Question or comment? I may be reached at neil@mishalov.com

03 November 2016

Gun Battery Dynamite, Gun Battery Chamberlin, and Nike Missile launching site SF-89L, are located within the Presidio of San Francisco: 3 & 5 November 2016


Battery Chamberlin

This gun battery became operational in 1904; it originally had four 6-inch disappearing guns. The weapon got the name 'disappearing' from its innovative design; the gun is mounted on a carriage that lowers while being loaded to protect it from attackers. Each gun could shoot two rounds a minute up to a range of nine miles; it took about 25 soldiers to man each gun. Battery Chamberlin was the last coastal fortification to be constructed at Fort Winfield Scott, and it was one of 15 Endicott gun batteries sited at the Presidio. 

The U.S. entry into World War I resulted in a widespread removal of large caliber United States coastal defense guns for service in Europe. In 1917, the four guns of Battery Chamberlin were sent to Europe for use in France. The four guns were returned to the United States in 1919. Three guns were ordered scrapped, and the fourth gun was sent to Benicia Arsenal, California. In 1920, after being unarmed for three years, Battery Chamberlin received two six-inch non-disappearing guns. These two guns were manned through World War II. Both six-inch guns were removed in 1948 when the Coast Artillery Corps was called out of service.

Battery Chamberlin today has a single 6-inch disappearing gun on display. The display gun was originally emplaced in Brooklyn, New York, at Battery Livingston in Fort Hamilton. The weapon was removed from Fort Hamilton and remounted in Battery Schofield at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. The gun was later given to the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian eventually donated the weapon in 1977 to the Golden Gate Recreation Area
The gun was placed at Battery Chamberlin for public viewing. The gun is very similar to the original guns at Battery Chamberlin. This is the only remaining disappearing gun on the West Coast. There is a small museum located in one of Battery Chamberlin's ammunition magazines. The disappearing 6-inch gun at Battery Chamberlin is demonstrated to the public on the first full weekend of the month, from 11 am to 3 pm. Admission is free.

Click on an image to view the full-size photograph
 NOW This 6-inch disappearing gun is usually covered with tarpaulins to protect it from the weather. This is the first Saturday of the month, and a docent has just removed the tarpaulins to display the gun to the public.

THEN This picture was taken in 1915. It shows a test firing of one of the four original 6-inch disappearing guns installed at Battery Chamberlin


This Google Earth map shows the route taken through the Presidio on 3 November when I visited Battery Chamberlin and Battery Dynamite. 


Battery Chamberlin's disappearing 6-inch gun as seen on a foggy Saturday morning. 


Battery Chamberlin's disappearing 6-inch gun with a view of the gun's carriage. 


This is the muzzle of the six-inch gun. The following information is located on the muzzle: This 6-inch gun is serial #9. The gun weighs 20,845 pounds. It is a 1905 model, and the gun was manufactured in 1908 at Watervliet Arsenal, New York. 


The western portion of Battery Chamberlin. The mouth of San Francisco Bay is visible in the distance. The view is looking west. 


The eastern section of Battery Chamberlin. The Marin Headlands are visible in the distance. The view is looking north. 


A view from Baker Beach looking north. 


THEN. Two six-inch, non-disappearing guns were installed at Battery Chamberlin in 1920. The guns were operational through 1946. This picture was taken circa 1945. 


NOW. This is a view of the same gun emplacement. 


Another view from Baker Beach. The ocean water in the Bay Area is cold year-round because the currents are coming from the frigid arctic region. 


This is the 'Sand Ladder' trail. It ascends a sand dune from Baker Beach to Lincoln Boulevard. 

Battery Dynamite

This is an unusual gun battery. Against U.S. Army advice, the U.S. Congress authorized its construction. It was built by the Pneumatic Dynamite Company as an experimental Endicott Period coastal gun battery. It consisted of three 15-inch pneumatic powered dynamite guns. Work on the gun battery began on 6 March 1889. The construction consisted of three exposed 50' circular concrete pads for mounting the guns and a separate powerhouse to provide compressed air to power the guns.

The compressed air rapidly forced the explosive shells out of the gun tubes. The explosive used in the shells was dynamite. Dynamite shells could not be used in standard guns because the impact of the propellant firing would trigger the dynamite, and the shells would explode while still in the gun tube. Compressed air pushed the shells out of the gun tube at a lower velocity and with less impact.

With the advent of the Spanish-American War, U.S. military authorities were concerned about the vulnerability of the exposed state of the experimental dynamite gun battery. The battery's three gun emplacements were in plain view of the ocean. Also exposed was the powerhouse built behind the gun emplacements. Therefore, it was recommended that high earthen walls be built around the three guns to make each emplacement position a gun pit. It was also recommended to create a high earthen wall around the powerhouse. The work was approved, and construction began in August 1898. By March 1900, the work was completed, and on 8 June 1900, Battery Dynamite was transferred to the Coast Artillery.

The guns were declared obsolete in 1901, despite the various improvements made to the battery. The three guns were ordered salvaged In 1904. Once disarmed, the large complex at Battery Dynamite underwent many different uses over the course of many decades. The powerhouse continued to produce electricity until it was destroyed in the 1906 earthquakeA new powerhouse was later built in 1910 on the same site, and it provided electric power for the newly designated Fort Winfield Scott army post. By 1919, the artillery fire control switchboard and the Fort Winfield Scott telephone switchboard were also installed in the powerhouse.

In 1911 a fire control station was constructed at the site of Battery Dynamite gun emplacement #1, and by 1940 the fire control station evolved into a Harbor Defense Command Post / Harbor Entrance Control Post for San Francisco Harbor. When the United States was at war in January 1942, it became apparent that the fire control station was too small and vulnerable to air attack. Thus, a new two-story Harbor Defense Command Post / Harbor Entrance Control Post was built during the war and accepted for service in January of 1944. The upper portion contained two concrete and steel pillbox observation stations, one for the Army and one for the Navy. This new command post was built to the left of the old fire control station and in front of Battery Dynamite gun emplacement #2. The underground segment of the command post had sixteen rooms in which to house both Army and Navy personnel.

The site of Battery Dynamite is off-limits to the public, for a good reason. It is a dangerous area to traverse. If unauthorized adults or children had access to the site, it is probable that some adults and children might fall 15 feet or more into the bottom of a concrete gun emplacement. I entered the Battery Dynamite site after I spoke with a National Park Service employee and received approval to inspect the site.
This illustration, drawn in 1895, shows a 15-inch pneumatic dynamite gun at Battery Dynamite. 




This is an aerial view of Battery Dynamite. The gun battery is located behind the enlisted men's barracks at the newly constructed Fort Winfield Scott. The view is looking east. Gun emplacement #1 is on the left. Visible are the earthen walls surrounding the three gun emplacements and the powerhouse, whose roof is visible behind the gun emplacements. 

This is a view looking north from the parade ground at Fort Winfield Scott. Visible are three of the ten enlisted men's barracks which were constructed between 1908 and 1912. The treed area straight ahead behind the barracks was the location of Battery Dynamite. Fort Winfield Scott was established specifically to provide personnel to fire and maintain the many Endicott Period gun batteries built at the Presidio and the surrounding military bases between 1885 and 1912. Fort Winfield Scott was decommissioned in 1948. 

This is a photo of the Battery Dynamite powerhouse. It went into service in 1910, replacing the original powerhouse, which was damaged during the 1906 earthquake. Note the height and width of the concrete walls surrounding the powerhouse. The walls were designed to protect the powerhouse from the potential of enemy fire. 


This is a view of the three Battery Dynamite gun emplacements. The picture was taken before the installation of the earthen traverses and concrete walls, which were built around each gun emplacement. This image is circa 1897. 


This is a photograph of a dynamite gun that was just test-fired. There is no smoke or flames visible because the round that was fired was shot from the gun by pressurized air. You can see the explosive dynamite shell in the air if you look closely. This picture was taken in 1895. 


This is Battery Dynamite gun emplacement #1. In 1911 a fire control station was constructed in gun emplacement #1. The fire control station was placed on top of the large round concrete mounts, installed at the base of the gun emplacement. 


This is Battery Dynamite gun emplacement #2. The entire area of Battery Dynamite is significantly overgrown with plant ground cover. 


This is gun emplacement #3. Note the depth of the gun emplacement and the lack of protection for a person from falling into the concrete gun emplacement. 


Here is a view of the two pillboxes built atop the two-story Harbor Defense Command Post / Harbor Entrance Control Post. This fortification was built during World War II, and it was accepted for service on 8 January 1944. The upper story contains two concrete and steel pillbox observation stations, as seen above, one for use by the Army and one for use by the Navy. This new structure was constructed in front of Battery Dynamite gun emplacement #2. The lower underground portion of the command post has sixteen rooms used to house both Army and Navy post personnel.


This Google Earth map shows the GPS-tracked route I took through the Presidio on 5 November, a foggy Saturday morning. I first visited Battery Chamberlin and then went to the location of Nike Missile Launching Site SF-89L. 


This photograph shows one of the three missile launching pads at SF-89L. The houses in the distance are located in the Richmond District of San Francisco. The mountain on the far left is Mount Sutro. Sited at the summit of Mount Sutro at an elevation of 911 feet (278 meters) is radar tracking site SF-89C. It was designed to guide the missiles towards incoming enemy aircraft. The picture is circa 1958-1960. 


This is one of the three SF-89L hydraulic lifts used to raise the missiles from their underground storage area. 


This is the second of the three hydraulic lifts used to raise missiles from an underground storage area. 


This Google Earth map shows the location of the SF-89L launching site in the Presidio and also the location of the SF-89C radar tracking station on the summit of Mount Sutro. Each Nike Missile site built in the U.S. had a separate launching location and radar tracking location. The distance between the two locations, as seen above, is approximately 2.5 miles. 


To conclude this gallery of photographs, I have chosen this view of Nike Missile Launching Site SF-91L which is located on the southeast side of Angel Island. The photo shows all three launching platforms, each of which can fire four missiles simultaneously, if necessary. The Berkeley Hills are across San Francisco Bay in the background. The view is looking east. The picture was taken sometime between 1955 and 1961. 


"A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera." Dorothea Lange 

"Photography has not changed since its origin except in its technical aspects, which for me are not important." Henri Carter-Bresson

"There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." Ansel Adams

"The important thing is not the camera but the eye." Alfred Eisenstaedt


My first San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that I posted between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view the 2002 to 2011 photo galleries.

Panasonic GX7 camera body mounted with either an Olympus 17mm lens or an Olympus 9mm lens was used to take these photographs.

Question or comment? I may be reached at neil@mishalov.com

24 October 2016

Seacoast Fortifications of San Francisco: 24 October 2016

The Endicott Era of Military Fortifications (1890-1910)
Seacoast defense was a major concern for the United States from its independence until World War II. Before airplanes, America's enemies could only reach her from the sea, making coastal forts an economical alternative to standing armies or a large navy. After the 1940s, it was recognized that fixed fortifications were obsolete and ineffective against aircraft and missiles. However, in previous eras, foreign fleets were a realistic threat, and substantial fortifications were built at key locations, especially protecting major harbors.

In 1885 US President Grover Cleveland appointed a joint army, navy and civilian board, headed by Secretary of War William C. Endicott, known as the Board of Fortifications. The findings of the board illustrated a grim picture of existing defenses in its 1886 report and recommended a massive $127 million construction program of breech loading cannons, mortars, floating batteries, and submarine mines for some 29 locations on the US coastline.

Prior efforts at harbor defense construction had ceased in 1876. Since that time the design and construction of heavy ordnance advanced rapidly, including the development of superior breechloading and longer-ranged cannon, making the US harbor defenses obsolete. In 1883, the Navy had begun a new construction program with an emphasis on offensive rather than defensive warships. These factors combined to create a need for improved coastal defense systems.

The Endicott Board’s recommendations would lead to a large-scale modernization program of harbor and coastal defenses in the United States. This program would lead to the construction of reinforced concrete fortifications and the installation of large caliber breech-loading artillery and mortar batteries. Endicott period projects were not fortresses, but rather a system of well-dispersed emplacements with only a few large guns in each location. The batteries were usually open-topped concrete walls protected by sloped earthworks. Some of the gun batteries featured disappearing guns, which sat protected behind the concrete walls but could be raised to fire. Underwater mines were a critical component of the defense operation, and smaller guns were employed to protect the mine fields from minesweeping vessels. 

Originally established as a Spanish garrison in 1776, the San Francisco Presidio was in continuous use as a military post from 1776 to 1993. The Presidio was used by the U.S. Army for many activities; it was the staging point for Army personnel for all activities in the Pacific Theater until well past WWII. A National Cemetery at the Presidio contains the final resting place for more than 26,000 military personnel who served in American Wars from 1846 onwards. During the latter part of the 20th Century, it was the Headquarters of the U.S. 6th Army.

In 1991 Congress decided to close the post and most of the land was transferred to the National Park Service. There were 15 gun batteries constructed at the Presidio during the Endicott Era. Many of those gun batteries are still standing; they are mostly deserted and forgotten. This photo gallery includes photos of Battery Boutelle, Battery Godfrey, Battery Crosby and Battery Marcus Miller; four of the fifteen gun batteries which were active at the Presidio.

This is a view from the Presidio; it shows the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate Bridge. Battery Boutelle and Battery Marcus Miller are also visible but just barelyClick the image to see the full-size photo.
The total distance traveled during the ramble was approximately 2.4 miles. Mile markers are displayed on the GPS generated track. Click the image to see the full-size map.
This view shows both Battery Boutelle and Battery Marcus Miller. Battery Boutelle is closest to the camera, and Battery Marcus Miller is near the southern terminus of the Golden Gate Bridge. The view is looking North. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
Battery Marcus Miller: Construction of Battery Marcus Miller began in 1891. The battery was commissioned for operation in 1898 after three disappearing 10-inch guns were mounted. The guns had a range of seven miles. The Battery was deactivated in 1918. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
view of the No. 3 gun emplacement at Battery Marcus Miller. These soldiers were assigned to operate this 10-inch disappearing gun. Photograph circa 1910. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
Battery Marcus Miller ThenA test firing of the 10-inch disappearing gun at gun emplacement No. 3. Photograph circa 1910. Click the image to see the full-size photo.


Battery Marcus Miller Now:  A 10-inch disappearing gun emplacement at Battery Marcus MillerClick the image to see the full-size photograph.

Battery Boutelle. This gun emplacement had three 5-inch guns; it became operational in 1901. The Battery was de-commissioned in 1918. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.

The remains of the Pedestal Mount at Gun Emplacement No. 3 at Battery BoutelleClick the image to see the full-size photograph.
Battery Godfrey Then: In 1892 construction began at the Presidio to build Battery Godfrey. The construction crews built reinforced concrete emplacements to mount three 12-inch guns. The work was completed in 1896, and Battery Godfrey was the first Endicott Era battery to be operational in defense of San Francisco Bay. Three Model 1888 breech-loading guns, manufactured at Watervliet Arsenal were installed and were operational from 1896 to 1943 when Battery Godfrey was decommissioned. This photo was taken at Battery Godfrey circa 1910; it shows soldiers at the No. 2 gun emplacement. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
Battery Godfrey Now: Click the image to see the full-size photograph.

This photo was taken at  Battery Godfrey circa 1910. It shows soldiers loading a 700 pound round into the breech of a 12-inch gunClick the image to see the full-size photograph.

Battery Godfrey as seen in 1938: Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
Battery Godfrey Now: Presidio Building No.1648 is visible in the rear. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
Battery Godfrey's Commander's Observation Post. The view is looking South. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.


The Commander's Observation Post is visible. The Gun Plotting Room is behind the observation post. The view is looking NorthClick the image to see the full-size photo.

Baker Beach with the Sea Cliff neighborhood of San Francisco beyond the beach. Lands End is visible in the rear. The view is looking West. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
Battery Crosby. This gun emplacement became operational in 1900; it was de-commissioned in 1943. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.
Battery Crosby ThenThe picture was taken in 1938. Click the image to see the full-size photograph.

Battery CrosbyClick the image to see the full-size photograph.
Leaving Battery Crosby. Click the image to see the full-size photo.
Marshall Beach is visible. 
"A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” Dorothea Lange 

"Photography has not changed since its origin except in its technical aspects, which for me are not important." Henri Carter-Bresson

"There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer." Ansel Adams

"The important thing is not the camera but the eye." Alfred Eisenstaedt


The first San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that were posted between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view the 2002 to 2011 photo galleries.

Panasonic GX7 camera body mounted with a wide-angle Olympus 9mm lens was used to take these photographs.

Question or comment? I may be reached at neil@mishalov.com