Magazine article Sunset

A Look Back at Treasure Island; Remnants of 1939's Great Fair, Ship Traffic Tours, "Peace in the Pacific."

Magazine article Sunset

A Look Back at Treasure Island; Remnants of 1939's Great Fair, Ship Traffic Tours, "Peace in the Pacific."

Article excerpt

A look back at Treasure Island

Imagine the cost and logistics of building an island in San Francisco Bay today. The creation of Treasure Island--a herculean task that took two years (1936-37), $3,799,800, and 400 acres of shoals near Yerba Buena Island a half-century ago-- would be financially and environmentally unthinkable in 1986.

It was an ambitious undertaking for an equally ambitious fair, the grandiose 1939-40 Golden Gate International Exposition, held to commemorate two projects some said couldn't be done--building the Golden Gate and Bay bridges.

In new exhibits at the Treasure Island museum, you can learn more about the fair as well as see displays on the role of the Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy in the Pacific. Fronting the museum, Avenue of Palms is an exposition legacy.

Renowned architects such as Timothy Pflueger and Arthur Brown, Jr., designed fair structures that were art deco whimsies denoting the "Pacific Empire.' Most, including a 400-foot-tall Tower of the Sun, are gone, but you'll see stunning photographs of them.

The museum, originally a fair building, also served as an airport terminal for the amphibious China Clipper, which flew out of Treasure Island from 1939 through 1946. The plane carried 12 passengers (at $1,000 each) and tons of mail on weekly trans-Pacific flights (during World War II, its route ended in Hawaii). A model of the plane dominates a permanent exhibit on the brief but romantic China Clipper service.

Now through May, "Peace in the Pacific,' a hundred-item display, portrays WW II struggles in the Pacific Theater. …

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