Prior to the island's construction by the United States government, "Yerba Buena Shoals" of rock north of the transbay island had less than 27 ft (8.2 m) clearance and were a shipping hazard. The 400-acre (1.6 km2) island was constructed by emplacing 287,000 short tons (260,000 t) of quarried rock in the shoals for the island/causeway perimeter rock walls (a freshwater reservoir was quarried in the rock of Yerba Buena Island). Approximately 23 feet (7.0 m) of dredged bay sand filled the interior, was mitigated from salt, and then 50,000 cubic yards (38,000 m3) topsoil was used for planting 4,000 trees, 70,000 shrubs, and 700,000 flowering plants. Facility construction had begun by March 4, 1937, when two hangars were being built.
World's Fair montage with tower
World's Fair films (YouTube)
On February 18, 1939, the 'Magic City' opened with a "walled city" of several fair ground courts: a central Court of Honor, a Court of the East, a Port of Trade Winds on the south and on the north: a Court of Pacifica, a 12,000-car parking lot, and the adjacent National Building, the $1.5M Federal Building, the Hall of Western States, the $800K administration building, various exhibit halls for industries (e.g., "Machinery, Science, and Vacationland"), and two 335-by-78-foot (102 m × 24 m) hangars planned for post-exposition use by Pan Am flying boats (e.g., the China Clipper through 1944) using the Port of Trade Winds Harbor later referred to as Clipper Cove between the two islands. In addition to Building 2 (Hangar 2) and Building 3 (Hangar 3), remaining exposition buildings include Building 1 (Streamline Moderne architecture) intended after the expo as the Pan American World Airways terminal. The expo's Magic Carpet Great Lawn also remains.)
A couplet from the song "Lydia the Tattooed Lady", in the Marx Brothers' 1939 film, At The Circus, reads "Here is Grover Whalen unveilin' the Trylon/Over on the West Coast we have Treasure Island", citing, in the Trylon and Treasure Island, two prominent features of international civic events happening that year (as the 1939 New York World's Fair vied for tourist patrons with the Golden Gate International Expo).
Headquarters Building at US Naval Station Treasure Island
Treasure Island was originally intended to become a second airport for San Francisco, augmenting the existing San Francisco Municipal Airport, now SFO. But with war looming, the Navy moved in.
Naval Station (NAVSTA) Treasure Island began under a 1941 war lease as a United States Navy "reception center". On April 17, 1942, the U.S. Navy cut short an ownership dispute with the city by seizing the island. The Navy eventually compensated the city with $10 million in improvements to the existing airport, including reclaiming 93 acres of land, and postwar ownership of all military improvements. (A widely cited Navy report gave rise to the urban legend that the Navy swapped the island for land on which the city then built SFO. In fact, the airport has been operating in its current location since 1927.)
NAVSTA Treasure Island had a Naval Auxiliary Air Facility to support helicopters, fixed wing planes, seaplanes, blimps, dirigibles and airships and a U.S.Navy/USMC electronics school. During World War II over 12,000 men a day were processed here for Pacific area assignments, and thousands more were processed for separation in the aftermath of the war. The psychiatric ward of the naval base at Treasure Island was used to study and experiment on naval sailors who were being discharged for being homosexual.
Since before the '50s, and through the '90s (throughout both Korean & Vietnam wars) the U.S. Navy's Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC) – Treasure Island, was operational. Multiple Maintenance Skills were part of the curriculum there, including training of Electronic Technicians (ET) in Radiation and Detection equipment (RADIAC), Communications & Radar systems, as well as training of Shipfitter and Damage Control Technicians, which also covered Nuclear Biological & Chemical (NBC) Warfare Decontamination (DECON) techniques. In 1972 a new U.S. Navy Rate consisting of the old Shipfitter and Damage Control Technician ratings was created. This New U.S. Navy Rate was Hull Maintenance Technician (HT). The Navy later realized that Damage Control is such a large responsibility, it needed a rating specifically tasked with those duties, hence the reemergence of the Damage Controlman Rating in 1988.
The station was identified by the 1991 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, and NAVSTA Treasure Island closed in 1997. Remaining military structures included Bldg. 600 @ 750 Avenue M (former Naval Firefighting School, now SFFD's Treasure Island Training Facility & Temporary SFFD Fire Station 48), Bldg. 157 (Navy Fire station 2 built circa 1942 wood frame building which lacks modern earthquake Seismic retrofit) @ 849 Avenue D (SFFD Station 48 closed March 7, 2014 due to health hazards & excessive deferred maintenance), and the 20,000 sq ft (1,900 m2) Bldg. 180 by US Naval Station Way & California Ave (now a winery).
Treasure Island beyond Yerba Buena Island's rooftops and trees, which obscure the causeway and marina. The large curved white building (right of center) is the Administration Building (Building 1) which housed the island's museum 1976–97 (the museum association's offices returned in 2008.)
By December 2010, Navy contractors had removed 16,000 cubic yards (12,000 m3) of contaminated dirt from the site, "some with radiation levels 400 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s human exposure limits for topsoil." The contaminated dirt is to be replaced by dirt removed during construction of the fourth Caldecott Tunnel bore. In April 2013, caesium-137 levels three times higher than previously[when?] recorded were found (the island hosted "radioactive ships from Bikini Atoll atomic tests and [was] a major education center training personnel for nuclear war"—the USS Pandemonium (PCDC-1) mockup had begun nuclear training in 1957.
SFUSD previously operated Treasure Island K-8 School. In Spring 2004 the SFUSD board voted to close the middle school portion but keep the elementary school in operation. In its final semester of operation it had 95 students. In December 2004 the district voted to close altogether effective the beginning of 2005. Initially the Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative fought to save the school, but after discipline and staffing issues occurred in 2004, the group stopped its efforts. Heather Knight of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that year "Even people who had fought to save the school earlier this year now admit it's no longer worth saving."
The main waterlines under the causeway are backed up by yellow above-ground emergency manifolds to which blue six-inch (150 mm) diameter hose can be connected from a large hose spool affixed to a San Francisco Public Utilities Commission / SF Water Dept' mobile truck dispatched from the SFWD Newcomb Avenue Yard after an earthquake, provided the Bay Bridge from SF to Treasure Island remains operational.
Katie Canales (December 16, 2019). "San Francisco's housing market is so dire that the city's radioactive Treasure Island is finally getting a $6 billion makeover. Meet the residents who have lived on it for years". Business Insider.
^ abcdMcGloin, John Bernard. "Symphonies in Steel: Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate". The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco (SFmuseum.net). Retrieved October 22, 2013. The Secretary of War approved the request that its execution be undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers. While a group of such specialists applied their talents to the reclamation of the 'Yerba Buena Shoals', the day-by-day details were efficiently cared for by Colonel Fred Butler, U.S.A., who had years of army engineering experience behind him at this time. The fill to form Treasure Island was obtained by dredging operations; the island covered an area of 400 acres [160 ha], 5,520 feet [1,680 m] long by 3,410 feet [1,040 m] wide.
^ ab"Statewide Database". UC Regents. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
^"California's 12th Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC.
^ ab"94130 Zip Code (San Francisco, California) Profile: homes, apartments, schools, population, income, averages, housing, demographics, location, statistics, sex offenders, residents and real estate info". City-data.com. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
^ abcWorkers of the Federal Writers’ Project (1938). "Trail Ends for '39ers". Almanac for Thirty-Niners. San Francisco Works Progress Administration – via SFmuseum.net.
^James, Jack; Weller, Earle Vonard (1941). Treasure island, "The Magic City," 1939-1940; The Story of the Golden Gate International Exposition. Pisani printing and publishing company. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
^Tim in San Mateo (October 2, 2002). "San Francisco Bomb Plot". Yahoo! Groups. Self-published via Yahoo!. Retrieved October 25, 2013.[unreliable source]
^ ab"3903rd Radar Bomb Scoring Group" (Web Bulletin Board). KoreanWar.org. Retrieved March 14, 2013. Detachment 13 Radar Bomb Scoring Group, Threaure Island, San Francisco ... 2nd Lt. Robert F.(?) Schaller who was in our outfit from about '52 th '53 ... 3903 RBS, Treas Island, SF 1948-52...Chief Phillip Martin was assigned to this unit from 1948–1952. The unit was commanded by a Major Posey.
^Martin, Jack S. (September 23, 1949). Report of Investigation: Project Grudge (Special Inquiry). Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base: USAF Office of Special Investigations. Retrieved October 26, 2013. On 14 September 1949, Captain Howard A. Carlson,12456-A/ Detachment Commander, Detachment B, 3903 Radar Bomb Scoring Squadron, Treasure Island, San Francisco, California, was interviewed and stated that on 1 August 1949, two radar testing devices were released; one at approximately 1000 hours, PST, and another at 1400 hours, PST.
^ ab"Home". Treasure Island Museum Association. Retrieved July 20, 2008.
^"The Museum and Its Collection". Treasure Island Museum Association. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
^"'Mythbusters' Tackles Titanic Debate". CBS News. October 9, 2012. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
^Marek, Grant (September 28, 2019). "How Treasure Island found its way into the most iconic Indiana Jones film". SFGate. Retrieved July 22, 2020.
^Kane, Will (June 8, 2011). "S.F. approves Treasure Island plan". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
^"Treasure Island: Development Project". Treasure Island Development Authority. Retrieved October 11, 2012.
^"Power Outages On Treasure Island In San Francisco". Power Outages On Treasure Island In San Francisco.
^Fagone and Dizikes (September 10, 2019). "Treasure Island ferry terminal breaks ground in anticipation of 8,000 new SF homes". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
^Matt Smith (August 17, 2012). "Radiation Contamination on Treasure Island More Widespread Than Reported". The Bay Citizen.
^Cuff, Denis (November 13, 2013). "Caldecott Tunnel forth bore to ease traffic backups during reverse commute". Mercury News. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
^Smith, Matt; Mierskowski, Katherine (April 12, 2013). "Soil tests find cesium, linked to cancer risk, up to 3 times higher than previously acknowledged". The Bay Citizen. Retrieved October 26, 2013. Until the early 1990s, the Navy operated atomic warfare training academies on Treasure Island, using instruction materials and devices that included radioactive plutonium, cesium, tritium, cadmium, strontium, krypton and cobalt. These supplies were stored at various locations around the former base, including supply depots, classrooms and vaults, and in and around a mocked-up atomic warfare training ship—the USS Pandemonium.
^The Sandusky Register on. Newspapers.com (1957-03-21). Retrieved on 2014-05-10.
^Ron Russell (May 24, 2006). "Toxic Acres: The fill below Treasure Island is filled with dangerous toxins left by the Navy". SF Weekly. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
^Ashley Bates, "Radioactive Isle." East Bay Express, September 9, 2012