Monday, December 21, 2015

Fort Point & the Golden Gate

The Golden Gate viewed from above Fort Point
toward the Marin Headlands c. 1890

Original photograph attribute to the studio of Taber - but, who knows who actually shot the image
Hand-tinted restoration by Bennett Hall

Fort Point was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1853 and 1861 
to prevent entrance of a hostile fleet into San Francisco Bay during the Civil War. 
Between 1933 and 1937 the Fort was used as a base of operations for the 
construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Castillo de San Joaquin was the original facility that later became Fort Point.  As with Fort Point,
it was erected to guard the mouth of the Bay from intruders.  On July 1, 1846, a critical event occurred with the timing of the raising of the Stars and Stripes in Monterey and later elsewhere over California, prior to statehood. More to follow on this nuance....


From Wikipedia:
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began work on Fort Point in 1853. Plans specified that the lowest tier of artillery be as close as possible to water level so cannonballs could ricochet across the water's surface to hit enemy ships at the water-line.[3] Workers blasted the 90-foot (27 m) cliff down to 15 feet (4.6 m) above sea level. The structure featured seven-foot-thick walls and multi-tiered casemated construction typical of Third System forts. It was sited to defend the maximum amount of harbor area. While there were more than 30 such forts on the East Coast, Fort Point was the only one on the West Coast. In 1854 Inspector General Joseph K. Mansfield declared "this point as the key to the whole Pacific Coast...and it should receive untiring exertions".
A crew of 200, many unemployed miners, labored for eight years on the fort. In 1861, with war looming, the army mounted the fort's first cannon. Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston, commander of the Department of the Pacific, prepared Bay Area defenses and ordered in the first troops to the fort. Kentucky-born Johnston then resigned his commission to join the Confederate Army; he was killed at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862."


Golden Gate and Fort Point after passing storm
Hand-tinted black and white Photography, Bennett Hall, 1980
"This photograph of the bridge was made between passing storms with an 8x10" view camera.  Waves from the heavy surf hit the sea wall causing these spectacular curtains of water, shooting up to 20' into the air. The motion effect is created using a slow shutter speed, about 1/4 second."

hand-tinted@Bennett Hall • 2014
Original hand-tinted print: available

SOURCE:  Collection of Bennett Hall / San Francisco Images;  digitally mastered by Business Image Group.  

Articles and stories in this post © Bennett Hall / San Francisco Images / Business Image Group •  PURCHASE: You can acquire copies of these images framed and unframed through our World Wide Archive Web Galleries

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tour San Francisco from the Air during the Roaring Twenties

Aerial of the San Francisco's developing Southern Waterfront

3rd and 16th and mariposa, viewing up 6th toward Market Street
Central Basin area, viewing toward the future site of USCF and Koret Center &
location of Bayfront park on the right, City Hall and Mount Tamalpais in distance
from original silver gelatin print, collection of Bennett Hall

Stay tuned - more coming soon...
Other Aerials on Flickr:

Reference on the Pier 70 area

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Emperor Norton has so decreed that a bridge shall be built...

The Bridge Shall be Built...

The Emperor has so decreed that there shall be a Bridge across our Bay (and, in the future, when said bridge is completed, it shall be named after me, so get over it)

WHEREAS, we issued our decree ordering the citizens of San Francisco and Oakland to appropriate funds for the survey of a suspension bridge from Oakland Point via Goat Island; also for a tunnel; and to ascertain which is the best project; and whereas the said citizens have hitherto neglected to notice our said decree; and whereas we are determined our authority shall be fully respected; now, therefore, we do hereby command the arrest by the army of both the Boards of City Fathers if they persist in neglecting our decrees. Given under our royal hand and seal at San Francisco, this 17th day of September, 1872
     –Emperor Norton (c.1818-1880)

Order a print of the Emperor




The following is decreed and ordered to be carried into execution as soon as convenient:

  1. That a suspension bridge be built from Oakland Point to Goat Island, and then to Telegraph Hill; provided such bridge can be built without injury to the navigable waters of the Bay of San Francisco.
  2. That the Central Pacific Railroad Company be granted franchises to lay down tracks and run cars from Telegraph Hill and along the city front to Mission Bay.
  3. That all deeds by the Washington Government since the establishment of our Empire are hereby decreed null and void unless our Imperial signature is first obtained thereto.
March 1872
Website with the full array of Proclamation by the Emperor:
here is the rest of the story:

link to the campaign:

From the Campaign website:

"But it’s not only Emperor Norton’s connection to the Bay Bridge itself that warrants naming the bridge for him.
The Emperor was a champion of racial and religious unity; an advocate for women’s suffrage; and a defender of the public interest, above all.  

He was known for his kindness. He was both passionate and whimsical. Not least, in asserting his own right to be heard, he stood for the outsider, the dreamer and for the idea that people should be accepted for who they are.

In all of these ways, the Emperor was himself a “bridge” who embodied and heralded the values of tolerance and eccentricity that came to be associated with San Francisco, Oakland and the Bay Area."

You can follow today's Emperor here on Facebook:


Background The Emperor was England born
 and journeyed to California during the Gold Rush in 1849.  Arriving via South Africa he had initial windfalls from real estate and various ventures until he became penniless via a poorly conceived plan to order the rice market.  Ultimately, his palace was less than palatial as he reigned from a rooming house at 624 Commercial Street was less than salubrious.  Nonetheless,was given a pass wherever he went, given the best seat in the best restaurants of the day with never a bill to be presented.  A general at the Presidio provided his uniform, which as it eventually deteriorated,  the Board of Supervisers pitched in a provided another.

At the time, the Emperor was not alone with respect to the eccentrics of the day.  One street character had dubbed himself George Washington II, adorned in Revolutionary War garb, there was the Money King who celebrated his position as a skin flint, and even a bizarre man who simply went by the title of the Great Unknown.  Were they smoking something back then?  Who know, but the Emperor seems the one who has staid the test of time and with us to this day.


Hand-tinted by Bennett Hall, 2015
Order a print of the Emperor
from San Francisco Images