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Five Fun Facts about Fort Point

  1. Fort Point was built between 1853 and 1861 by the U.S. Army Engineers as part of a defense system to protect San Francisco Bay from foreign attack.
  2. Fort Point is made of brick and granite and is considered one of the most perfect models of masonry in America.
  3. Fort Point is the only Third System fortification built west of the Mississippi River, which is a testament to the importance of San Francisco during the Gold Rush era.
  4. The fort’s guns never fired a shot in anger, but it served as an army barracks and was used for military trade schools during the 20th century.
  5. The fort was almost demolished to make way for the Golden Gate Bridge, but Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss saved it by designing a special arch that would allow the bridge to be built safely over it. Today, the fort stands as a National Historic Site and a popular spot for visitors to experience history and take in views of the bridge.

Fort Point has stood guard at the narrows of the Golden Gate for over 150 years.

Fort Point, oh Fort Point. This little slice of history tucked away at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge has seen it all. From its construction during the height of the California Gold Rush to serving as a detention barracks during World War I and even playing a small, but important role in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point has quite a storied past.

Let’s start with the beginning, shall we?

Fort Point was built between 1853 and 1861 by the U.S. Army Engineers as part of a defense system of forts planned for the protection of San Francisco Bay. Can you imagine the hustle and bustle of the Gold Rush and the need for protection from foreign invaders? Fort Point was meant to be the most formidable deterrent America could offer, and it was built in the Army’s traditional “Third System” style of military architecture. In fact, it’s the only fortification of this impressive design constructed west of the Mississippi River. Talk about being a big deal!

But, as fate would have it, Fort Point never saw battle. The Civil War ended before construction was completed and the fort’s pre-Civil War cannons became obsolete and were eventually removed. But, just because Fort Point never fired a shot in anger, doesn’t mean it was completely useless. During World War I, the Army remodeled Fort Point for use as a detention barracks, and during World War II, Fort Point soldiers dutifully guarded the entrance of the Golden Gate from submarine attack.

Fast forward to the 1930s and plans for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge also included plans for the demolition of Fort Point. But, Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss had a heart and recognized the architectural value of the Fort and created a special arch that allowed the construction of the bridge to occur safely over Fort Point. It’s like a game of Tetris, but with a historic fort instead of blocks.

After World War II, the movement to preserve Fort Point for its historic and architectural value began to grow. In 1959, a group of retired military officers and civilian engineers created the Fort Point Museum Association and lobbied for its creation as a National Historic Site. And in 1970, Fort Point officially became a National Historic Site.

Now, Fort Point is open for visitors Friday through Sunday from 10 am-5 pm (excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day) and is a great spot for a little history lesson and some killer views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Located at the South anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge at the end of Marine Drive on the Presidio of San Francisco. The exterior of the fort can be accessed 7 days a week.

10 Movie Scenes Filmed at Fort Point

According to the Wikipedia page for Fort Point National Historic Site, several movies have been filmed at the fort, including:

  1. The Presidio (1988) – This crime-thriller features Fort Point as the spot where a murder investigation takes place. The main characters scour the fort looking for clues to solve the case of a young woman found strangled.
  2. Vertigo (1958) – In this classic thriller, Fort Point serves as the romantic setting for the main characters’ first meeting. They admire the stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge and little did they know the twists and turns that await them.
  3. The Rock (1996) – This action-packed movie features Fort Point as the landing spot for a group of US Marines sent to take on a rogue general and his soldiers. The fort becomes the epicenter of an intense battle for survival.
  4. The Book of Eli (2010) – In this post-apocalyptic adventure, Fort Point plays a crucial role as the location of a showdown between the protagonist, Eli, and a group of bandits trying to steal a sacred book with the power to save humanity.
  5. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) – This emotional drama features Fort Point as the temporary home of a struggling single father and his young son. The fort serves as a sanctuary for the father as he fights to get back on his feet.
  6. The Dead Pool (1988) – In the fifth and final film of the Dirty Harry series, Fort Point serves as the location where a serial killer targeting celebrities is finally caught. Harry Callahan puts an end to the killing spree in a dramatic showdown.
  7. The House on Telegraph Hill (1951) – This dramatic thriller features Fort Point as the eerie setting for a young woman’s descent into madness as she uncovers the dark secrets of her new home on Telegraph Hill.
  8. The Parent Trap (1961) – In this classic family comedy, Fort Point serves as the location for a fun and memorable outing between estranged twin sisters as they bond and scheme to bring their parents back together.
  9. The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009) – This romantic drama features Fort Point as the place where a man, who has the ability to time travel, meets his wife for the first time. The fort serves as the backdrop for their beautiful, bittersweet love story.
  10. Inception (2010) – This mind-bending action film features Fort Point as the location of a thrilling chase scene as the characters navigate through the dream world. The fort serves as the perfect setting for the film’s surreal and action-packed climax.

It’s worth noting that some of these movies may have only used the fort as a filming location for a small portion of the film, and not the entire movie.


Fort Point information provided by: National Park Service 

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